Oslo business in London
Oslo Innovation Embassy opens in Hackney, London, providing a working, meeting, and networking space for Norwegian startups abroad
Early in December the Oslo Innovation Embassy was opened in Hackney, London. The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, was there for the opening ceremony, which took place almost at the same time as the lightening of the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square—a tradition going back to 1947, when the people of Oslo began sending a tree as a gift in recognition of London’s support during World War II. Hackney, London, is well positioned as a stepping-stone for Norwegian developers. The Oslo Innovation Embassy provides a place for Norwegian companies to build high-end international networks. In Hackney, an impressive 1,500 companies are started every year.
Hackney came to Norway’s attention due to Norwegian entrepreneur Johan Brand, CEO of edu-tech pioneer Kahoot. Based in Hackney, where he has worked from the area’s co-working space The Trampery for several years, he saw the potential for a Nordic network and stronger presence among London’s technology companies.
Oslo’s Vice Mayor for Culture and Business Halstein Bjercke’s visit to Hackney on a trip with the ICT sector, shortly after Brand’s suggestion, marked the beginning of the creative alliance. The new embassy has desks for Norwegian entrepreneurs ready to take a step into the international business arena. Oslo Business Region and ICT-Norway are looking for startups to establish in the embassy, giving them an excellent launch pad—a place that is both a workplace and a network—and a place to meet that will help shorten the gap to international markets.
At the opening, acting Vice Mayor for Culture and Business Anne Siri Koksrud Bekkelund said that Hackney is home to one of the most vibrant startup environments in Europe. It has transformed itself from a rundown industrial arena into a creative one focusing on technology and innovation. “We know that Hackney will be a springboard for Norwegian companies and are delighted to open for this opportunity,” she said.
Oslo Business Region is constantly working to raise the number of startups with international potential. They develop arenas, networks, and tools to support startups to successfully launch and grow their business ideas. The ambition is to be one of the most innovative cities in Europe. This means a creative capital with talent, technology, and tolerance as key components.
Fredrik Winther, Managing Director at Oslo Business Region, said at the opening that the aim is for more businesses from the city to succeed in going international and growing. “Anyone can go to London, but you can be in a space with access to the best network of knowledge and experience, potential investors and partners,” he said. Successful companies from Oslo help highlight the attractiveness of Norway as well as being good ambassadors internationally. If the Hackney collaboration works well, the plan is to expand the Oslo Innovation Embassy idea to other cities, including Austin, Texas!
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 6, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.