Country Guide

Norway

Norway

Guest Editor

Anine Willums Karp

Managing Director at 657 Oslo

Anine Willums Karp is the Managing Director of 657 Oslo – Norway’s largest Coworking Space for the Creative Industries. Together with founders Anniken Fjelberg and Joachim Levin, their vision is to accelerate passionate people and ignite great ideas. The workspace acts as a catalyst for connections and brings the community together in various ways, from informal gatherings around the ping-pong table to content-driven events led by the community itself. To keep the values behind their Creative Collaborative Community intact, curation is key.


Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.

Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.

Startup ecosystem summary

Key Startup Cities

Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger, Tromsø

Connected Country Ecosystems

Sweden, Denmark, Finland, The UK, Germany

Differentiators

  • A collaborative ecosystem with increased focus on public and private relations
  • A solid and stable support system for startups and entrepreneurs
  • Significant amount of venture capital investment blooming
  • Rapid growth of new startups in recent years

Challenges

  • Lack of business angels and business developers
  • Untapped potential for early-stage capital
  • Market fails to support startups with development and market introduction
  • Shortage of scaleups and high-growth companies
  • Small market – only 4% of Europe’s total population

Editor's Guide

Introduction

The startup community in the big cities has flourished over the past few years, and so the national scene follows. The Norwegian startup ecosystem has been expanding massively in recent years, with tech entrepreneurs now looking for new ways to grow even further. Norway’s focus on enabling new companies to grow has certainly matured, increasing the levels of value creation, scalability and sustainable growth throughout our country.

Thanks to a solid ecosystem of coworking spaces, accelerators, incubators, hubs, investors and support funds, a wave of Norwegian companies have entered local and international markets. In Oslo alone, there are more than 50 innovation spaces all existing to help entrepreneurs shoot for the stars. As a positive ripple effect, Oslo-born, as well as Norwegian startups and scaleups in general, now have the possibility to take an important and profitable position in the global ecosystem.

Outlook

Norway faces several major challenges. On the one hand, we face major global challenges in areas such as climate, health and energy, which calls for a more sustainable society. At the same time, Norway must adapt from a strong petroleum-based business sector to other and more sustainable activities. This entails a strong need for more knowledge, creativity and innovation.

We highlight seven critical success factors that are of crucial importance for Norwegian entrepreneurs’ ability to survive and grow – be it internationally, nationally and regionally. These are all in our ecosystem’s top of mind focus going forward.

  1. Market orientation and internationalization must be built into the core of the business model from day 1
  2. We need to make it more attractive to be a growth entrepreneur
  3. Increased competence in business development is desired
  4. Better and easier access to competent risk capital, public and private
  5. Easier access to information and support
  6. A support system that takes the entrepreneurs seriously, and a tight follow-up with dialogue and guidance over time
  7. Good entrepreneurial environments, ecosystems and networks

Featured Tech Startups

Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.

Startup Showcase

Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.

A No-code Web Design Platform for Professional Creatives. Vev is the only all-in-one design platform for professionals to create and launch unique web experiences with complete creative and technical freedom. The team has secured NOK 50 million in fresh capital. In addition to Swedish EQT Ventures, the existing Norwegian shareholders Sagene Tech Ventures and Skyfall invested capital in the last round.

Focus Industries

Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.

FintechNorway is home to over 120 fintech companies with the vast majority of solutions available right now focusing on mobile payments and online banking, though other segments such as data and analytics, insurtech, data and analytics, and wealthtech, are also represented. Data from TheFactory.
Green TechnologyEven though the oil age is beginning to take its toll, there’s still the sea – attracting some of the foremost entrepreneurs in this country. Green Technology is growing rapidly. Several investors are increasing their funds – among these are Katapult Ocean, which closed its second early-stage fund of NOK 25 million in 2020, and Fynd, which will raise half a billion NOK. Companies to note in the time ahead are: Seas of Norway, Wavefoil, Navico, Optoscale, BRIM Explorer, Inovo, Otovo, Ocean Oasis, Evoy and Innomar.
SaaSThere are plenty of SaaS companies growing quickly, and certainly a higher level of AI startups established. We also experience that many more doors are opening up for B2B startups, where large corporate companies show interest in collaborating with startup companies. This gets many of our most promising software startups off to a great start.

Talent

Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.

  • Technical TalentAdvanced
  • Marketing TalentAdvanced
  • Experienced TalentModerate
  • International TalentModerate

Culture and History

Editor’s commentary on how the country’s culture and history have impacted the ecosystem.

It’s considered relatively uncomplicated to start a business in Norway, but rigid work regulations and relatively heavy bureaucratic processes are perceived as obstacles to Norwegian entrepreneurship. Norway has a relatively high proportion of young growth companies (gazelles), but there are few innovative new establishments, and the majority of growth companies remain small. A lack of culture for innovation as well as limited knowledge and experience, especially within commercialization and scaling, are considered to be the main reasons why there are few major global successes. An attractive labor market, little need for – and willingness to – take risks may explain some of the low pace of innovation.

