Fancy a month in Palo Alto?
Applications are welcome to Innovation Norway's flagship business development program, taking place in Silicon Valley this Fall.
The third Tech INCubator (TINC) program gives selected participants a foot in the Valley, with startups leaving the program having "developed and verified a roadmap to internationalization", according to Innovation Norway.
In practice this means desks at a Palo Alto incubator and entry to the Kauffman FastTrac TechVenture program. You'll also be exposed to pitching sessions where you can test your concept on potential customers and "friendly" investors.
Apps4Norge was a competition organised jointly by IKT Norge (ICT Norway) and Difi, the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment. Prizes worth NOK 150,000 (€20,000) were on offer for apps and ideas utilising public data to benefit society.
The government did its bit by opening up a raft of new datasets. Location and weather data were the most utilised in the 50 ideas and 38 prototype apps submitted to the jury. The most interesting ideas combined multiple datasets, such as a map application for sailors combining location and weather data.
The digital eyes of Europe are on Amsterdam today as The Next Web's sold out European Conference gets underway. Leading the Norwegian contingent is Swipe, one of 20 finalists in the eagerly awaited Microsoft BizSpark Startup Rally.
Co-founders Horia Cernusca and Håkon Eide have been hard at work perfecting their presentation software since winning Oslo's last Startup Weekend. Today they unveil their product, billed as "a new way to deliver and watch presentations - from any device to any number of devices, in real-time".
This past week we had the opportunity to participate in MESH's 1 year anniversary, and finally check out co-working space that's bringing together the community necessary for an entrepreneurial ecosystem and making some noise about it.
A startup ecosystem is sorely needed in Norway. There are some cool startups popping up there, but despite having the same population as Helsinki and a major tech companies like Opera located in Oslo, you really don't hear of many startups outside the oil and gas industry.
But MESH is making a movement happen by being a grassroots space 'by and for' entrepreneurs. Their 2500 m2 building located right in Oslo's city center offers around 50 desks and 9 offices. On top of that they have an entrepreneur-geared cafe, a new bar (which divides into three meeting spaces during the day), and a nightclub with a retractable roof, which doubles as an event space for 400 people. It's... a nice place.
And the space is growing in cool areas. On top of constructing a bigger community space, they're adding a sound studio for artists that need equipment, and right now they're putting together a Maker Space with 3D printers and hardware tools for hackers and artists to come up with new inventions.
Rocket Internet Is Heading North - Launches CupoNation in Finland With Norway And Russia Next On The List
Rocket Internet is one of those companies that create a lot attention and there are mixed feelings about what they do. However, it is hard to argue with their success, as most of the companies that are a part of Rocket Internet are largely highly profitable.
From live questions on a panel debate to fan comments at a sports game, more and more TV output incorporates social media content. never.no's Interactivity suite offers its clients the ability to monitor, filter, approve, and harvest user-generated content from around the web - using Twitter hashtags for example.
Most ArcticStartup readers will know all about Startup Weekends. In Norway the 54-hour events have been the breeding ground of many innovative businesses, including Soundrop, ClickLift, Pido and Swipe.
Now all the way from San Diego comes an event with a twist, as Startup Weekend Oslo's Project Manager Erik Holthe Eriksen explains.
“We see veterans of the armed forces as a great resource, and understand that the transition to civilian can be difficult for some. We want to help make this transition easier, by helping to release the unique skills, experience and potential into the world of entrepreneurship.”
Norway-based WiMP is bringing some innovation to their music streaming platform through the launch of WiMP DIY, allowing unsigned artists to upload their music, and take in 70% of the income. WiMP offers a more editorially focused take on a music streaming service, and with it, these unsigned artists have the possiblitly to be featured in WiMP's NewSound campaign, which highlights new, local music, or to be put in playlists next to international acts.
"We launch this offer to cover a market demand. WIMP DIY is not intended as an alternative to a conventional record deal, but as a push in that direction. WiMP wants to invite artists who do not yet have a record label supporting them, but who have got ambitions of reaching out with their music," says Sveinung Rindal, Head of Editorial at WiMP.
Co-founder Patrik Berglund claims their company might not look that sexy, but to me, disrupting prices in the absolutely massive container shipping industry is incredibly easy on the eyes. What Oslo-based Xeneta does is similar to what Glassdoor did for employee wages. They offer a price comparison service for sea freight, and yesterday announced they received €1.2 million in financing led by Creandum, with Norwegian private investment company Alden co-investing.
Berglund and one of his co-founders, Thomas Sørbø, got their start at Kuehne & Nagel, a freight company. After leaving in 2011 for shipping and logistics consulting, they realized pricing is extremely volatile, and there was really no transparency in the industry. So they set out to do for sea freight how you buy airline tickets - prices are there in front of you.
If you haven't been paying attention to The Pirate Bay in the past week or so, you're missing out on a bit of swashbuckling pirate tricks and stormy seas... you know, the normal pirate life. We'll give you a little history because we haven't covered them since Elisa, the Finnish operator, was required to block the bittorrent site, among others around a year ago. The Pirate Bay was founded in Sweden in 2003, making it a decade old now. A documentary on the history of the site has been released, called TPB AFK, and is available to be watched for free.
