Circuses and innovation have more in common than you thought

The Innovation days have become an annual event at NTNU, and this year the rich innovation environment was reflected in a circus themed event. Popcorn, cotton candy, slush and a mechanical bull were all present in Gruva at NTNU on 22-23. August to show the playful and spontaneous side of the innovation and entrepreneurial environment that flourishes in Trondheim.

By Pernille Svartveit Osmundsen

With Andreas Hjertaker, leader, and Espen Hegdal, deputy leader, at the helm, FRAM has organised two days of stands and workshops that have attracted many students to peak in on what the innovation environment has to offer. FRAM NTNU is referred to as the innovation house in Trondheim and all organisations involved in innovation and entrepreneurship at NTNU are organised under FRAM.

Espen Hegdal, deputy leader (left) and Andreas Hjertaker, leader (right) of the student organisation FRAM was very satisfied with the event.

Hegdal says they want all students in Trondheim to get to know the entire innovation environment. Both Hegdal and Hjertaker talk about long and busy days before the start of the event, at the same time it has been a lot of fun and they are very satisfied with the event. The two of them have volunteered for several organisations under FRAM and say they do it because they get so much in return. The feeling of getting something back for the effort you put in is part of what they hope people takes with them from these two days. Hjertaker says the aim is to arouse engagement and joy and refers to FRAM’s core values; Play, share, create.

When it comes to the circus theme, it was selected based on how playful FRAM experiences the innovation environment. There is a lot of exciting stuff going on and many committed people around you who love to innovate, Hegdal says. This made them want to create a playful arena where people feel they are entering a circus. He says this is how it should feel when you are in the innovation environment as well.

Hegdal hopes this event will emerge all the activity and the close cooperation there is among the organisations in the innovation environment. FRAM works to ensure that the innovation environment feels like a community and that you can be proud to be part of it. Not only are the innovation days an opportunity for students to get to know the different organisations, it also is an opportunity for the organisations themselves to get to know each other better.

The circus themed event was well received by the participants.

Many organisations and start-ups promoted themselves during The Innovation Days, one of them being Orbit, a student organisation that designs and builds small satellites that are launched into space. Two of the students representing Orbit was Marie Eriksen Grude and Tim Matras. They say they encounter engaged students who are passionate about new and upcoming projects. Grude says the Innovation Days are a great opportunity to both show off within the student community and recruit new members. Orbit is keen to develop and get a hold of new talented people, and The Innovation Days are a great place to meet committed students with an interest in new companies.

Orbit has participated both days and says they have had many fine people come by. They talk about committed students and are pleased they have met so many people who are interested in something as specific as building satellites. They brag about the event and are confident it will tempt new qualified applicants, like it did last year.

The Innovation Days was an opportunity for many student organisations to promote themselves to students and others interested in innovation.

The circus theme was not only well received by the organisations, it turns out it was also a good sales trick to get brand new students to visit Gruva. Two of the students who made the trip to The Innovation Days were Othilie Lunsæter and Mathilde Mikland Ekeberg. The two of them are both in their first year at Mechanical Engineering and were just on their way to a lecture when they saw there was slush coming from Gruva. They thought it was interesting to see all the organisations at the event and inspiring to hear about different start-ups and their achievements.

It wasn’t just students and student organisations present at The Innovation Days, established companies such as SpareBank 1 attended as well. Bente Birkestøl and Solveig Eidsvik Tvedt, who work for SpareBank 1, says they try to be close to the student environment and the innovation environment. They want to show that they have expertise in business development and follow the trends and visions of the future the students are interested in. Birkestøl says there can often be quite a distance between the bank and the student environment, and when they work with the innovation environment, it is important for them to be in the arena where ideas begin to take shape early on.

Several companies were also present at the event to show they are part of the innovation environment and understand what is important to the students.

Students from many different directions has attended these two days, which Tvedt and Birkestøl think is very positive. The two brag about the event and the concept FRAM went with and Birkestøl emphasizes that the success of the event probably has to do with the fact that it is an event by students for students.

Birkestøl says there are many people who are curious about the link between banking and the student environment. There were also many who pitched their ideas and several who asked for advice on how they could start up and how SpareBank 1 could contribute to that. Tvedt emphasizes that SpareBank1 not only provides normal banking services, but also advice and help to start a start-up. It is important for us to let them know we are in Trondheim and it is possible to come down to our office and get advice on ideas, budgeting, accounting, and costs, Birkestøl says.

SpareBank 1 are not newcomers to The Innovation Days and it has been important for them to attend an event like this one to get a sense of what is happening and understand what the students are concerned with. Tvedt says innovation has never been more important considering everything we are facing with climate, war, and crises from all sides. She says it’s extremely important that people want to try fixing everything we face. Birkestøl explains the importance of them leaning a little forward to see what’s around the corner and says they sometimes find potential partners among the students involved in innovation at NTNU.

The Innovation Days concluded the circus event with two well-executed days where Gruva showed itself from its best side, alongside what the innovation environment has to offer. The leaders of FRAM, Hjertaker and Hegdal, emphasizes that if anyone wants to do something a little more out of the ordinary, Gruva is the place to start. And they hope people see that when they get there, they will be met by lots of energy and be introduced to talented and engaged people.