Posts Tagged ‘Trondheim’

Trondheim Tech
60David Nikel

David NikelAugust 26, 2014

Introducing TrondheimTech

For the last few months, TrondheimTech has been slowly and steadily building a presence on social media. It’s been an attempt to share the news and goings on from within Trondheim’s technology community to a wider audience, and up until now has been pretty under-the-radar stuff, equivalent to the grass-roots movement behind the #cphftw, #sthlmtech and #siliconfjord hashtags around Scandinavia.

Today, the TrondheimTech team hit the “GO” button on a shiny new website. Take a look!

The website has a simple aim: to collect, curate and share the most interesting news from Trondheim, and help the city to reclaim the title of Norway’s technology capital. As most of the news coming out of the technology hotspots of NTNU, SINTEF and associated environments is in Norwegian, the language of TrondheimTech is predominantly Norwegian, but the site will also link to articles in English.

And linking is the key.

TrondheimTech will curate news by sending people to the source, not just copying existing content. That source could be a local newspaper article, national or international coverage, a press release, or a blog/comment piece. In time, editor Thor Richard Isaksen plans to host original content, opinion pieces and columnists, but stop short of developing the concept into a media company.

Isaksen attempts to explains the concept: “We feel that there is too big a gap between the content in mainstream Norwegian media and our breakfast table conversations. Even at lunch, it is still quite large. Sometimes it evens out around dinner time because there usually are children present, but explodes at supper, which is arguably the most important meal of the day.”

Also on board are Gøril Forbord from Technoport, Emili Økstad from Compbuoy, and Eli Grong Aursand from NTNU’s Technology Transfer Office.

Everyone at Technoport is excited at the launch and we hope you are too.

Trondheim FTW!

Make Trondheim
60David Nikel

David NikelAugust 4, 2014

Introducing Trondheim’s Maker Movement

There’s a buzz going around Trondheim at the moment.

And it’s not the excessive number of insects drawn by the stupidly hot July. It’s Trondheim’s growing reputation in the maker world.

Before I dive into detail about what’s exactly happening in Trondheim, I want to talk a little about the maker movement in general, in case some of you are unfamiliar with it.

I sat down with Frode Halvorsen, CEO at Trondheim Makers, and began with one simple question: What is the maker movement?

“I am not sure where to start. I got fascinated by the maker movement a few years ago, there’s been a lot of makers in Norway and all over the world for a long time but without a “tag”, so finally we have a name for what we are doing. A few days ago I read an article at MAKE Magazine which describes the difference between a hackerspace, a makerspace, and a tech-shop.”

“In 1995 there was the first Chaos computer camp in Germany, a hacker camp, they started the first hacker space. Around ten years ago a group of people from America visited the camp, became influenced by the movement and took it back to the US. They started hacker spaces in the US. Also around 2005, Dale Dougherty was planning to start a magazine, he called it initially Hack, but his daughter suggested he call it Make, because everyone likes to make stuff and it sounds a lot more positive, so he called it Make. From there the hacker and maker movement grew, so really maker is a more positive way of describing a hacker.”

“Typically it’s for tech-heads, but I like the way the maker movement embraces textiles, food and beverage, for example. As long as you make something by yourself, you are a maker. You don’t have to have a PhD in electronics or micro controllers as long as you are making stuff and building stuff, you are a maker.”

Maker movement Norway

To get a different perspective, I hit up Wikipedia:

“The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping. There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively.” – Wikipedia

So to me, the maker movement is nothing new.

We all had an elderly relative or eccentric uncle who used to spend their weekends tinkering in the shed or garage, right? Maker!

The maker movement in Trondheim

In addition to the engineers, designers and makers of NTNU, Trondheim also hosts Hackheim, and a soon-to-be workshop for makers at DIGS.

Returning to Frode Halvorsen, I asked him to describe how the movement came to Trondheim, and what they have planned.

