Startups on display
Oslo Innovation Week awards movers and shakers
During the Oslo Innovation Week last October, the 100 pitches competition was one of more than 50 events that took place. One hundred startups pitched their products to an international jury composed of Bård Stranheim (Innovation Norway), Sean Percival (500 startups), Tellef Thorleifsson (Northzone), Ekaterina Gianelli (Investue), Kristin Riise (DNB), and Jeanne Sullivan (Sullivan Adventures, StarVest).
Despite a remarkable collection of Nordic startups, the surprising winner was from London. The lucky winner, Skin Analytics, received a 300,000 NOK prize and six months of free desk space at The Trampery in London from the Oslo Innovation Embassy. The company’s device attaches to a smart phone and when people upload photos of moles that concern them, uses the same criteria physicians would use to analyze the moles for possible melanoma without having to go to the doctor.
The week not only showcased Norwegian talents but also brought international movers and shakers in the startup business to town. Oslo Innovation Week is the largest innovation fair in Europe and in 2015 it gathered 9,000 participants. According to an American founder and investor, the momentum in the startup ecosystem is growing exponentially in the Nordics, and Norwegians have to learn how to sell their ideas to international investors. Another American working in Oslo said that the co-founder system here has more balance and stability in the development of startup companies, and gender pay equality is higher. He also saw a huger potential and higher possibilities for the local companies in the multimedia business, as unlike in America, the Nordic are able to create a higher digital penetration in the media and video production.
The official opening was held at the National Opera and Ballet, with the participation of the Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon, who was welcomed with a high five by the host, Minister of Finance Siv Jensen, and Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland. During the ceremony, Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway, emphasized the need to shift focus away from the Norwegian oil business and develop the technological and innovation sectors.
To close the ceremony, Gelato Group won the Oslo Innovation Award for “the innovative way it has restructured and increased productivity in the distribution of print jobs globally.” The group is headquartered at Fornebu just outside Oslo. They want to enable anyone to access creativity, their own and others’, in the printed format, and to connect printers from all countries to a print cloud open to everyone. Collaborative consumption can be the positive consequence of a “sharing economy.” They want to share print machines so that excess capacity can be intelligently allocated. The company has local production and distribution in 13 countries and had 73 percent growth in revenue for the first six months this year. Gelato has been built on their cash flow and has an international knowledgeable board of directors that has been a key component in order to build the company.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 8, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.