Norway Calling All U.S And U.K. Tech Hipsters

20180122

Following a meeting with Erna Solberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister last week, the U.S. seems keen to attract Norwegian immigrants. Fat chance! Norway boasts one of the highest standards of living in the world. Its citizens enjoy universal healthcare, five weeks of paid vacation a year, one year of parental leave split between mothers and fathers, tuition-free universities, pay equality, and strict gun control. Norway is number one in virtually every measure of quality of life, places to live, and citizen well-being, as reported in the United Nations Human Development Report and the World Happiness Report. I don’t think Norwegians are moving anywhere. This week Norwegian officials told Brussels they may seek a radical rethink of their terms in the European Economic Area if the U.K. has access to the single market for key sectors following Brexit. This may create a hurdle for Theresa May’s aim of delivering a “deep and special partnership” with the EU that goes beyond the scope of a Canada-style free trade deal. The lion has awoken, though this one does not roar, it communicates rationally in an even and respectful tone, more soft power and the language of cooperation than coercion. Wait for a bus forever and two come at the same time. Norway is rocking on the global stage this month. Well done Erna! With the tech hipster grapevine in the Valley moaning about the cost of living, pay inequality, lack of loyalty, and developers living out of cars due to the lack of affordable housing, and, the economic uncertainty of Brexit in large tech talent pools like London, Norway looks a very attractive destination for tech entrepreneurs, investors and developers from the U.S. and the U.K. With great housing that looks like posh New England, great schools and universities, great pay (Norway has one of the lowest Gini scores on the planet according to the OECD), year-round social and sports, chi chi café’s, restaurants and shopping, and a population speaking English fluently, Norway smashes it! Norway has a massive stock of world-class software-engineering talent, a thriving tech ecosystem, and a track record of venture investing and exits. Often overlooked for Sweden with its big retail tech plays like Skype, Spotify, and Klarna, Norway has a track record in B2B exits to big U.S. firms like Microsoft (FAST), Cisco (Tanberg) and Texas Instruments (Chipcon). Norway is one of the world’s best-kept tech secrets that is now out, and it"s starting to spread and attracting software developers and investors from around the world. “Oslo is becoming a vibrant hub for Norwegian and foreign talent who appreciate the transparency and quality of the ecosystem and the social safety net, but the start-ups and growth companies coming out of Norway are still hidden gems to many foreign investors. We want to shed light on this,” says Liv Freihow, a director at IKT-Norge, Norway’s trade association for the technology sector. It’s not just the great quantitative environmental factors, there are some pretty important soft social factors as well. Norway has a very egalitarian, flat, non-hierarchical social structure – everyone is equal. My experience of getting software engineering projects done in many other parts of the world is often about navigating through layers of management, bureaucracy, and decision makers to get stuff done. In Norway, software engineering staff are of the highest quality, speak excellent English (and often third and fourth languages fluently), are loyal, and don’t need anyone’s authority to execute. They are great self-starting independent-minded decision makers, who are team players, and are highly skilled in working in smaller cellular and network structures. They are often super geeks, like me. Now, before we go further, I have a confession to make. I live in Oslo with my wife and daughter. My wife is Norwegian. My office is in London, and I commute every week, but over the years I have done tons of stuff in Norway, so I might sound a bit biased, however, I believe the facts and figures speak for themselves. “Norway’s historical strength lies in extremely advanced technology for industry, be it oil and gas, hydropower, or financial infrastructure. Now, with the dramatic developments in IoT, bandwidth and security, and a growing focus on fintech, Norway has a very sharp and promising way into digital finance,” says Silvija Seres, one of Norway’s leading tech pundits and perennial industry board member. Silvija was a VP in FAST, a search company out of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) - “Norway’s MIT” - that was acquired by Microsoft in and is now known as Microsoft Development Center Norway. I worked on the IPO of a Warburg Pincus investment, emgs, which started in NTNU"s incubator, and advise a medtech play, PICTERUS, out of NTNU that is working on jaundice detection in babies using a smartphone. NTNU has a history of producing great technology plays. Norway is the eighth-largest oil exporter in the world, and with an economy based on oil and gas, natural resources and shipping, engineering