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Is Norway Leaving Its Tech Startups Out In The Cold?

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I am regularly reminded of the amazing innovation coming out of the Nordic region. Countries like Sweden, Finland and even tiny Denmark regularly punch above their weight, producing global companies like Spotify, Rovio, Tradeshift and Everbread. But there remains one country which seems bizarrely content not to engage nearly as much with the global tech scene, and that’s Norway.

There’s a huge irony here. The web browser Opera started out in 1994 as a research project within Telenor, Norway’s main telco. If they’d played it right we would be continuing to talk about Opera, rather than Chrome, Safari or Explorer these days. And there remains a few bright sparks on the horizon like the innovative Bipper, founded by Silje Vallestad. But take a look at the stats and they are disappointing.


There are only 42 companies listed on CrunchBase for Norway. Because of its global nature, CrunchBase is usually a good indication for how internationally active the startup are in a country. In Finlad there are 55, Sweden 131.

And despite a world-renowned education system, social support system and a great quality of life, Norway looks like it is losing the battle to join the global innovation race.

In February, a report titled “Norway scores poorly on innovation” news site E24 noted that Norway came out badly on an EU Commission overview of innovation and R&D.

Indeed, Norway ranked as achieving only moderate levels of innovation, and was in the same bracket as Greece, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Malta and Slovakia.

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