For the third consecutive year, we had the privilege of hosting the NTNU Student Investor Day. Thanks to our collaboration with Sparebank 1 SMN, StartupTRD, and 6AM Accelerator, we successfully organized an event where the future of Norwegian innovation had the unique opportunity to connect with investors and gain valuable insights. This event not only provided startups with the opportunity to compete for prize money but also served as a platform to initiate early-stage dialogues with investors, giving them a crucial stepping stone to raise the capital necessary for building a sustainable business.
By Pernille Svartveit Osmundsen
Out of 19 applicants, 10 startups were selected to attend the event, where they pitched their business ideas and participated in an intense speed-dating round with a selection of Norway’s foremost early-phase investors. Among the investors who evaluated the startups were well-known names such as “Bring Ventures” and “Equinor Venture”, as well as new investment funds like “GNIST Capital”.
6AM Accelerator, co-host of the event, also offered participation in their accelerator program to one of the startups. Marcus Nickelsen from 6AM explains that they observe many encountering similar problems in the early stages of business development, such as financing strategy, sales, legal issues, and raising capital. Therefore, 6AM created a program that provides startups with expertise in these areas and introduces them to their network of investors, partners, and customers. Nickelsen mentions that choosing a winner was a bit difficult. Their assessments focused on the team, their potential, and the social impact they could have, which is important for the world. NAYA, which offers human labeling of high-quality training data for customers developing machine learning models, won the opportunity to participate in the accelerator program. Nickelsen explains that the timing, along with early customer validation, made them a good fit within the scope where 6AM can deliver the most value to a startup.
Mille Isaksen, NAYA’s Business Strategist, highlights their need for guidance in developing the technical aspects of their product. They are looking forward to receiving guidance from 6AM to further develop NAYA’s platform, delivering the specialized labeling services they offer.
Kelpinor, which has developed a method for harvesting and launching kelp, enabling economies of scale, won the award of NOK 100.000 for “Best Business Concept”. NTNU Discovery’s main project grant of NOK 300.000 was awarded to Røynd, which develops advanced movement platforms for the professional market, e-sports, and competitions. Arctic Protein, which utilizes insects to convert waste into valuable resources, also managed to win the “Sustainability Award” along with NOK 50.000. CEO Eirik Kristoffer Myking explains that they did not expect to receive the sustainability award after leaving the jury’s room. He adds that receiving the award made them happy and relieved, and being part of a day like this was important for Arctic Protein. CPO, Jens Nygaard, emphasizes the significant amount of equipment and funds required to start production, and the money will contribute to that. Additionally, the relationships they built during the day will be of great value in the years to come.
The event was not only meaningful and positive for the startups but also received praise from attendees. Anders Ganes from Boitano and Kristian Næss from Arkwright X spoke highly of the event, mentioning that great ideas and exciting entrepreneurs with lots of potential came forward. Ganes thinks it is positive that investors are engaged with student organizations and startups from an early stage. Nickelsen from 6AM, who is both a sponsor and a previous awardee, says he can be a bit biased. Nevertheless, he highlights his involvement for a few years, including his connection with the innovation environment through the NTNU School of Entrepreneurship and his previous role as a manager at Spark. He adds that today’s event showcased perhaps the best collection of pitches he has seen at NTNU since he started.
In addition to these prizes, eight promising entrepreneurs also received SpareBank 1 SMN’s talent grant worth NOK 50.000. The aim of this grant is to promote, develop, and inspire local talent to help them achieve their goals. The recipients of the talent grants were:
- Christian Hallvard Dahl Nielsen (BEV/ART)
- Daniel Hansen (Leasi)
- David Phan (Tomatosharp)
- Eirin Fossberg (NAYA)
- Henriette Einevoll Husby (Business Talk with Henriette)
- Sander Haukdal Larsen (ENVE)
- Patrick Gimmestad Emblem (XperiTech)
- Heidi Grande (Hera Solutions)
For future entrepreneurs and startups interested in applying to be part of future Student Investor Days, today’s entrepreneurs offer the following tips:
Marcus Nickelsen from 6AM believes it is important to maintain high ambition levels that are within realistic limits. If you manage to achieve something new every time you meet investors, there is a high probability that things will only get better. Eirik Kristoffer Myking from Arctic Protein emphasizes that the most important thing is to believe in what you are going to do and not sell something you don’t believe in. Mille Isaksen, NAYA’s Business strategist, explains how crucial it is to highlight your achievements, be aware of what you have accomplished, and focus on that.
We are proud to offer our congratulations to the winning startups and recipients of the talent grants, and cannot wait for next year’s Student Investor Day!