Alf Egil Bogen, co founder of AVR, saw a need for a better culture of innovation and new opportunities in the city, so Trondheim Makers was established. It’s a membership organisation working for a better community and environment to allow a maker movement to flourish in Trondheim. Last year we held a test maker-faire at Pstereo festival. This year, we are going for a real big one.”

“Over 100 maker faires of varying sizes have been held around the world. This year’s event in Trondheim will be a featured event alongside the likes of Tokyo, Paris and Shenzhen. We had to do a lot of convincing to the heads in San Francisco but we created a document about Trondheim’s tech culture, the number of tech-focused students, and the density of research-based technology here in Trondheim, which helped a great deal. We will welcome people over from Make magazine and TIME has already mentioned us, so this will really do something for the city.”

Maker Faire Trondheim

Trondheim Maker Faire takes place at Torvet over the weekend of 29 & 30 August. Expect up to 75 makers and businesses showcasing their projects, alongside workshops, talks and seminars. Get involved in such activities as learning to solder, roasting coffee, sewing iPhone cases, and the nerdy derby, a car race for small wooden cars. There’ll also be robot kits available and a robot race.

Photo credit: Intel Free Press

DIGS street-front entrance
60David Nikel

David NikelJuly 15, 2014

Developing Trondheim’s entrepreneurial scene

Recently Technoport held a small workshop to discuss what is missing from Trondheim’s entrepreneurial scene and what Technoport can do to help fill those gaps. Representatives from Leiv Eiriksson Nyskaping, the NTNU Technology Transfer Office, Entreprenørskolen, DIGS and other interested parties gathered for a session on the high seas (!)

I sat down with Technoport CEO Gøril Forbord and Head of Events Hermann Ørn Vidarsson to find out what they wanted to know, and whether they found out.

Hermann – “as every lean startup thinks, you need to test your hypothesis with the customer. so we are trying to think like that. We wanted to talk to those who represent some of our target groups, in particular startups. The question we posed was simple really – How can our operation, events and activities sustain and support their needs? More specifically, how can we increase commercialisation of knowledge and technology in the region, how can we create a better entrepreneurial ecosystem, and what can Technoport do to support this?”

If you missed the event then don’t worry. It’s likely you’ll have another chance to have your say, as repeating this event on a regular basis was one of the key takeaways, with many participants saying it was their first opportunity to meet some of the other players in Trondheim’s entrepreneurial community.

Hermann – “It’s absolutely the start of something, not just a one-off workshop. We discussed the idea of hosting a quarterly sector meeting to bring all the parties together more often to enhance visibility.”

Goril – “We want to improve and always be relevant for our target groups now and in the future. Their needs could change so we need to continue this discussion to keep ourselves up to date.”

The Technoport workshop boat

On the boat (yes, the venue was a boat. This is Norway, after all!), the participants were split into three groups to discuss the questions in-depth. Here’s what happened!

Lowering the entry barriers to entrepreneurship in Norway

One of the biggest talking points was about bridging the gap from being employed in a big company to entrepreneurship, a problem very specific to Norway where the benefits of employment are so high. But that lead on to some interesting takeaways for Technoport, including a whole new potential target group, the unemployed.

Gøril – “It’s about not only lowering the barriers for the currently employed, but lowering the barriers for anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur. We mean psychological barriers as well as money. We can’t have too many people working on lowering these barriers.”

Hermann – “We haven’t looked at the unemployed as a target group previously, but there is a big need there. In Norway entrepreneurship seems to be a last resort. You need to have lost your job and been applying for jobs for a while before the limited support from Nav becomes available to you.”

Let’s get customers, not investors

One surprise was the focus on getting pilot customers rather than investors. A lot of events already facilitate the meeting of entrepreneurs with investors, but relatively little information is out there about getting your first sales. This touches on the excellent talk from Jonas Kjellberg, former VP of Global Sales at Skype, which is well worth a watch:

Specific to Trondheim

Creating meeting places, social get-togethers and the importance of making the entrepreneurship environment visible were the main takeaways specific to Trondheim.