Well, we can follow one Opera story after another. Opera has announced 300 million active users, but the big news is that they're moving from Presto, their own rendering engine, to WebKit. With Safari, Chrome, and now Opera now using the engine, well over 40% of the internet will be displayed through Webkit. The main motivation for this move is likely cost - contributing to another engine is cheaper than maintaining and building your own.
"The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need," says CTO of Opera Software, Håkon Wium Lie.
Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reports Opera co-founder Jon S. von Tetzchner has sold shares in the company valued between NOK 180 and 200 million (€24-27 million), as shown in recently released shareholders' statements. After the sale Tetzchner has 5.18% ownership stake in Opera, which is below the 10% limit where Von Tetzchner could have blocked acquisition deals.
Dagens Næringsliv reports on the history of Von Tetzchner's relationship with the publicly traded browser company:
Oprea is an old timer in the Scandinavian digital scene, but that doesn't mean that they haven't stopped innovating. The Norwegian company has seen sizable growth on their mobile browser; they've recently revealed that more than 208 million people used the Opera Mini app in December of 2012. Due to these numbers, they're going after the growing demand for a mobile payments flow that makes sense.
To do so, yesterday Opera's payment arm partnered with Italian Neomobile to bring one-click operator billing to the Opera Payment Exchange (OPX) service.
More Scandinavian music news for today following our earlier news that Rdio is officially launching in the Nordics. Soundrop, the Norwegian social music platform made popular through their Spotify app, has brought its "listening rooms" to be embedded on Facebook.
It's a big deal for the company - they're now leveraging multiple sources for content while serving up simultaneous playback, making them less dependent on one licensing provider. Rather than Spotify serving the content, the music on Facebook is handled by VEVO and YouTube. The embedded rooms provide the same simultaneous voting, chatting, and playback experience as in the Spotify app.
With the new $2.5 million A funding series from Norway’s Alliance Venture, Investinor and Alden AS, the total amount invested into bMobilized is now at $4 million. The last investment was disclosed at $1.5 million and took place in April this year.
bMobilized has been around for more than two years and offers a cloud-based do-it-yourself technology to easily convert any website into a fully functional HTML5-enabled site. They even claim that the mobile site will have more functionality that the original.
You probably don't need numbers to tell you this, but streaming music is on the rise in Northern Europe. WiMP, Norwegian streaming music service, just published results of a survey it conducted in their current markets, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.
According to their results, Norwegians are the most likely to have access to a streaming service at 61%, while 56% say they do in Sweden, 35% in Denmark, and 16% in Germany.
Oslo is struggling to make a name for itself for its startup scene, but a new co-working space opened its doors in April that aims to become the nexus of the startup community. Located in downtown Oslo, MESH is a huge co-working and event space that has already started providing the networks, orgnaization, and services needed for the startup community to prosper.
The two founders of MESH, Audun Ueland and Anders Mjåset have an entrepreneurial background themselves. About five years ago the two started up a recruiting company focused on engineering students which they sold to their competitors. After that they started another company that didn't take off, but then met up with someone who was looking to patent a solution to protect strollers and other items on planes. After expanding across Northern Europe they sold Pram Pack to Stokke, and used those funds to start MESH.
Throw away your televisions, Netflix is coming to town. That is at least if you're living in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, or Finland. The U.S. based streaming service offers a deep catalog of movies and TV shows for a flat monthly rate. More specific details about pricing and content will be announced closer to launch, which is slated to be be in late 2012.
You can say the same nice things about Netflix that you can also say about Spotify. Almost all the content you're looking for is just sitting there in front of you, so you don't even need to open up your torrent client to "borrow" it off the internet. In addition, Netflix supports devices such as PCs, Macs, Smart TVs, game consoles, Blu-ray disc players, smartphones and tablets.
Earlier this week iZettle sent out e-mails to their users in Denmark, Finland and Norway that Visa Europe has cancelled their contract in those countries. Since then iZettle has been working on restoring the status of that contract so that it could continue to accept payments with Visa cards in those countries. The story has multiple weird twists, such as why hasn't Visa Europe cancelled the contract in Sweden which is iZettle's home market?
On Monday's blog post iZettle has not commented on the specifics of the agreement and why Visa Europe decided to cancel it. Since then we have learned that it has to do with Visa Europe's policies regarding security standards. Then again, this is where the story gets harder to understand.
Stay.com, the Norway based travel startup has come out with a new version of its travel app. Last October we had a detailed write up of the company and how it became to be. For this summer, the company has made its city guides social and user friendly with making them work offline. The applications work on Android and the iOS platforms.
The app features some 116 cities which users are able to download to their phones with a simple tap. Each city guide has numerous sites to visit, restaurants to eat at and places to go. Also, not to mention an offline map that works with the iPhone's positioning system showing how lost you might be. Going offline with the city guides helps with the horrendous data roaming costs one can churn overseas.