We’ve seen a good growth of entrepreneurial environments in the private sector in the last couple of years. Such environments help to create commitment to take the chance to live out the dream of creating something of your own. The ecosystem that increasingly consist of more and more incubators, knowledge hubs, innovation hubs and coworking spaces such as MESH, StartupLab, 657 Oslo, Innovation Dock, Bergen Works, Work-Work, DIGS, Blender and FLOW are important for building culture, national and international networks, and for increased attention from politicians and investors. And we’re starting to see the ripple effect – since 2010 there’s been a 66 percent increase in scaleup companies.

Interested in becoming more involved in this ecosystem and connecting with local ecosystem leaders? Let us know.

Community

Active Investors

Antler Norway (Oslo): Based on the number of companies in the portfolio (over 250), Antler is one of the world's largest tech investors for early stage companies.

Northzone (Stockholm): Headquartered in Sweden, but active investor in Norway.

ProVenture (Trondheim)

Sagene Tech Ventures (Oslo): Sagene Tech Ventures is a pre-seed venture fund established in Oslo in 2016 investing in B2B SaaS companies based in Norway.

Sarsia (Bergen): Sarsia is a Norwegian early stage Venture Capital fund manager investing in technology companies within the energy / technology and biotechnology / life science sectors.

Skyfall Ventures (Oslo): Early stage venture capital firm. Backing companies with extraordinary founders that leverage technology to scale fast in markets ripe for change.

TRK Group (Oslo): TRK Group is an Oslo-based Active Ownership Firm, founded by long-term McKinsey Senior Partner Trond Riiber Knudsen. TRK Group is aiming to catalyse growth for promising entrepreneurial ventures across three particularly exciting domains: Disruptive Technologies, Digital service transformation, and Emerging Africa.

incubators

T:lab (Steinkjer)

Validé (Stavanger)

accelerators

ITSAccelerator (Stavanger): Accelerator program managed by Validé.

Startups Raising Capital
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Coworking Spaces/Hubs

COLAB (Larvik)

Coworking Norge (Country-wide): As a member of one of the coworking places in the network Coworking Norge, you have free access to flexi places up to 5 days per. month (with a few exceptions).

CoWorx (Kristiansand)

Digs (Trondheim)

Fabrikken (Lillehammer)

Oslo Science Park (Oslo): Focused on life sciences.

PARK (Hamar)

StartupLab (Oslo, Bergen)

TheFactory (Oslo): Focuses on Fintech & Proptech.

conferences

Technoport Conference (Trondheim): Technoport Conference is an international deep tech event, which contributes to turning research-driven technological innovation into valuable real solutions.

meetups
Government Programs

Oslo Business Region: Oslo Business Region was established 1 January 2014 and is a limited company funded and owned by the City of Oslo. Its key objectives are to work for more successful innovation and technology startups in Oslo, collaboration between public and private companies, talent attraction and international profiling. In addition, it supports businesses in Oslo during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Non-Government Organizations

Ungt Entreprenørskap: A non-profit, nationwide organization that, together with the education system, the business community and other actors, works to develop children and young people's creativity, creative joy and belief in themselves.

Country Snapshot

Economy

Startup funding
Startup funding
US$600 million (2020)
Standard of living
Standard of living
Global rank: N/A
Innovation
Innovation
Global rank: 20 (2020)
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship
Global rank: 21 (2022)
Annual GDP growth
Annual GDP growth
3.9% (2021)
(Global avg. 3.0%)
Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business
Global rank: 9 (2019)
Ease of starting a business
Ease of starting a business
Global rank: 25
Research and development
Research and development
2.3% of GDP
(Global avg. 2.3%)
Contract enforcement
Contract enforcement
Global rank: 3

Sources

Startup Funding: Dealroom
STANDARD OF LIVING: International Monetary Fund - GDP per capita (PPP)
INNOVATION: Global Innovation Index
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Global Entrepreneurship Index
ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: World Bank
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: World Bank
EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS: World Bank
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: World Bank
CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: World Bank

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

Society

Population
Population
5.4 million (2020)
Government
Government
Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
Stability
Stability
Global rank: 4 (2020)
Internet usage
Internet usage
97.0% (2020)
Smartphone usage
Smartphone usage
67.5% (2013)
Literacy
Literacy
N/A
Population under 15
Population under 15
17% (2021)
Median age
Median age
N/A

Sources

POPULATION: Worldometer
GOVERNMENT: The World Factbook
STABILITY: Global Innovation Index
INTERNET USAGE: International Telecommunications Union
SMARTPHONE USAGE: Newzoo
LITERACY: World Bank
POPULATION UNDER 15: World Bank
MEDIAN AGE: The World Factbook

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

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