Cracking the code of innovation

Worldwide innovators gather at Trondheim’s Technoport Conference to share inspiration

Photo: Technoport / Wil Lee-Wright PhotographyVoico’s noise-cancelling technology won the pitch contest at the conference.

Photo: Technoport / Wil Lee-Wright Photography
Voico’s noise-cancelling technology won the pitch contest at the conference.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Technoport in Trondheim is where innovators meet to share ideas and create new opportunities. This year the focus was on how to crack the code to innovation. Over 700 attended the main seminar.

The locally based noise-cancellation startup Voico won the Pitch Competition and the prize of 250,000 NOK. Have you ever gotten irritated by others talking too loud on the phone in an open office? Because of noise in the work environment, 25 percent of employees in open offices have experienced stress symptoms. Voico’s aim is to produce a silencing microphone that mutes the human voice, when on the phone in a noisy office environment for example. Their greatest challenge has been to develop a proof of concept. Now that they have almost finished it, the goal is to get it patented and to get more developers on board so that they can make it to the market faster. Founder and entrepreneur Charlotte Sørensen says that they are extremely excited and look forward to proceeding with the creation of the prototype.

In a world where technology companies that did not even exist 25 years ago generate more than many small nations, the seminar started with some perspectives from Hege Skryseth, the executive vice president at Kongsberg, one of Norway’s leading industrial companies. She outlined the digital revolution and the transformation from physical products to digital services.

Kickstarter co-founder Charles Adler showcased how his digital service has improved people’s ability to create new physical products, from the record-breaking Pebble smartwatch to a group of high school kids building a flight simulator from a Piper Cub fuselage.

Peter Heisberg spoke about the power behind the maker movement, so powerful in fact that Barack Obama recently hosted a Maker Faire in the White House. This was particularly relevant to Trondheim since they have a very successful, high-profile Maker Faire.

How do we turn big government’s funding of innovation into jobs? The speakers on this topic came from different countries and perspectives. Alexandra Gjørv from SINTEF, Scandinavia’s largest independent research organization, said that we collaborate well with big companies from major industries, but a challenge today is to work better with smaller companies who can’t afford this.

Dirk Alborn, the CEO of Hyperloop, a transportation-tube that travels at the speed of sound, gave fascinating insights. The first travel route will be between Los Angeles and San Francisco and will take only 30 minutes. They are running their business in a very unconventional way. They hire people worldwide with stock options as payment. In addition, they have over 20,000 passionate people globally who share their ideas and opinions. Hyperloop has found a way to work open source and mix it with a commercial venture, which is a very tricky thing. We have a lot to learn from the U.S.!

This article originally appeared in the April 29, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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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.