Borderless entrepreneurship

American students learn about Norway’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through the embassy’s Virtual Ambassador Program

Students in a classroom.

Photo: Mona Anita K. Olsen
Students in Professor Olsen’s Cornell University AEM 4940 class interact via Skype with H.E. Kåre R. Aas.

Mona Anita K. Olsen, PhD
Cornell University

Entrepreneurship is global; it is not limited by borders or time zones but instead fueled by connecting multiple perspectives to create value and seize opportunity. We each embody talents necessary to innovate, create, and contribute to the global entrepreneurial landscape. Being engaged in business—and in life—means knowing the talents you bring to the table. It also means knowing when you would benefit most from partnering with others across the globe. At Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where I teach courses that connect the academic and the practical in the discipline of entrepreneurship, we have been fortunate to host several events to promote global entrepreneurship with students from a variety of majors and points in their educational journeys.

This past summer, I taught the course AEM 4940: Secrets of Business Success to 65 high school students from around the globe in a three-week session. This intensive, engaging program was taught through Cornell’s acclaimed Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, part of Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business. The program gave students insight into global entrepreneurship, leadership, and strategy. It also provided students with the exposure to tools and effective methods for interaction and communication with global leaders in professional and interesting ways.

For example, as part of this course, students were able to participate in the Virtual Ambassador Program spearheaded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Through this program, students at universities throughout the country have the opportunity to interact with Norway’s Ambassador to the U.S., H.E. Kåre R. Aas, on a variety of discussion topics.

Students in AEM 4940 prepared for the live Skype session with Aas by reviewing the Norway Creates Jobs in the U.S. Embassy Report (Further reading); doing an interactive exercise to build out their technology and online communication skills using Zoom web-conferencing software; analyzing the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report on Norway; and completing the teaching case Creating Revenue Stream for Voss, published by Ivey.

During the live 60-minute session, Aas presented the Embassy Report and an overview of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Norway. Students were given the opportunity to engage with Aas directly and ask questions about the report and his presentation. The interactive nature of the session helped support the educational efforts to build self-confidence in communication skills and expose students to the many facets of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that can differ greatly around the globe. A highlight of the summer session for students, this virtual conversation further supported and instilled the idea of mobility, efficiency, and global entrepreneurship.

Previously, Cornell hosted the Virtual Ambassador Program in conjunction with its commitment to the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) Norway, a core initiative of the Institute of International Education’s Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education, which aimed to increase the number of international partnerships between higher education institutions in the U.S. and Norway. Specifically, the Virtual Ambassador Program was hosted by the course HADM 4133/6133: Global Conversations with Entrepreneurs, a hybrid course for undergraduate and graduate students interested in exploring the operations of a business in a foreign country and taught through the Hotel School, part of Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business. Another Virtual Ambassador Program was held at Cornell to support the celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015, where the discussion focused on Girls’ Education in Norway.

This year marks Global Entrepreneurship Week’s 10-year anniversary. It is taking place November 13-19, and over 150 countries are hosting a variety of competitions and events relating to entrepreneurial activity. The celebration spreads entrepreneurial spirit and zeal as it pulls together 10 million people through more than 30,000 events. This network of events is supported by over 15,000 organizations and key partners worldwide. The ultimate goal is to increase awareness and expand entrepreneurial networks.

There were also a plethora of events throughout the year that led up to the week of celebration. For example, in September, Hanne Viken from the University College of Southeast Norway and the team from Innovation Barn 58N6E organized an entrepreneurial dream-in-progress workshop called “Think Outside the Barrel” in Bø, Norway. In October, Dr. Trude Furunes organized the European Hospitality Forum at the University of Stavanger with sponsorship from the Norwegian School of Hotel Management, NHO Reise­liv, and the Norwegian Centers of Expertise (NCE) Tourism Fjord Norway. The European Hospitality Forum focused on “The Big Idea: Workshop on Entrepreneurship.” To learn more about Global Entrepreneurship Week or to get involved, visit

Further reading
Norway Creates Jobs in the U.S. Embassy Report:

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report on Norway:

Creating Revenue Stream for Voss available at

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 17, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Mona Anita K. Olsen

Mona Anita K. Olsen

Mona Anita K. Olsen, Ph.D. is a British-American entrepreneurial academic based in Norway. She holds an academic appointment as an associate professor at the University of Southeastern Norway. As a Ph.D. student, Olsen was a U.S. Fulbright Grantee to Norway in 2012-2013; she continues to follow her dream in progress to make a difference in entrepreneurial education in Norway as a fourth-generation owner of Innovation Barn in Borhaug alongside her daughter and husky named Buddy Grunder. Learn more at