Want to innovate like a Norwegian?
Experience Norway’s unique business climate at Oslo Innovation Week this September
Oslo is Europe’s fastest-growing capital and the key to a more robust, diversified, and sustainable future economy for Norway. We don’t know yet what kind of industries will define Norway’s future—but we know that innovation and entrepreneurship are important, according to Oslo Business Region, an organization working to increase the number of startups with international potential. One of its activities is to invite the world to the annual Oslo Innovation Week, this year held from Sept. 23 to 27.
Oslo Innovation Week is a dugnad—a collaboration. Last year, 147 companies and organizations held 56 events. If you want to be part of the family and organize an event, reach out to the organizers, and they will be in touch.
During the opening seminar in 2018, startup Otovo received the Oslo Innovation Award. Otovo was founded in January 2016 by Andreas Thorsheim, Simen Fure Jørgensen, Lars Syse Christiansen, and Andreas Bentzen. During its first year, Otovo became the Norwegian market leader in solar cells used in private homes. The company has since expanded to Sweden. The startup is a software-centric company using terrain, weather, and building data with a solar panel planning algorithm to sell rooftop solar installations. Otovo simply enables homeowners to get tailor-made, instant quotes for solar panels on their roofs, while hosting a marketplace with hundreds of installers, who algorithmically bid for the projects generated.
The employees are owners, but professional investors have also contributed to the startup, including Agder Energi Ventureselskap, OBOS, Selvaag Bolig, and Opsahl Eiendom. The professional investors brought in NOK 60 million in the summer 2017. In October 2018, Otovo secured another NOK 100 million to accelerate its European expansion.
CEO and founder Thorsheim was very happy, according to a press release, to have secured funding from investors with a long-term perspective. “Now it is time to put what we have learned in the tough markets of Norway and Sweden to use in countries farther south, where the sun is more plentiful and electricity prices are typically higher,” says Thorsheim.
In 2013, The Economist stated that the Nordic region was becoming a hothouse for entrepreneurship, with 15,000 new companies started every year in Oslo. Collaboration is the Nordic way of competing, and we see various co-working and innovation hubs popping up all over. Oslo also collaborates with Austin, Texas, and Hackney, London, through Creative Cities Alliances.
Norwegians are early adopters of new technology, and Oslo in particular makes a great test market for leading international companies. The population of the city is young (the age group from 25 to 35 is projected to increase by 40% in the next 10 years), talented, and highly educated. According to Forbes, Oslo is not going unnoticed by startups as a good place to set up a business.
If you have a solution to solve a global challenge, Oslo might offer something for you. Check out this year’s Oslo Innovation Week at www.oslobusinessregion.no/event/oslo-innovation-week-2019.
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 master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the May 17, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.