Hermann – “All three groups were in unison that the Technoport conference should remain an international event, but we should host smaller events with a local focus throughout the year.”

Gøril – “One of the most surprising responses was that people wanted to hear more failures than success stories, so maybe we need to have a new celebration of failures here in Trondheim. It’s harder to find these stories, but maybe that’s one of the jobs it’s important for us to do.”

Hermann – We continued our theme of open innovation and in my group we talked a lot about the need for openness and the sharing culture to succeed with innovation. We talked about creating a bank of ideas that people have but don’t have the resources to implement themselves. Of course if you publish an idea there, you waive the rights to the idea. This is something we’d like to look at developing.”

What’s next?

In total, Technoport recorded 14 clear action points from the workshop. Over the summer, all these points will be looked at and some developed further. Join our newsletter for updates and to be notified when future workshops and events will take place.

Assistep Live Crowdfunding
60David Nikel

David NikelJuly 8, 2014

Catching up with Equity Crowdfunders AssiStep

It’s been some weeks now since AssiStep stole the show at our Live Crowdfunding Experiment. I caught up with CMO and co-founder Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø to find out his thoughts about the whole crowdfunding process now the dust has settled.

It’s been a hectic time for AssiStep since Technoport 2014. I sit in the same co-working space as them (DIGS here in Trondheim) and have seen first-hand how much effort they are putting into product development.

“We have worked a lot with product development since Technoport. We are trying to put things into production, there are still some small issues that come up once in a while that we need to solve and it takes time solving problems, ordering new parts. Our technology is now able to turn corners. This worked in theory before the crowdfunding event, but now we’ve been able to check it actually works in practice, which is a big milestone for us as it makes us unique in the market.”

It may surprise some of you new to equity crowdfunding that AssiStep hasn’t yet received a single kroner of the investment pledged at the Live Crowdfunding Experiement. In fact, the funding round hasn’t even closed yet.

The funding round was over-subscribed, and the Assistep team is busy working out which investors to take on board.

“Since the Technoport event we’ve had an offer from a seed fund who wanted to join in the funding round. This has been a bit more work and things are taking a bit more time than we expected, so we haven’t been able to close the round yet.”

“It is a case of probably accepting the larger investments, because this makes it easier to have good communication with all our investors, but it’s also the result of a thought process. Do we want friends and family to invest? After some thought we decided it’s probably wise not to have friends and family on board, so we don’t feel like we are always working when we spend time with them.”

“FundedByMe enables the communication really, the process beyond that is more governed by us and how we want to act. We’ve had some hints and tips from FundedByMe on what to do next and how to run the process with our potential investors, which has been really helpful.”

AssiStep hopes to close the funding round very soon, take the investment and put their product into production. With some deals already made in Norway and interest from potential partners in Sweden and Denmark, the future looks bright for AssiStep, thanks to equity crowdfunding!

“It would have been more difficult without the crowdfunding process. We’re sure we would have used more time finding the investors if it wasn’t for the Live Crowdfunding Experiment, and not even sure we’d have found the investment by now. It was a great opportunity for us and saved so much time by not having to sit through all the potential meetings with investors, one at a time.”

Dirtybit DinoDash
60David Nikel

David NikelJune 5, 2014

Trondheim’s Dirtybit Release Dino Dash

Their recent success at the Nordic Startup Awards crowned an exceptional few years for the three NTNU students behind Dirtybit. Today, things could get even better for them.

The mobile app developers struck gold when their multiplayer game Fun Run shot to the top of Apple’s download charts. To date, Fun Run has been downloaded over 40 million times. The follow-up to Fun Run has been eagerly-awaited by its fans, but also by those of us who monitor the goings-on at startups around Norway.

Today that moment has arrived as Dirtybit, whose staff has swelled to 8, launch Dino Dash:

“Race your Dinos and compete against 5 of your best friends! Who will win? Dino Dash is a multiplayer racing game where you compete in various game modes against other players from all over the world.”

