NEW PROFILE: Head of Communication & Visualization at Smart Innovation Norway, Mette Magnussen, presents the company’s history before revealing the brand new logo to the employees. (Photographer: Mari Kristine Buckholm)

The Norwegian company has grown from a local start-up to an established national and international innovational actor within smart energy, smart communities and new technology.

By Mari Kristine Buckholm, August 23rd 2017

“We are very good at what we do”

Smart Innovation Norway on the fast track:

About Smart Innovation Norway

  • Established in 2003
  • More than 30 employees
  • Main activities: Reserach, innovation and business development
  • Three focus areas: Smart Energy, Smart Cities & Communities, and Digitalization
  • Manages the cluster NCE Smart Energy Markets

About NCE Smart Energy Markets

  • A 10-year development project with the purpose of conducing economic growth using research-based innovation
  • The cluster has over 70 members (companies, academia and public actors)
  • The goal is to be world-leading in the field of smart energy markets and digital technologies
  • One of the 14 clusters with Norwegian Centres of Expertise (NCE) status in Norway

Smart Innovation Norway has been in for quite a ride so far – and it does not seem to end any time soon. In only two years, the number of employees has gone from 9 to 33.

“We have won several EU projects over the last few years, and this is mainly because we are very good at what we do. We work closely with extremely competent partners and get results which create value in society”, says Mette Magnussen, Head of Communication & Visualization at Smart Innovation Norway.

Because of the rapid growth and strong position the company is about to establish internationally, Smart Innovation Norway is now in the middle of a rebranding process.

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New profile

The company has already launched a new logo and profile.

“We wanted to clarify who we are as a company, as well as call attention to our role in the cluster and the projects we take part in”, explains Magnussen.

Smart Innovation Norway manages the cluster NCE Smart Energy Markets, which gained status as a Norwegian Centre of Expertise (NCE) in 2009.

Over the years, the difference between Smart Innovation Norway as a company and the cluster has somewhat faded. This difference is exactly what the company wishes to point out with its brand-new makeover.

“We go from being a so-called ‘House of Brands’, with a lot of different brands, to becoming a ‘Branded House’, where we cultivate Smart Innovation Norway as the main brand. Our status as an NCE is still important, and we will use NCE Smart Energy Markets as a supporting element, a quality stamp, next to our main brand”, says Magnussen.

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From Halden to Europe

Smart Innovation Norway is a non-profit company and was established in 2003, under the name Inkubator Halden. The objective was to encourage and promote industrial growth.

“We still do that, and along the way we have achieved NCE status and expanded our field of expertise”, she points out. The company’s three focus areas are defined as smart energy solutions, smart cities and communities and digital innovation and sustainability.

In 2013, the company changed its name to Smart Innovation Østfold, and in 2016, it was changed again – into Smart Innovation Norway.

The name changes are a result of the journey the company has had from being a regional actor to becoming an international actor within research-based business development.

“It is our research within smart energy that has really made things happen. Our cluster network is leading within new technology, and this competence can be transferred to other sectors and businesses to create new solutions”, explains Magnussen.

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Provident research

The company’s progress has accelerated immensely in just a couple of years, and today Smart Innovation Norway contributes to several large international projects.

“We have attained the best competence to apply for funding, write proposals, and win new EU projects. In addition, the cluster challenges the market by introducing new technology early on. Several of our partners burst boundaries; they do things no-one else has done before, says Magnussen.

A lot of this is done while working on the many projects that Smart Innovation Norway coordinates. Throughout the lifespan of a project, the partners exploit and profit from each other’s competencies while testing and validating new technologies and products in the market. The result is rapid growth, and solutions that have great value and are of actual use to the end-user.

“That is why we, as both company and cluster, are described as innovative and provident. Our partners dare to test their solutions in an ever-changing society”, explains Magnussen.

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The key to success

Today, Smart Innovation Norway consists of five business areas (or departments). These are NCE Smart Energy Markets, Research & Innovation, Design Thinking & Visualization, Smart Incubator, and Smart Cities & Communities.

“The cluster represents our competence. Our Research and Innovation department finds the right partners to work together in our projects, while our Smart Incubator department hatches new ideas and attracts start-up entrepreneurs to create growth”.

“At the same time, our Smart Cities and Communities work as test subject arenas for our projects, where the citizens are involved from beginning to end. And last, but not least, we use Design Thinking and Visualization to develop prototypes, and our spectacular Simulation Centre works as a lab for this”, Magnussen describes.

She explains that each department has a specific role in the company machinery. Together, they create business development and growth. The interplay between the five business areas is also known as Smart Innovation Norway’s innovation platform.

“It is our greatest advantage and forms the foundation of our success. The platform ensures interdisciplinary and simultaneous interaction, which creates efficiency, new values, economic growth and societal impact”.