Norwegian Americans are always here for us,” said Svein-Egil Nielsen, Director of Innovation Norway (IN) in San Francisco, California. “When we start a new project, one of the first things we do is to look for Norwegian Americans in the target organization. They will always assist us.”
“Our priority areas on the West Coast are information technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, and energy. Innovation Norway’s field office in San Francisco, is Norway’s eyes and ears into this vibrant field where relentless innovation and maintaining a technological edge are keys to success,” said Nielsen.
Within these areas, IN concentrates on promoting clean technology and life sciences such as biotech and medtech. “In addition, IN encourages entrepreneurship across industry segments,” said Nielsen. “A one-segment approach does not work here, you need to fan out.”
Nielsen is full of praise for the assistance Innovation Norway receives from Norwegian Americans working in the prioritized areas. “It is always very helpful to get assistance from Norwegians or others affiliated with Norway. Currently we have 3-4 projects where we have engaged contacts in the community to help us out and this help is invaluable,” said Nielsen.
California has more than 400,000 Norwegian Americans, and many Norwegian-American organizations. “The Norwegian Club of San Francisco is a great place to find assistance for networking, as is the Norwegian Fish Club. We also work closely with the Silicon Vikings – a Nordic group of professionals in Silicon Valley,”said Nielsen.
The successful Nordic Green conference that took place in Silicon Valley in April 2008, was initiated by the Silicon Vikings. It fostered collaboration within the Nordic countries, and the conference Nordic Green II is scheduled to take place in Silicon Valley on April 27 and 28, 2010. Innovation Norway’s e-learning network REN has for many years collaborated with a Norwegian American at SRI International in Menlo Park.
California prides itself on its lead in the fields of technology and business innovation, and the high quality educational institutions in the area are instrumental in driving research. “In seeks to build strong relationships with the top universities. They are very important to business development. Our two key partners in the area are University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University. We collaborate with UC Berkeley on a Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship-program named grunderskolen – they are our local academic partner – as well as on other projects,” Nielsen said. At Stanford, IN is a co-sponsor of the “European Entrepreneurship & Innovation through Leaders Program”
We appreciate the advice from many Norwegians within the venture capital community in Silicon Valley, who are always eager to meet with Norwegian companies seeking funding, or to give presentations at a seminars or conferences,“ he said.
Even in the current economic downturn there is potential for partnerships and growth. Innovation Norway by partnering with Norwegian Americans on the West Coast, IN can more effectively support Norwegian companies and businesses attain that growth.