Nine start-ups at NTNU receive STUD-ENT

Every year the Norwegian Government, through the Norwegian Research Council (NRC), hand out grants of 1 million NOK each.

Erik Klevar

Every year the Norwegian Government, through the Norwegian Research Council (NRC), hand out grants of 1 million NOK each. The benefitting parties are start-ups run by graduating students who have achieved progress and need more funding to take their projects to the next level. This year there were 42 applicants, and 20 million NOK was granted to 20 teams of hopefuls. Close to half were students at NTNU.

– More of the entrepreneurial mentality will help Norway through the restructuring we know we are going through. STUD-ENT is strengthening the entrepreneurship culture at the universities and colleges. The climate crisis and the corona crisis actualizes this more than ever. I think it is inspiring and exciting to see the next generation think big, Minister of Industry Iselin Nybø said in a press release.


NRC contributes to helping startups in critical phases of their conception. When students graduate from NTNU or other universities and colleges, the students are effectively full-time employees in their start-ups and more often than not without a steady income. For entrepreneurs in this position, it is therefore essential to have funding to pay expenses and invest where it is necessary to create a sustainable business.

Together with other grants like NTNU Discovery and grants from Innovation Norway, the grant system in Norway covers many aspects that are important for today’s startups. Technology development, payroll, strategizing, marketing, and testing are all things that our hopefuls must consider. Some grants, like NTNU Discovery, focus primarily on technology development, and in order to cover other sides of what makes a business go around, soft funding from different sources is essential for today’s student driven start-ups.

– STUD-ENT enables students with the most promising ideas to continue working with their venture full time after graduation. Starting a new company involves a lot of risks and it is difficult to get financial support in this early phase. STUD-ENT gives the students some more time to work with their venture and increases the probability of creating a successful venture. I am thrilled that so many of our being able to get this support. I think the main reason that many of our students get Stud-ent is hard work and the unique sharing culture at NSE. Previous students at NSE that have received STUD-ENT help and push today’s student. This enables knowledge sharing and creates a culture that foster success, NSE lecturer Even Haug Larsen could tell Engage.

Engage plays a key part in the ecosystem

Engage partners NTNU School of Entrepreneurship (NSE) and Spark* NTNU are sure to be very proud of their achievements this last year. Eight of the nine start-ups that are connected to NTNU are current and former users of Spark* NTNUs services.

NSE is usually well represented and this year 7 out of the 20 million ended up with the school. As Larsen stated, the reason for this could be the unique culture at NSE and the hard work the students put into their ventures. 5th-year students Marcus Nickelsen and Vidar Melstveit, together with 4th-year student Henning Seeberg, are the minds behind Njord Robotics. Together they are creating the world’s first autonomous washing robots for use in land-based fish farming.

Henning, Marcus and Vidar
Henning, Marcus and Vidar

– We are of course very happy to receive the grant from the Norwegian Research Council. The funding will ensure our operations and our progress for the next year and help us with the next step to commercialize. We want to use the money on development and prototyping and some of it will also go to salaries and office spaces, COO Marcus Nickelsen said to Engage.

Start-ups receiving funding from Forskningsrådet

  • Rubato Booking – Digital booking platform connecting artists and music event organizers (NSE)
  • SlideDrain AS – Innovative drains for an easy, quick and safe installation (NSE)
  • Ocean Access – Autonomous communication system for remote offshore monitoring (NSE)
  • Metaito AS – Factsplat: A customizable intranet for effective navigation of digital tools and services
  • WAID: Rapid preparedness and delegate sharing in humanitarian aid organisations (NSE)
  • Snowroller AS – Commercialization of a complete circular business model (CCBM) for the fashion industry (NSE)
  • Njord Robotics: Autonomous Cleaning Drones for Land-based Fish Farming (NSE)
  • Ntention AS – Modular gesture recognition system for customizable Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in AR/VR applications (NSE)
  • Polysense – measuring biomarkers in breath