It is a lively and exciting week for Oslo. From 24 - 28 September, the city is hosting more than 10 000 visitors. They have gathered together for Oslo Innovation Week.
The five-day festival is a collaboration between startups, corporations and key industry players. Together, they are committed to creating applicable business solutions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They want to achieve this through entrepreneurship, technology and innovation.
Actions speak louder than words
The week is all about innovation in action. There are no sales presentations and no motivational speeches. Instead, people have come together to pitch ideas and devise solutions.
It is not just a chance to discuss change. Merely talking about it is not enough. Rather, the participants intend to actually make change happen. Everyone involved, from entrepreneurs to experts, innovators to investors, are working together to bring about sustainable solutions.
Strength across sectors
Oslo Innovation Week is committed to building “power couples”. This is achieved by encouraging collaboration across different divisions. For example, by pairing business with academia, or the private sector with the public sector. The idea is that experts from the two fields will complement each other. Together, they have a better chance of solving the challenges that exist in the world today.
A vibrant atmosphere
"There is a general feeling of the opportunity or potential in the Impact space here in Oslo", Matthew Smith, Founder of TheLunicorn.com, observed. Smith noted how the world has woken up to the SDGs in the past years. "It really feels like Norway may well be a great incubation ground for Impact-led organisations in different industries", he said.
There is a welcoming and open nature to the festival. The week's events, all of which are based in downtown Oslo, are there for everyone. Additionally, More than 70% of them cost nothing to attend.
One of the many inspiring events was the Girl Tech-Fest. This event is designed to get more girls into programming. More importantly, it shows young girls that there is a place for them alongside the boys in the tech industry. Held on Tuesday 25th September at the Oslo Public Library, the day-long event was attended by more than 300 school-aged girls.
As part of Oslo Innovation Week, 100 early-stage startups have pitched their ideas. The pitches were made in front of an audience, as well as a jury of experts. As well as polishing their pitch and getting themselves heard, the startups go on to compete for 300 000 NOK.
To pitch on this platform is an excellent opportunity for a startup to reach people they might otherwise never have contact with. The attendees at the festival are diverse, from all layers of the business ecosystem. Although only one startup will win the main prize, there are gains to be had for all who take part.
A lack of later-stage investors
There are many support networks in place for early-stage startups in Norway. Smith pointed out that this support has led to an increase in the number of early-stage investors in the past three years. "However, with only a few new players like SNØ Ventures, and DNB Ventures writing cheques bigger than $1 million, companies are having to look abroad to raise more than $2-10 million", he explained.
This scarcity does not have to be a negative thing. Rather, it appears to create an opportunity to join forces across Scandinavia.
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