Startup Norway: "we connect all actors in the startup ecosystem"

How startups, companies can collaborate with public authorities and how the Romanian entrepreneurial ecosystem is seen from Norway, a European country well known for the support it has been offering for at least a decade through the grant program, aimed at helping sustainable development of business? Janna Goncharova, Head of Scale Up Studio at Startup Norway and Sean Jayven Ramiro Aguinaldo, Partnerships & Program Manager Startup Norway, gave us answers.
Published on
April 5, 2024

Full article can be found HERE. Written by: Oana Cosman

Startup Norway joined as a partner of the 2023 edition of the StepFWD program , an accelerator intended for startups with diverse teams from our country, putting the knowledge accumulated in over a decade of the organization's existence at the service of founders in Romania.

"Startup Norway's mission is to help Norway become one of the leading startup ecosystems globally by connecting and helping all parties involved in the development of technological innovation. We are an independent organization and function as a connector and educator for startups, scale-ups, private and institutional investors, corporations and public authorities. In essence, we connect all the actors who aim to develop the startup ecosystem", Janna Goncharova , Head of Scale Up Studio at Startup Norway, told us.

The need for a global vision from day one

In his view, it is absolutely crucial that startups, companies have a global development perspective and consider international expansion from the first day of business operation.

"We know that Norway is a relatively small market, that's why we, the Startup Norway team, have taken it upon ourselves from the beginning to help startups gain international recognition, not just local recognition, as companies like Remarkable or Kahoot", declares Janna Goncharova.

Startup Norway's programs for founders and investors include Fundraising for Startups, Angel Challenge, Scale Up Studio, all tailored to where startups, companies or investment people are in terms of development the business.

"International connections, which we have with programs such as the example of StepFWD , which have the potential to bring together international startup ecosystems, are also one of our areas of interest," said the representative of Startup Norway.

Startup Norway, workshops with StepFWD

In March, Startup Norway specialists will hold a series of workshops aimed at perfecting Romanian angel investors, but also to provide information to future private investors from our country.

"The workshop provides practical information and includes direct interactions with the founders. Our hope is that private investors in Romania will come to have a level of investment discipline similar to that of Venture Capital firms, learn how to build a diversified portfolio and how to get involved in the teams they support financially and as mentors", adds Janna Goncharova.

The workshops will be free and are carried out with the support of Startup Norway and the participants will benefit from trainings from Startup Norway specialists.

The workshops will take place in a hybrid format - March 11, 2024 online, March 13 (physical) in Bucharest and March 15 (physical) in Cluj Napoca and are addressed both to those who already have experience in Angel Investment and to those who are just interested in field and want to learn more, helping them gain the knowledge they need to become successful Angel Investors.

The Romanian ecosystem of startups? Dynamic but still young

How does the Romanian startup ecosystem look specifically from Norway?

Dynamic and innovative, as the representative of Startup Norway tells us, "with a series of very successful stories, such as that of UiPath, which has become a global leader in the field of RPA, and that of Bitdefender, a unicorn in the field of cyber security. These stories very well exemplify the potential that Romania has to create technology with a global impact", says Janna Goncharova.

However, the startup ecosystem in Romania is also perceived as quite young, which needs more early-stage financing, i.e. in the first stages of development of startups, as well as a "culture of mentoring and more many international collaborations that can help Romanian startups to scale globally", in his view.

This is also one of the reasons behind the partnership between Startup Norway and the StepFWD acceleration program team. "We share the same values ​​regarding the collaboration between all the actors involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem", says, for his part, Sean Jayven Ramiro Aguinaldo , Partnerships & Program Manager at Startup Norway.

"Together with StepFWD, we will deliver an intensive training program focused on the topic of raising early funding by early-stage startups, in which we will address various topics, from setting investment expectations, to key figures to track, to methodologies of evaluation. In addition, we will offer mentoring sessions,” he mentions.

The opportunities for collaboration between the public and private environment

In addition to Startup Norway, another easily recognizable name in the Romanian entrepreneurial landscape is that of Innovation Norway , an example of collaboration between the private sector and the state authorities for the development of the business ecosystem both in Norway and at the European and even global level.

We also have in the country a series of examples of collaborations between the public environment and the private sector, which help the development of Romanian entrepreneurs. Such as Make IT in Oradea or RubikHub , from Piatra Neamț.

We wanted to find out details about the example of Norway and how the public and private environment can work together more, so that, in the end, the economy of a country can develop, not be limited by administrative obstacles.

"Collaboration between public authorities and the private sector can be a very good model to raise innovation and create new jobs because it can bring together the strengths of both parties involved, all with the aim of supporting economic growth", is Janna Goncharova's opinion.

The representative of Startup Norway states that public authorities can provide help through funding, by stimulating research and development, through tenders in which smaller companies can also get involved.

On the other hand, the private sector brings to the table the agility, innovation and capital needed for much larger follow-on investments.

"Innovation Norway is a very good example because it offers grants and loans to startups, allowing them to continue market research, sell their products and services. At the same time, it facilitates connections with global markets, with ecosystems such as Silicon Valley or with other European hubs. These kinds of initiatives are crucial to helping startup founders navigate the riskiest stages of business development. And once they mature, these companies contribute, in turn, to the economic growth of the country", concludes Janna Goncharova.

Companies referred IN ARTICLE: 
Innovation Norway
Innovation Norway helps Norwegian companies to grow sustainably and increase exports by providing access to competence, capital and networks