“The Fun Run creators are back with a new, addictive multiplayer racing game! Dino Dash has beautiful cartoony graphics and introduces elimination and boss fight game modes. The goal is first and foremost to have tremendous fun with friends, and secondly to collect Dinos, gain new skills and powerups in order to be the best among your friends. By giving players the option to create custom leaderboards, they can host engaging tournaments and share the fun.”

“Are you up to the challenge of training your Dinos to become the best? Join the fun and race others in three different types of races: Climb the leaderboard by beating the others to the finish line; Try the Egg Hunt where you can win Dinotastic prizes and the losers are eaten alive; Beat the Boss to open up new and adventurous zones.”

How will Dino Dash fare?

Game development is a notoriously tough industry, and the explosion of mobile devices has made things even tougher. Even the biggest success story of them all – Rovio’s Angry Birds – was followed by a ton of titles that didn’t make it. So much so, that Rovio is no longer a games company:

“After reporting flat profits last year, Rovio has a busy year ahead of them with more game releases, and most notably more noise being made on the entertainment side. Rovio is has planned a 2016 movie release and is growing up its own distribution channel for animated content, called ToonsTV, which is just starting its second season, among more theme park openings” – Arctic Startup

The folk at Dirtybit have given themselves every chance though, taking and further developing the popular multiplayer format from Fun Run.

“We’ve taken what we’ve learned from Fun Run and the feedback from our users into the core of Dino Dash. With Dino Dash we aim to show that Fun Run wasn’t just a one-­hit ­wonder, and that we’re able to innovate with our games. Large gaming companies are trying to create the same multiplayer system, so we’re really excited to set the standard and continue to be the market leader in this space”, says Nicolaj Petersen, co-founder and COO of Dirtybit.

Watch this space!

Trondheim Tech Capital
60David Nikel

David NikelMay 24, 2014

Four Startup Awards for Trondheim

Trondheim’s position as technology capital of Norway was enhanced at the Nordic Startup Awards in Oslo last week, with four awards heading back up the E6. Not bad for a city with a population of just 180,000!

The general public voted on a shortlist of nominees from across the Nordic region, and the following Trondheim-based people and companies picked up national awards:

DirtyBit – Best Startup Norway & One to Watch Nordics

Dino Dash

The creators of multiplayer game FunRun, DirtyBit recently launched their latest release: DinoDash. The mobile game maker was launched by Erlend Borslid Haugsdal and Nicolaj Broby Petersen when they were at NTNU. Less than two years later, DirtyBit employ 8 people and are one of the most promising app developers in the country. In addition to picking up Best Startup in the Norwegian awards, the jury handed DirtyBit the “One to Watch” accolade.

NTNU School of Entrepreneurship – Best Service Provider Norway

NTNU Entreprenørskolen

NTNU’s Entreprenørskolen takes in some of Norway’s most promising talents and turns them into fully-fledged entrepreneurs in just two years. Their alumni list is impressive and the current crop includes fellow nominees DirtyBit and Feat.fm.

David Nikel – Best Startup Journalist Norway
Yep, that’s me! A big thank you to Technoport for letting me loose on its Playground this past year, and to all the fantastic startups I’ve met along the way.

A jury selected from the national winners of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, and although none of the Trondheim contingent won an overall prize (aside from DirtyBit’s One to Watch award), it was still a night to celebrate for Trondheim.

We must also mention the overall winner for best Service Provider was our Live Crowdfunding Experiment partners FundedByMe, and the winner of Best Startup Journalist was Greg Anderson from Arctic Startup, who joined us in Trondheim for Technoport 2014 last month.

Congratulations everyone!

