NTNU School of Entrepreneurship has been giving superpowers to students for 20 years

Culture, commitment, drive and self-confidenc. These were just some of the words used to describe NTNU School of Entrepreneurship (NSE). A full 20 years have passed since the master’s program was started in the attic of the main building at NTNU. Today, the entrepreneurial community in Trondheim is bigger than ever and continues to grow every year. 22-23. of September this was celebrated together with new and old entrepreneurs from NTNU.

By Pernille Svartveit Osmundsen

The days were celebrated with speeches, workshops, annual acid test presentations, inspirational talks, sofa chats, food and a banquet. Former students at NSE came from all over Norway to take part in the celebration and to get even more professional input from the innovation environment that grows and grows every year. During the celebration, many focus on the fact that ES is a start-up environment that builds on sharing, both ups and downs. Where those who are involved experience a kind of excessive cheering on each other.

Øystein Widding (left) and Roger Sørheim (right), professors at NTNU School of Entrepreneurship, celebrating the 20th anniversary.

Aksel Morris Bjørnø from class 18 was one of the former students who took part in the celebration. When asked about his experience with NSE, Bjørnø refers to Øystein Widding who said that NSE gives all students superpowers, which also comes with responsibility. This was something Bjørnø himself felt after he finished his master’s degree. He goes on to say that being constantly pushed outside your comfort zone does something to you that a typical course of study wouldn’t. Silje Uhlen Maurset from class 19 says that the commitment, interest, and ability to get something done that she had before was accelerated by NSE and taken to new heights.

Current students also speak highly of NSE. Thomas Klingenberg, class 24 and Herman Jørstad, class 25, describe NSE as a growth arena with many different people who are all welcome and allowed to be themselves. The two students believe that NSE will continue to build on the culture, which Jørstad describes as one of the most important reasons why he applied for the course.

Many new and old students were present to celebrate the anniversary.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem Trondheim has to offer is getting bigger and bigger. There is a culture of sharing that has spread from NSE to other parts of Trondheim, Trøndelag and nationally. NSE ‘s Alumni Association ESAF gets bigger and bigger with each class that starts. It helps to create, maintain, and stimulate contact between previously graduated students, current students, and the academic staff at NTNU’s School of Entrepreneurship. Maurset says that this network, that grows each yare, is important and gives the students something concrete they can reach for.

NSE is a program where students put in many hours, where mistakes are necessary to succeed and where only the most committed get through to the program. The current students Klingenberg and Jørstad are sure that the tough program will be worth it and give them tools they can use later in life. While Bjørnø and Maurset talk unanimously about the mindset as the most important thing they took with them after finishing the program. Maurset says it is not given that things will be done optimally and says you have to do things yourself. What can be done better and how can it be done? Bjørnø also adds that he has brought with him the drive and passion that he felt when he was in the community with the other students. He says he always does his best and then some.

Some of the former students talked about their way forward with startups after NSE.

Change agents are often talked about in connection with the budding entrepreneurs at NSE. For Maurset, this means not assuming others will solve things, but taking responsibility yourself. Even if it can be tough or you think it needs to be taken to another level. Bjørnø also agrees with this and further explains it is someone who stands on the front line and does what needs to be done. The students also agree with this definition but takes it a little further to what difference they want to make. Klingenberg describes a change agent as someone who gives a small impact on what the future will look like. Jørstad agrees and explains further that a change agent is someone who uses some of the time you have here on earth to push a small step forward. He says there are quite a few people here on earth, but that it is quite incredible how much difference we can make, just one of us if we have passion and do the job.

NSE already has many success stories with entrepreneurs who have taken their companies to new heights after the master’s degree. Klingenberg believes that NSE will be defined by several new success stories from the outside. But what makes students proceed in the entrepreneurial environment and also with their original idea? Maurset believes that in addition to the fact that these are people who thrive in the entrepreneurial environment, you are also pushed so hard to find the right idea and test it so thoroughly at the start. One must find reasons why it should fail and perfect the idea. Klingenberg also explains that some have already weeded out those who do not have enough motivation to do this, not to mention everything you learn at NSE that prepares you for startups and entrepreneurial life. Jørstad also ads that being thrown into it right away is important and that failing gives them experiences that they take with them further.

Two days of celebration are over and going forward it looks like NSE and the entrepreneurial community in Trondheim will develop even more and aim for 20 new years.