For the better or the worse, the Norwegian startup scene finally has some heat. Although TechCrunch’s harsh take on Norway’s startup state sparked some longed for discussion (or lack thereof), the picture painted needs to be nuanced.
Nevermind the research
Mike Butcher compares the ones of Spotify, Rovio, Tradeshift, and Everbread to the lack of evidence of successful startups from Norway, even pondering upon Opera as a half-fledged success. The arguments are as half the truth as pointing at two startups, Bipper and Wonderloop as examples of the opposite.
bMobilized, the Norwegian-originated creator of a mobile website conversion solution for small and medium sized businesses, has raised $1.5 million (€1.15 million) in series A financing. The round was financed by two European early-stage investors, Alliance Ventures and Investinor. After being founded in 2005 bMobilized moved operations from Oslo to New York City in 2010, where it now has 14 employees.
The company's technology automatically reproduces a website's look and feel on a mobile device, while also claiming to add more functionality than what other mobile conversion tool can offer. The conversion into HTML5 is customizable, and can translate the mobile website into any of seven language. Mobile features like a contact bar, maps, social sharing buttons, product promo window on home page, and other features can also be easily added in.
Editor's note: This post is part of a series of posts published in co-operation with Elance, the leading source of outsourcing talent in the world.
One of the biggest challenges in scaling a startup to the next level is in finding the right talent and help with both those small, everyday things as well as larger projects. Even though the Nordics and Baltics enjoy a more moderate salary level and better chances at retaining talented individuals than the US, there never seems to be enough good people around. However, one area that has been overlooked by many is the possibility to outsource tasks here and there to the human cloud, as Elance puts it.
Visma has acquired Agda, a Swedish software company specializing in solutions for Human Resource Management (HRM) and Payroll. Agda has become a large player in the payroll market in Sweden, generating approximately 525,000 pay-slips on a monthly basis corresponding to 25% market share. Visma already provides payroll software, and with the acquisition Visma will now generate 2.3 million pay slips each month, becoming the payroll market leader in the private market of Sweden.
The 11th edition of The Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World was released by the World Economic Forum with a special focus on the transformational impacts of ICT on the economy and society. The Nordic countries rang in high on the list, withs Sweden ranking first, followed by Singapore and Finland. Denmark came in as fourth on the list, while Norway placed seventh-- one place higher than the United States. The report assessed 142 world economies to assess the impact of ICT on the competitiveness and well-being of the nation.
The ridesharing options in the Nordic countries are few and far between, and the available options don't leave users with much access when unteathered from a computer. Ants is a mobile-based ridesharing service inspired by Foursquare and Instagram, and is free to use. The service allows users to search and offer rides, give feedback, follow favorite drivers, and instantly share details on Facebook and Twitter. Payment for the ride is independently settled between the riders.
iZettle has announced that they will begin their Nordic launch tomorrow, and will be releasing 5000 devices in Denmark, Norway, and Finland, each, for beta testing. If you haven't seen our previous coverage, iZettle’s iPhone and iPad app lets anyone take credit or debit card payments on the go, with or without iZettle’s chip-card reader.
The company offers a service similar to the US-based competitor, Square, although Square is built for magnetic strip cards and plugs into the headphone jack. The device has already been beta testing in Sweden since November, a month after the company raised €8.2M in venture funding. We've already gotten our hands on the device, and will be releasing a more detailed review later this week.
The whitelabel media streaming service, Aspiro, has signed a deal with Google's Widevine DRM for studio approved DRM-solutions for Video OTT-services. The Norwegian company runs the music streaming service WiMP, as well as provide TV and music streaming services for partners who wish to put their own branding on a streaming service. This new deal will allow Aspiro's partners, which include Hi3G, Telnor, Netcom, and Deutsche Telecom, to easily stream protected movies and TV shows to nearly any device. This comes as good news for media companies, as it seems the streaming services are used mostly for sports broadcasts.
Following the company's €2.2 million investment from Industrifonden and angel-investors last year, Sweden-based Burt is expanding to Norway, as part of their expansion program. The company produces tools to help advertisers and agencies improve the efficiency and effect of their online campaigns, which we covered last June. Their main product, Rich, distinguishes itself by focusing on the media industry and offering analytics that form a more complete overview of the environment in which their ads are being displayed. As a result ad-buyers can compare online performance of their ads with broadcast and print advertising and media agencies get a greater control over ads, their vital revenue source.
A market survey conducted by Norstat for the WiMP music streaming service shows that roughly 3 out of 10 Norwegians and Swedes have listened to music by streaming in the week before the questioning took place. The survey was collected in January of 2012. In Norway, this proportion increased 20 to 29 percent from June of the past year, while Sweden saw a jump of 27 to 29 percent, showing the early saturation of the market. Danish users are behind the times, with a jump from 14 to a current 20%. This low penetration can likely be explained by Spotify only launching in Denmark in October.