Highlights from Oslo Innovation Week 2018

To move the world forward, Oslo Innovation Week aims to solve real global challenges through sustainable business solutions. On 24–28 September 2018, 13,000 delegates and 384 speakers came together to highlight, discuss, invest and learn. 144 partners organized an overwhelming 56 events in the city centre of Oslo.

Siw Andersen
Nov 25, 2018 · 11 min read
LEFT: Silvija Seres and RIGHT Nathana Sharma (SingularityU) at the Official Opening of Oslo Innovation Week 2018. Photos: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare.

In 2014, when I started working on Oslo Innovation Week with the Oslo Business Region team, partners and event organizers (est. 2005), there were very few startup and tech events in Oslo. Now you can attend at least two really good ones daily. However, Oslo Innovation Week (and Oslo and Norway) does not compete in a local championship but a global race. Because it’s definitely not a lack of innovation and tech conferences out there. In fact, it’s the contrary. Slush in Helsinki and in Asia. Web Summit in Lisbon. SXSW in Austin. SingularityU all over the world. Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. CES in Las Vegas. Millions of events.

International perspective. To be a valuable platform for Norwegian companies and the international event organizers, attendees and speakers, Oslo Innovation Week has a global ambition, because the business is global. This year 13,000 delegates chose Oslo Innovation Week as a destination to do business. And we are very happy to see a growth from 24% international attendees in 2017 to 31% in 2018. Our long-term goal is to have 40% international and 60% Norwegian attendees.

“Oslo Innovation Week brings together an incredible group of entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders from Norway and around the world. The energy is electric.” — Nathana O’Brien Sharma (US), Singularity University, Speaker at the Official Opening

Yet Norwegian. When we speak to international journalists from Forbes, E27 or CNN Tech — all whom visited in 2018, they are interested in technology and sustainability of course, but also how these are tied in with Norway and Norwegian business, culture, people and values. How does a society that is built on trust do business? Why do many international companies use Norway as a testbed for tech? Why is Oslo European Green Capital 2019?

From everything tech to sustainable solutions. Where a world is facing climate change, heavy surveillance, more pollution and denser cities, we need solutions that help us create a better future. Oslo Innovation Week’s ambition is to be the leading conference globally showcasing real business solutions to UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And Oslo aims to showcase innovation in action, not just talk.

Andreas Thorsheim from Otovo Solar, winner of Oslo Innovation Award 2018. Photo: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

Oslo Innovation Week 2018 in numbers

Our partners, 144 pioneering Norwegian and international companies, startup organizations, corporates, investors, the public sector and educational institutions, and the Oslo Innovation Week team filled 5 days with talks, panels, networking and workshops in the city centre of Oslo. Here are some key facts:

56 events
144 event organizers
384 Norwegian and international speakers
13.000 delegates, 30% international

516 million users reached in digital media (possible impressions on social media and digital articles)
728 media articles written
35 international media like El Pais, Fast Company, BBC, Deutsche Welle and Forbes visited during the week.

LEFT: Mike Butcher, Editor in Chief of Techcrunch at the Oslo Blockchain Summit by The Pathfounder. RIGHT: Attendee demo at the Cutting Edge Festival. Photos: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare
LEFT: Manolin, winner of OIW 100 Pitches - Powered by Oslo Innovation Week and DNB. RIGHT: Andy Chen, WeOrder, at Creators Shift by Shifter and MESH. Photos: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

What were the hot hot hot topics in 2018?

We belive that Oslo Innovation Week’s foundation — collaboration — is vital to meet UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. That is why this year’s theme was ‘Dugnad’, which means voluntarily community work and heritages from Old Norse dugnaðr (“help”).

“Loved the theme “dugnad”, and hope Oslo Innovation Week will keep up the good work putting Oslo on the map”- Itera, Event Organizer of “Predict the Future by creating it — Using Moonshot thinking to change your business”

56 events put forward interesting topics through engaging talks, discussions, panel talks. full day conferences, summits and workshops. And across all events sustainable solutions and powercouples were at core. Below are some of the most popular headlines, followed by events. Of course most events included more than just the one and this is just an overall guideline to help you visualize what happened that week.

Urban development, smart city and solutions that help citizens have better lives — like Oslo & Friends by the city of Oslo, Sustainable innovation in mobility and how to master it by EGGS Design & Aalborg University Copenhagen, Better and Safer Cities Using VR and AR by Hamarregionen Utvikling, Høgskolen i Innlandet, EONReality & Arena Innlandet, Reciprocity for Sustainable Cities by Founder Institute Norway, Founder Institute Silicon Valley & TotalCtrl

Thea Sommerseth Myren from Diwala at the The Official Opening of Oslo Innovation Week 2018. Photos: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

Diversity and advancing gender equality — like Shifting Diversity Gear by Professional Women’s Network Global & Professional Women’s Network Global, Girl Tech Fest by TENK Tech Nettverk, Oda Nettverket, Deichmanske bibliotek, IKT Norge & Norway Makers.

