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Norwegian entrepreneurs seek international inspiration

Many Norwegians yearn for innovation, and some go abroad to learn from the big entrepreneurial players. Working and living the entrepreneurial lifestyle with the best in the game often motivates students to follow suit once they return to Norway.

One of the educational institutions for aspiring entrepreneurs is "Gründerskolen". The programme was founded in 1999 and is a coordinated programme between all the Norwegian universities and the major colleges. The programme sends participants abroad to experience and observe international entrepreneurial environments, and the goal is to establish a strong and positive innovative sector in Norway as well.

"The most alluring element was the opportunity to learn and work side-by-side with the best, and also getting the chance to live in the entrepreneurial Mecca of Silicon Valley," explains Adil Osmani who participated in the "Gründerskolen" programme in 2005. Today he has founded and runs several companies, and together with his partner Sigbjørn Rivelsrud they have been drawn towards the new and unknown since their youth. Much has changed since their first company was sketched out on a napkin, and they give "Gründerskolen" much of the credit for their zeal.  

"Through our stay we gained both inspiration and enthusiasm, and we are in an even stronger position to build our own company that can create values and jobs," Osmani and Rivelsrud said.

Since Gründerskolen started in 1999, the pool of applicants has steadily risen and the participants can go on three-month stays to among other places Singapore, Boston and Johannesburg. The students are also given preparation courses and follow-up sessions once they return. Osmani and Rivelsrud believe the combination of academics and hands-on experience is a good way to get Norwegian entrepreneurs noticed on an international scale.

"In Norway there is not enough focus on finding the right people, but rather on finding the good ideas. To create good entrepreneurs through improved education like 'Gründerskolen' is extremely important to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in Norway, and to be able to make an international impact," Osmani and Rivelsrud explain.

According to Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, Norway is among the top entrepreneurial countries in Europe, and in the past five years the amount of sole proprietorships has increased by 100.000. Though many fail quickly, aspirations run high and more industrial groups keep entering the entrepreneurial business form. 

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Sigbjørn Rivelsrud and Adil Osmani have both participated in the "Gründerskolen" programme and have since started several companies.Photo: private