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February-April 2019

Oslo: A hub for the social startup scene

There’s a commonly used phrase among tech entrepreneurs in Oslo at the moment: “I want to save the world, but get rich while trying.” For all of Silicon Valley’s innovation, ASEAN’s manufacturing prowess, or central Europe’s socially driven legislation, it is Scandinavia that arguably encapsulates all three of these strands most effectively – Norway’s capital in particular stands out as one of the world’s foremost hubs for tech-based, but socially motivated, startups. Through speaking with some of the city’s leading lights across this “startups for good” revolution, it seems more than a conscious self-positioning. Rather, it’s a natural alignment of commercial opportunity, cultural readiness and social values that is being capitalised on. “When you go through a financial crisis and an oil price crash in the same decade, it inevitably changes investment patterns, and business outlooks,” says Sten Kirkbak, chief marketing officer at XPLORA, a wearable technology platform that was initially set up so parents could locate or ...

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