The overall winners were:

  • Startup of the Year: Plain Vanilla (Iceland) – a software development company that delivers beautiful applications on mobile platforms, such as QuizUp
  • Best Newcomer: Jumpstarter (Sweden), a hosting platform to enable people to set up fully hosted web projects in less than a second
  • Best Service Provider: FundedByMe (Sweden), a crowd investment platform, connecting investors with entrepreneurs
  • Founder of the Year: Carl Waldekranz (Sweden), CEO and co-founder of DIY e-commerce website Tictail
  • Developer Hero: Jonas Bruun Nielsen (Denmark), creator of Screenmailer, the fastest way to record and share high quality screen recordings
  • Best Investor: Lifeline Ventures (Finland), venture capital firm that typically works with start-ups before they have launched their first product, taking it from inception to successful Series A investment and beyond
  • Best Startup Journalist: Greg Anderson (Finland), writes about startup companies as Editor at ArcticStartup
DIGS logo
60David Nikel

David NikelNovember 29, 2013

DIGS brings co-working to Trondheim

Innovation and entrepreneurship in Trondheim is dominated by academic influence. NTNU’s School of Entrepreneurship churns out eager graduates year after year, while their Technology Transfer Office looks to commercialise the institution’s extensive research.

Of course, this is no bad thing.

Academic strength has positioned Trondheim as Norway’s knowledge capital. But what is there for people outside the academic bubble?

The answer – until quite recently – was not very much. The Leiv Eiriksson Nyskaping (LEN) R&D incubator provides valuable assistance to entrepreneurs but in a traditional working environment. Little other infrastructure existed, driving many of those talented NTNU graduates down to Oslo, or even abroad, to grow their business.

The global co-working phenomenon

Co-working provides a professional yet relaxed work environment for people looking for a creative, affordable way to work, collaborate, and innovate. It’s nothing new, variations exist all over the world with a range of aims, from supporting hip tech startups in NYC to driving social change across Africa.

Oslo’s MESH is the flag-bearer for Norwegian co-working, but up until now, Trondheim lacked anywhere similar.

Introducing DIGS, a versatile and highly-visible space on Olav Tryggvasons gate. It’s only been open for a few months and is a long way from completion, but has already attracted high-calibre visitors such as Liv Signe Navarsete, the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development at the time.

DIGS street-front entrance

Open-plan office space

When the renovations are complete, DIGS will offer 1,000m² of offices, open-plan desks, event spaces, and even a street-facing cafe. Co-founder Arnstein Johannes Syltern told me about the concept and what “success” would mean:

“We spent a year travelling as far as San Francisco looking for inspiring co-working concepts. But one thing was important – we couldn’t just lift a concept from Berlin or London and expect it to work in Trondheim. With DIGS we’ve tried to design a concept that will work for a smaller town and our unique environment.”

“It’s important for us to widen access to Trondheim’s innovation scene and give thinkers and creators an independent place to meet and mix. I’d love the city of Trondheim to be known for knowledge and innovation more generally, not just because of NTNU.”

Success through collaboration

While remaining independent, close co-operation with academia will of course be essential to DIGS’ success. The early signs are positive. In fact as I write this, DIGS tenants AssiStep just announced receipt of an NTNU Discovery grant of NOK 900,000. The news was greeted with congratulations and back-slapping from every single member, highlighting the collective spirit that’s quickly developed here.

Collaborative environment at DIGS

Marine technology startup Searis was one of the first tenants at DIGS. Co-founder Bernt-Johan Bergshaven is in no doubt of the benefits to his company, and the city in general:

“DIGS is a very healthy environment for us as we can instantly speak to other members with totally different skillsets. Each week someone new stops by who asks us challenging questions from a private-sector perspective.”

“After I finished my Cybernetics degree, 70% of my class left Trondheim, and many others stayed on to do research. People are already seeing DIGS as a reason to stay and are starting to think about possible ventures they can start.”

As a tenant myself I am somewhat biased, but I’m in no doubt that DIGS will provide a place for Norway’s expert engineers to create value for Trondheim long after their studies are over. Work is ongoing but you are welcome to pop in for a tour. Get in touch via digs.no.