More than 60 events have been gathered at the annual Oslo Innovation Week, the largest innovation fair in all of Europe.
Ranging from investors meetings to insightful talks and pitch competitions, Oslo became a global arena for connecting, networking, and learning more about innovation in the startup world.
The convention catered to circa 9000 participants under the three main themes of the conference: Startups (funding, growth. and venture), Tech (Edtech, Medtech, Fintech), and Creative ( design, gaming, communication).
The event has been anticipated by Oslo Startup Weekend, and it has been now running from Monday 12th October until Friday 16th. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Oslo Innovation Week, the official opening ceremony was held at the National Opera & Ballet, with the participation of the Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon, Minister of Finance Siv Jensen, and Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland. During the opening ceremony, Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway, emphasized the need to shift focus away from the Norwegian oil business, and develop the technological and innovation sectors. To close the ceremony, Gelato Group won the Oslo Innovation Award for “the innovative way it has restructured and increased productivity in the distribution of print jobs globally”.
Women at the forefront
This year, the focus is on solutions and innovation within Startup and Tech, with a particular keen eye on portraying the women behind the scene of the Norwegian startup world. The Opening ceremony saw a refined list of female keynote speakers ranging from American Jeanne M. Sullivan (founder and investor) to local Anita Schjøll Brede (community builder, entrepreneur) and Israeli Orit Hashai (Braiola founder).
Various initiatives have been dedicated to promote women entrepreneurship and to underline the need of gender equalization, still missing also at a Scandinavian level. To encourage early stage learning, OIW has included a full day of activities for young elementary school girls: Girl Tech Fest. The Deichmanske Library hosted ca. 300 girls for a full day of coding, 3D printing, workshop activities. A celebration of the successful women in the tech and startup business were also front and center at the Female Business Innovation conference (FBI) on Thursday.
Health-tech and clean-tech catch investor interest
Greater space in the program has been given to presenting startups in the field of health-tech and clean-tech. The Norwegian Investment Forum is the largest annual venture capital event in Norway, gathering the venture capital community, business angels, and Norwegian technology start-up companies. Innovations and energy and hardware were prominent, but it was the health and med-tech startups that were the highlight of the event. Around 50 startups presented and pitched their products and services to possible investors, focusing on alternative and innovative ways to solve problems in the medical, energy and construction sector.
The 100 pitches competition was held concurrently at the same location. Here, 100 startups pitched their products to a jury composed of, Bård Stranheim (Innovasjon Norge), Sean Percival (500 startups), Tellef Thorleifsson (Northzone), Ekaterina Gianelli (Inventure), Kristin Riise (DNB) and Jeanne Sullivan (Sullivan Adventures, StarVest) . The winner was announced on Thursday received a 300.000 NOK and 6 months of free desk space at The Trampery in London from the Oslo Innovation Embassy.
Location kick-off for a new co-working space
Concurrently with Oslo Innovation Week, a new co-working location had its opening and it hosted the OIW’s opening party. MESH is a co-working space and independent initiative for Norwegian entrepreneurs, intended to be a new location to network, connect, and make things happen. Many talks and events have been already held under its roof, such as StartupGrind, Drink Enterpreneurs and Company Crawl.
International interest in Norway and the Nordics
Oslo Innovation Week is not only showcasing its Norwegian talents, but bringing international movers and shakers in the startup business into the mix. The Nordic countries are of huge interest for American investors: for Jeanne Sullivan (founder and investor), the momentum in the startup ecosystem is growing exponentially in the Nordics, and Norwegians have to learn how to sell their ideas to international investors. Sean Percival, working now in Oslo at 500 Startup, sees an organic pattern in the Nordic startup model, where the co-founder-systems have more balance and stability in the development of startup companies, and the gender paid gap and equality is higher. He also sees a huge potential and higher possibilities for Nordic companies in the multimedia business, as unlike the U.S., the Nordic are able to create a higher digital penetration in media and video production.