Girl Tech Fest by TENK Tech Nettverk, Oda Nettverket, Deichmanske bibliotek, IKT Norge & Norway Makers. Photo: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

Startup, scaleup and investment — like OIW 100 Pitches powered by Oslo Innovation Week and DNB, Nordic Investor Breakfast by Bakken & Bæck, Snö, Inventure & Arkwright X, The World is Ready for Norwegian Tech (But are you ready for the world) by Escalon & Goodwille, DNB NXT 2018 by DNB, Thinking Bigger and Aiming for High Growth with Global Impact by Astia Angels, Grundr & Innovation Norway, Oslo Innovation Week Scale-Up Workshop by Oslo Innovation Week, BI Norwegian Business School & ScaleupXQQ, Energy Platforms for the Future by Subsea Valley, Techstars & Equinor, Coach talks: How to overcome the toughest entrepreneurial challenges by The Human Aspect & MESH, StartupLab Invitational by StartupLab, Northzone & Creandum, DNB NXT 2018 by DNB, The Creators Shift — F*uck Up Edition by Shifter & MESH, Power Coupling the New Way by Sopra Steria & Sopra Steria UK.

Investing in impact solutions — like Investing in Impact & Peace with Chemi Peres, Pitango VC by Startup Grind Global & Startup Grind Oslo, Ping-Pong, Pitches! by Katapult Accelerator & Nordic Impact, and Funding for Impact by Nordic Impact, Hub.no & +Impact, Pangea Africa Tech Summit by Pangea Accelerator and partners.

LEFT:Ping-Pong, Pitches! by Katapult Accelerator & Nordic Impact. RIGHT: The Official Opening of Oslo Innovation Week 2018. Photo: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

Finance, finTech, Blockchain and data— like Oslo Blockchain Summit: Empowering Sustainable Development by The Pathfounder, Digital Humanity — Improving financial lives using psychology and AI by PsyML & Payr, Finpact — Global Impact through Financial Technologies by Oslo FinTech Hub, British Embassy Oslo - International Department for International Trade & Nordea, On a blockchain, who decides? by Blockchangers & Oslo Freedom Forum, CryptoSociety: are we ready? by LPO — Lithuanian Professionals in Oslo, Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA), Bank of Lithuania, Crypto Economy Organization & Blockchain Centre Vilnius, Tap into the Young Mindset by The Innovation Effect, Equinor and SAS, and Red Cross Codeathon — Community Based Surveillance by Norges Røde Kors & International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and The Official Opening of Oslo Innovation Week 2018.

Green solutions — like Meet the Green Investors by Climate-KIC and OREEC and United for the Future by BySpire and city of Oslo.

Photo: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

Health, wellness and medtech — like A shortcut to Well-being via AR-VR+Gaming by LPO — Lithuanian Professionals in Oslo, Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) & Infobalt, Using Technology in Health Prevention — chatbot for smoking and snus cessation by Norwegian Directorate of Health & Norwegian Cancer Society, Market Dialogue — Innovation Partnership — Developing new solutions for stroke victims by the city of Oslo, Enterprise Estonia Innovation Norway, C3 — Centre for Connected Care & Sunnaas Hospital, Live recording podcast: Radium: Trends & highlights within health and innovation by Norwegian Cancer Society, Enterprise Estonia & Radforsk.

Education, edtech and the future of learning — like The Edtech Day by Oslo EdTech Cluster & Nordic Edtech Alliance.

EdTech Day hosted by Oslo EdTech Cluster and Nordic EdTech. Photo: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

Circular Economy — like Unlimited opportunities in a Circular Economy by Innovation Norway, Enterprise Europe & EEA Grants

Sustainability & multi topic — like Pecha Kucha Night Oslo — Sustainability Session by SoCentral, Verdens Beste Nyheter & Pecha Kucha Night, Predict the Future by creating it — Using Moonshot thinking to change your business by SingularityU & Itera, Building Sh*t That Matters! by Agora London, Join us in building the Norwegian service ecosystem by Telenor, and The Official Opening of Oslo Innovation Week 2018.

Media and the future of journalism — like Oslo Media Meeting 2018 by Oslo Media House & Global Alliance for Media and Innovation,

Large events that touches upon several topics like Cutting Edge Festival by Conventor, UiO, OsloTech and Inven2 and Oslo Business Forum — The Future of Technology and Sustainability: Scandinavia 4.0 — The Nordic Path towards a New Economy, Oslo & Friends by the city of Oslo, and DNB NXT 2018 by DNB.

Krist Kutarna at Oslo Business Forum. Photo: Stian Aleksander Rasmussen / Oslo Business Forum

384 keynote speakers

Some truly amazing and pioneering people took the stage at Oslo Innovation Week 2018. 384 speakers to be precise. Out of these 58% were Norwegian and 42% were international. 42% were startups or scale-ups, which resonates well with Oslo Innovation Week’s aim to put forward new voices and be a place for startups to meet relevant network. 47% of the speakers were women and 53% were men.

