WHY NORWAY? WHY NOW!
Norway — A country of never ending sunsets, the birthplace of skiing, and recently named the happiest place on earth, but one to take them all — on track to be the fasted growing startup ecosystem in the Nordics.
Until 5–10 years ago, Norway rarely featured as a player in the European, or even Nordic startup ecosystem. Fast forward to today, with investments totalling $196.3 million in 2016 representing a +160% increase from 2015, in a few short years, the once dormant ecosystem is proving to have been somewhat of a sleeping giant (or troll) overtaking most of its Scandinavian neighbours as the fastest growing Nordic ecosystem in 2016, second only to their age old winter sports rival and Nordic tech idol Sweden.
Now the interesting thing is that the catalyst in this recent growth is no coincidence. It has been driven by an entrepreneurial revolution, recognised and supported by a collaborative effort from the government; through Innovation Norway, have proven invaluable in supporting early stage startups in financial, educational and technical support. Corporates; such as DNB launching NXT accelerator to find the next Fintech success, Telenor are doing the same within the mobile marketing arena and soon more corporates will follow their lead. Even the Royal House is heavily engaged with HRH Crown Prince Haakon becoming an active spokesperson for the Norwegian ecosystem, opening Startup Extreme, and Slush conferences last year.
Oslo based co-working spaces like MESH, StartupLab, 657, Gründergarasjen, Y3o, and Bitraf have paved the way for a new breed of ecosystem supporters such as Oslo House of Innovation, Katapult Accelerator and FinTech Factory. And this is by no means Oslo centric, with innovation hubs emerging country-wide such as; Innovation Dock in Stavanger, Impact Hub in Bergen, Flow in Trømso, and Work Work in Trondheim — to name a few. And the best part, this momentum shows no sign of stopping with 30+ new innovation initiatives, incubators and accelerators planned to open in 2017 across the country. Placing Norway on the International radar as a blossoming innovation hub, attracting international interest and investment.
This unique support network does not only stop with Startups. We often get so consumed in making startups ‘investor ready’, when in fact, we should be doing equally as much work into making investors ready! The company that I work for does just that. Angel Challenge caters to the other side of the table focusing on educating first-time angel investors attempting to channel some of Norway’s vast financial resources into fuelling startups. To date, 200 investors and 200 startups have been through 11 investment programs, in four cities, with more than $5M that has been invested in 16 startups since 2015. Other organisations such as StartupLab have raised the Founders Fund to support some of their 200+ companies that have taken up an office in their co-working space.
But, let’s be honest, in our world of startup, where success is associated with a 1 horned four legged mythical beast, and an ecosystem or, ‘unicorn farm’ as I like to call it, is only as good as the number of live stock it holds, where does Norway stand in all this? Whilst Norway is better known for whale sighting’s in the fjords, than its startup success stories. In 2016, the country held 44 scaleups that collectively raised $600 million. Adding this to the supportive environment that the Norwegian ecosystem provides early-stage startups, it is not too farfetched to predict unicorn sighting’s in the near future ;) thanks for reading, more to come, Matt.
Investment Figures from TheNordicWeb.com — a great source for facts, figures and articles on pan-Nordic investment activity.