The startup scene in Norway is brewing. This time around I had a chance to visit Startup Lab an incubator nestled at the University of Oslo’s Science Park and MESH Norway a co-working space. MESH is of particular interest as its a space where an investor may be able to find two alternatives; Startups and Art. The MESH co-working space is situated just a stone throw away from the National Theatre subway stop (Prime Real Estate) in what used to be an Oslo nightclub. The space itself would do any interior decorator proud as it shows off its Scandinavian Boho Chic which can simply be described as ‘Soho House meets Office space’.
Speaking with the team at MESH that show me around the split level space, I am told that the gallery next door furbishes the art which can then be changed every so often and that it is also for sale. Having a look at the prices may not give Norwegians sticker shock considering that a bottle of water at Gardermoen (the airport) costs NOK60. The availability of great contemporary Norwegian art is just one of the features that makes MESH quirky and interesting. The presence of a bar upstairs and a well attended Cafe bar on the ground floor has the place filled with energy in a town that is better known for its quiet and modest reputation.
If you are on the hunt to meet interesting entrepreneurs and startups, MESH events should be on your startup safari for Oslo. The curatorial team is great and they have quickly established themselves as one of the leading spots in Oslo for all things Startup. One Nordic entrepreneur I met, who runs a startup foundry / studio helping co-build new ventures mentioned that he was going down to MESH to meet up with the media about to do a story on the launch of a new offering the startup studio called Norselab was bringing to market. Clearly all roads seem to lead to MESH in Oslo and a seat at the location is surprisingly affordable given the cost of co-working space in London!
For a more high tech startup focused experience I would also recommend visiting the Startup Lab. Packed with startups and feeling a bit more like a ‘sit down’ Techcrunch the office space cum incubator has been a real boon to Oslo’s startup community with mentors and investors like Creandum (www.creandum.com/) and NorthZone (northzone.com/) listed as official partners. I glimpse a familiar logo for Kahoot! the Edtech heavy founded by Johan Brand (arguably Mr. Startup for Norway) and best of all an all round gentleman that I had the fortune of bumping into 2 years back on a random Norwegian Airlines flight to London. They even have their very own Founders Fund and a rock star team with great corporate and global connectivity that can clearly open doors for their portfolio companies and possibly others as I am pleasantly surprised to hear that not all based there have to be portfolio companies.
The Startup Lab seems to be have a quiet central atrium giving entrepreneurs a space to relax amongst the crazy schedules dictated by startup calendars. Look forward to hearing from readers on what they make of the spaces themselves. Begs the question whether Oslo could really handle another startup space but stumbling on to a Startup Magazine at the University and browsing through the Norwegian text (I did take a 101 course) I realise that there is a lot more afoot that what meets the eye. I look forward to discovering more next time I am around. Most of the hosts I met at all of the spaces were incredibly hospitable and its great to know that I have a space to park myself next time I am around. Tusen Takk Alle Samen (Thank you everyone!). Hope I wrote that right!