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Norway - the fastest growing startup ecosystem in the Nordics in 2017

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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 in 2017.

  

thomas_angel-challenge.jpgThomas Berglund (Angel Challenge)

 

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 in from 2015, in a few short years, the once dormant ecosystem is proving to have been a sleeping giant (or troll) overtaking its Scandinavian neighbours as the fastest growing Nordic ecosystem in 2016, second only to Sweden.

 

 

The catalyst in this 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 DNB 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.

 

“Keep an eye on Norway: Its startup scene is about to go huge”

Haje Jan Kamps, TechCrunch

 

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. Also industry focused innovation hubs have emerged; X2 Labs and Innovation Dock in Stavanger, Impact Hub in Bergen, and Flow in Tromsø. This momentum shows no sign of stopping with 30+ new innovation hubs, incubators and accelerators planned to open in 2017 across the country. Putting 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. Angel Challenge are catered to the other side of the table focusing on educating first time angel investors attempting to channel some of the nation's vast financial resources into fuelling startups. These 130 angels, and growing, have invested more than 30 MNOK in 15 startups in the last year. Others such as StartupLab have raised a second fund to support some of their 200+ companies that have taken up office in their co-working space.

 

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.

  

 

About the authors:

Thomas Berglund, a Swede living in Norway since 1994. A serial entrepreneur with three exits has been investing in start-ups for more than 10 years and as Business Angel full time the last two years. Thomas holds a portfolio of sixteen companies. The latest project, Angel Challenge, co-founded together with Startup Norway, is a hands-on program to empower private investors to co-invest in start-ups. He is also running a co-working place together with Startup Norway for Investors in Oslo called OHOI (Oslo House of Innovation).

 

Co-authored with Matthew Smith, born in South Africa, brought up in London and moved to Norway 5 months ago. Former Venture Capitalist in London and now Program Manager in Angel Challenge