In accordance with plans to gradually reopen the country, Norway is relaxing restrictions on public mobility. However, while Norway was in many regards well-positioned prior to the crisis, economic recovery and return to daily life will demand a new phase of the response to Covid-19. In this article at NordicBaltic.Tech, a partnership between PUBLIC Denmark and the Nordic Council of Ministers, we explore the startup ecosystem’s previous, ongoing and future efforts to combat Covid-19.
Urgent mobilisation by municipalities and startups
At the onset of the crisis, Norwegian municipalities and communities mobilised quickly by implementing digital tools for tracking the spread of the virus, enabling video calls with GPs and facilitating online teaching. Meanwhile, the Norwegian startup ecosystem, equipped with vast technical experience, assembled to develop unique solutions to urgent issues. Mirroring the success of other countries, Norway’s Hack the Crisis brought together 336 teams working on a total of 219 different ideas. Coming in 1st place under ‘Save Lives’, the volunteers behind makersmotcovid (Makers Against Covid19) contribute 3D-printed protective equipment to healthcare professionals across the country. Check out the full list of winning ideas and initiatives here.
Towards long-term modernisation of Norway
Parallel to combating the spread of Covid-19, Norwegian startups such as Motitech and No Isolation are at the forefront of securing the overall well-being of Norwegian citizens as they, for the foreseeable future, continue to practice social distancing and / or quarantine. When it comes to communication, the urgent adoption of technology has enabled virtual meetings, remote education and digital care that will serve citizens far beyond the crisis. Increased pressure on the national broadband infrastructure demonstrates the necessity of broadband expansion, and 406 million NOK have been distributed to areas that are not commercially viable.
The economic setback and maintaining support for innovation
While Norwegian businesses may benefit from high-capacity broadband, the pressing issue of financing poses a risk to continued innovation. To fuel the funding for existing and emerging technologies, the Norwegian government created a crisis package for startups and SMEs. Innovation Norway has amplified such efforts by changing terms of existing schemes and increasing access to grants, including the Extraordinary Innovation Grant. Other measures include a healthcare collaboration designed to connect Norwegian HealthTech companies with Hospital Procurement (HF).
Assessment of technology: meeting needs and protecting rights
Norway’s Minister for Local Government and Modernisation, Nikolai Astrup, reflects on the process of modernization prompted by the Norwegian response to Covid-19 (read our interview with the Minister here). The implemented solutions draw attention not only to the needs of citizens, but to fundamental rights, including access to key municipal services and ability to follow public proceedings. This dual requirement sets high expectations for the collaboration between the public and private sector, but the Norwegian response illustrates the value of connecting citizens with innovative technologies.