LEFT: Torgeir Reve from BI Business School and Are Traasdahl, CEO & Founder of Spring Capital at the Scaleup Workshop hosted by Oslo Business Region, ScaleupXQ, BI Business School RIGHT: Amber Baldet, Cofounder of @GrowClovyr, at the Official Opening of Oslo Innovation Week 2018. Photos: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare
LEFT: President Barack Obama at Oslo Business Forum RIGHT: Anita Schjøll Brede, CEO & Co-Founder at @theIrisAI, at Nordic Blockchain Summit hosted by The Pathfounder. Photos: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

Who attended?

Oslo Innovation Week 2018 brought together 13,000 people across 56 events. The number of delegates has increased from 11,700 across 53 events in 2017, 10,700 across 75 events in 2016, 9,400 across 72 events in 2015 and 3.700 across 32 events in 2010. However the ambition has not necessarily been to attract more people but to generate more value for those attending and those hosting the events.

And what do the people who attends do? 28% are innovation leaders/decision makers. 22% are startups and 11% investors. 17% work in an organization or in the public sector.

You visited from all over the world! Of course the Nordic countries are well represented. Many came from UK, the Baltic countries, Germany, France, Belgium and Spain. On the list is also the US, Canada and even Israel and Croatia. From the far east people travelled from places like China, India Thailand, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Japan. And people from Somalia, Kenya and even New Zealand are represented too.

“Oslo Innovation Week is a dose of inspiration once a year, which reminds us how to align technology for the betterment of mankind” - Chim Himiduamge, Fidenz Technologies, Sri Lanka

We asked the attendees and 414 people responded. 65% stated they got new useful contacts and actual leads, and 71% said they got new useful ideas.

Photo: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

International media and digital reach

We aim to be a unique voice in the overcrowded event industry. That is why we are extremely happy that visiting media like Forbes, CNN Tech, BBC, The Nordic Web, Fast Company and El Pais find the events during Oslo Innovation Week relevant. They rate the program relevance to 4.4 (out of 5) and 100% would recommend Oslo Innovation Week to others. 59 media attended from 15 countries.

“Oslo Innovation Week is a great experience to learn more about Norwegian innovation and new technologies. I’d recommend it to anyone for a deeper look into Norwegian culture, business and the future of Scandinavia” - Arianna O´Dell, Airlink Marketing (US)

The events during Oslo Innovation Week 2018 reached 516 million unique users (95.2 in 2017) — that means potential impressions in social media and digital articles (Meltwater 1/6–29/10). It’s no secret we believe that the high increase in digital reach and number of articles published is partly due to former US President, Barack Obama, being one of the speakers at Oslo Business Forum.

The Official Opening Party: Lindstrøm DJ-set infront of the Pushwagniziser by BEKK. Photo: Oslo Innovation Week / Gorm K. Gaare

What’s next?

I often ask myself; how can Oslo Innovation Week stand out — and make a difference? Why do you choose, or not choose, Oslo Innovation Week? How can Oslo Innovation Week be a relevant, intelligent and top choice event for Oslo, Norwegian companies and our partners?

Collaboration. Over the past 13 years, Oslo Innovation Week has changed enormously and more will change in the future. Yet two things will stay the same: Oslo Innovation Week is a place for co-creation and business. It will continue to be a platform were Norwegian entrepreneurs and innovation leaders meet their international counterparts and highlight sustainable solutions. Our aim is to create a space for sustainable business.

Powercouples. Oslo Innovation Week has been and can be an even more important tool in building bridges between corporates and startups, between different sectors and across hierarchies and roles globally. How can we do this more effectively?

People need people. Over the years, we and our partners have become really good at making great events. (smirk) And we are really proud to be on lists like these: Here are all the 2018 tech events that you need to know about — Forbes. And despite Youtube and streaming, I believe people will still need a place to meet, discuss and do business a little while longer. What kind of concepts and collaborations do we want to have in the coming years?

Every year since 2005 Oslo Innovation Week has been a collaboration. The attendees, speakers and event organizers are all active participants, and we set both our own and collaborative goals. I am excited to see what we can create together for next year! Save the date 23–29 September 2019 and let us know if you want to join.

The Oslo Innovation Week 2018 partners. Oslo Innovation Week is owned by the city of Oslo and Innovation Norway. Oslo Business Region is project manager.
Thank you to the awesome Oslo Innovation Week 2018 volunteers
Oslo Innovation Week 2018 Day 2
Oslo Innovation Week 2018 Day 3
Oslo Innovation Week 2018 Day 4

Siw Andersen

Written by

Head Oslo Innovation Week @osloiw & Director International Relations @oslobizreg. I love food, design, traveling, art, animals and mountains.

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