and global business skills are strong. With the drop in oil prices and the global focus on the reduction of carbon fuels, the excess software engineering capacity in the energy sector has pivoted to growth areas such cleantech, medtech, fintech and digital finance. "Oslo was a bit late to the fintech game, but over the past 18 months, the fintech community as a whole and the number of accelerators has bloomed and has started to attract a globally mobile talent base that is helping to make Oslo a premier destination for global fintech and digital finance," says Jon Pycroft, Nordic Innovation and Digital Director at Santander Consumer Bank. I couldn’t agree more. I am on the Advisory Board of Huddlestock, a seed-funded company that has a WeathTech platform offering a professional investment playbook to investors, and it has come out of Norway, not London or Geneva. That’s pretty cool for a part of the world that"s not known for investment management. I should mention Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global is the largest investment fund in the world. It has over $1 trillion USD in assets, including 1.3% of all global stocks and shares, making it the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. Oh, and it has no pension liabilities. Startup Lab based in Oslo Science Park is a veteran early-stage incubator that takes a 15 percent stake in startups, boasts some pretty outstanding returns, and has churned out Norwegian stars such as Opera Software, Chipcon, GET and Mamut. Recent newcomer Katapult Accelerator launched last year with U.S. VC Sean Percival from 500 Startups and is focused on what they call “exponential technologies” such as AI, Blockchain, VR/AR and IoT. Oslo has become a startup mecca. "U.S. Investors would typically look at Norway and Europe as a buyout zone rather than an investment zone. That is starting to change with the volume and quality of early-stage startups in countries like Norway," says Tellef Thorleifsson, a partner at Northzone. Northzone is one of my favorite VCs boasting a tiger in each of their five funds. Started in Norway 20 years ago, and with a Nordic and European focus, their investors say they deliver returns comparable to the best West Coast VCs. Norway would not be Norway without state support for startups. Innovation Norway, the government’s arm for venture funding and innovation programme development helps startups with seed capital and international development. It was an investor in one of my startups and played a key role right up to our exit. One of Innovation Norway’s big messages is “Why don’t you start your business in Norway?” Arne Tonning, a partner at Alliance Venture based in Oslo, lives in the Valley and is the Investor in Residence at Innovation Norway’s Palo Alto office. Arne was my Chair at Integrasco, a big data and analytics startup I ran a few years back, and has made investments in plays like Xeneta, the poster child for successful Norwegian startups. He is focused on “building bridges” with U.S. companies that want to tap into the rich talent pool in Norway. “While we typically work with the best tech founders in Norway to pursue big opportunities internationally, we recently participated in a syndicate with leading Silicon Valley VCs investing in a U.S. company, yet to be announced, applying computer vision and machine learning to a traditional industry where Norway is a global leader and the most advanced market. The company is setting up in Norway as a first market and platform for further expansion with an ambition to transform the industry worldwide. This a great example of how the best talent aggressively goes after the biggest opportunities, wherever they may be, with a proposition of tech-enabled disruption or transformation”, says Tonning. One of Alliance Venture’s exits was portfolio company Encap, a fintech security play which was acquired by U.S. AllClear ID. AllClear left the Encap head office and team in Norway due to the quality, stability, productivity and loyalty of the team. “Norway has the potential to play multiple roles and come out on top in this period of global economic transition. It is all about identifying the opportunities and putting together the team, tech and business models wherever they need to be in the world, before executing with speed and force,” says Tonning. The global competition for talent in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) is tough and numerically difficult to compete with globally in a small country like Norway with a population of five million people, especially with India and China and the number of STEM graduates they produce every year. My guidance to the Norwegian government is simple: Erna, open up a tech visa scheme to attract global STEM talent to help pivot from the dependence on a carbon-based economy and position Norway as a global digital leader in 21st-century industry. Tech entrepreneurs, investors and developers from around the world, this is Norway calling, consider notice given!

Ист.: Forbes Energy, Ссылка: https://www.forbes.com/sites/l...
Темы:Транснацики, Война, Будущее,

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