Commentary on Entrepreneurship in Aftenposten, Norways largest newspaper
Translated by Maria Amelie
Oslo Innovation Week is just around the corner, and I bet that we will once again discuss that Norway is not like Silicon Valley. Why don’t founders like Mark Zuckerberg grow on our Norwegian trees?
The discussion stems undoubtedly from the real challenges: There is a need for more private capital and local investors who can help Norwegian entrepreneurs in the early stages, the market is extremely small, and the taxes are too high.
Yet, what I still find most fascinating is how well we know stories of entrepreneurial heroes and technology successes abroad – but we’re not proud of what is goes on here in Norway: Typical Norwegian could name the founders of Facebook, Google and Apple. But very few know that much of the wireless technology in their mobile phones and PC are provided by the Norwegian company Nordic Semiconductor, which has ca. 60 percent of the world market.
Or that Norwegian oil drilling technology is so exciting that the US space agency NASA uses it to detect life on Mars.
Or Kahoot! has 20 million users each month and is a world leader in education technology, according to international investors and media.
Or that entrepreneurs of Tandberg did so well that the company sold to the American IT giant Cisco and now accounts for 75 percent of their turnover in videoconferencing.
Or that one of many companies in the growing Norwegian biotechnology environment, Algeta, was bought for 17.6 billion NOK by pharmaceutical giant Bayer.
Or that Norwegian bull cattle semen is so good for business and animal welfare that we export to over 30 million NOK from the small cooperative enterprise Geno in Hamar, owned by 9,500 farmers.
And the list goes on.
I think it is sad that typical Norwegian, both in Norway and abroad, do not know this. Because Norway is more than beautiful fjords and the cheese grater. Norway is also a country with a historical heritage that is any entrepreneur country worthy; everything from vikings to whaling, shipping and revolutionary oil technology and strong research clusters in the world.
We are an extremely digitized society that uses technology long before many others in the world. We also have good prospects of adopting what we have learned from the oil industry and use it to create new green technology. And the Norwegian way of working is good for both work and family life, which means we are able to attract the best talent, especially top women from around the world.
Let us be inspired by Silicon Valley’s tale of entrepreneurial country. But let’s create our own story and find out what is a Norwegian way to drive innovation. Let us present our great entrepreneurs and communities that create breakthrough technologies.
If we do that, the world will notice. The best ideas, the best people and the best companies can then find their way to Norway. In spite of enormous technological changes in the world, we could still manage to adapt and succeed.