Norwegian Investment Forum nurtures startups

October event prepares Norwegian companies to enter the challenging US market

 Photo: Mike / Flickr Taking a business into a new market is hard; Norwegian Investment Forum aims to help.

Photo: Mike / Flickr
Taking a business into a new market is hard; Norwegian Investment Forum aims to help.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

The U.S. economy is again growing, and with it grow new opportunities for Norwegian companies to capture clients, alliances, and industrial or commercial partners. Studies show that Norwegian companies entering the U.S. have at best a one out of 50 success rate, and less than one in 100 deliver profitable returns within three years. It is therefore important to identify a segment of the market where the company can attain a unique competitive position. From there on, make a plan including targeting buyers, sales strategies, alliance opportunities, pricing, and marketing communication.

For the many entrepreneurs who dream about making it to America, Venture Lab recently started a partnership with Silicon Valley-based Next Step to ensure better preparations for companies who want to take the next step to the U.S. market. Venture Lab was founded in 2000and has helped over 400 companies with market research, business planning and development, and of course the funding process.

One of their activities is the Norwegian Investment Forum, taking place this October. This year the 30 most promising startups will pitch their business cases for investors. They are from different segments, including ICT, Bio, Health, Energy, Oil and Gas, and Clean Tech. Bill Reichard from Garage Technology Venture in Silicon Valley points out that the Forum is a great place to connect with entrepreneurs and investors from around the Nordic region.

This year will offer keynote speeches on future trends: who will fund the startups of tomorrow, and an outlook on the risk capital market. Among the speakers are serial entrepreneur Jonas Kjellberg from Skype. Since the sale of Skype he has worked extensively advising other startups as well as starting his own business. The American-Israeli journalist and author Saul Singer will also be there. He is co-writer of Start-up Nation, the story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, a bestseller that investigates Israel’s innovative prowess. From San Francisco comes Allan Young, the founder of one of the city’s largest incubators, Runway. He is trying to kill the idea of the garage startup, which is a cherished myth in Silicon Valley, idealizing the likes of Jobs and Wozniak and Hewlett and Packard. Those were different days. Young is also a founder of Call Socket, a next-generation call center, and has also run a venture fund that achieved three large IPOs.

The host is Anne Worsøe from Innovation Norway, who is just back from the Valley. She is the founder of Innovation House in Palo Alto and founder of the TINC program for Norwegian tech startups. According to a Nordic venture capitalist, there is a strong emergence of interesting startups coming out of Norway. The Forum is bringing together and presenting a select group. The event is generating some impressive buzz. According to another venture capitalist this is the premium gathering in Norway, a quality group of leading international and local investors.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 10, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.