In 2014 the mentoring organization for student start-ups, Spark*, was established in Trondheim Norway. This year the organization has taken major leaps into new areas.
Spark* NTNU was established as an organization in 2014, with the goal to help students who have a business idea. The difference between other organizations at NTNU aiming at helping Start-ups, was that this was fully organized by students. This was one of the first organizations providing student-to-student mentoring in how to establish and run a business as a student. Throughout the years, many successful start-up companies has evolved from this organization, such as Gobi, Tise, Ludenso and many many others. In total, there has been over 400 start-up ideas being mentored by Spark* in the last 5 years, consisting of over 1500 students.
When Spark* became a partner in Engage in 2016 one of the main goals was to establish Spark* as an organization in other parts of Norway. This was mainly Ålesund, Gjøvik and Nord University as Ålesund and Gjøvik are part of NTNU and Nord University is a partner in Engage. When this task was established it took a while before the actual work started.
Expanding in the North
In the end of 2018 the work began at Nord University, Spark* Nord. Throughout the spring of 2019, the organization managed to establish the employees that could do the necessary work. This was a milestone as it proved that the structure of the organization was scalable.
In June 2019, Christian Ringstad Schultz, the former vice president and event-manager at Spark* NTNU, was hired to bring Spark* to new areas. “The first thing that needed to be done was to establish what is necessary when establishing a new organization. What I discovered was three parts; engaged students, employees at the university that can provide trust to the organization and a financial partner”, says Ringstad Schultz.
With these three parts in mind he began working closely with Spark* Nord to secure that they both had the employees needed to grow and the financial backing. This led to an organization that now is financially backed by Sparebank1 and has had tremendous growth in a number of start-ups from September to November.
Christian also started the work of establishing Spark* in more areas as he had researched the need in other areas. “Early on we found out that Gjøvik was a little too small at the moment so we focused on Ålesund. Here we found a person that had the drive to pull the organization through. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned so Ålesund is back to scratch”, Schultz continues. Even though things didn’t go as planned, the organization has grown bigger than ever. In the last two months both Chalmers in Gothenburg and USN in Bø has started the planning on how they can establish Spark*. Here, the foundation of students is good. They have employees willing to work with the organization and they have potential financial backing.
“What’s really interesting and engaging about this is that both of these places has contacted us. They are willing to put the work down and there is a demand for such an organization in both these places. Another area we are establishing Spark* at the moment is Mo i Rana, which will be a division of Spark* Nord. This has never been done before, but if proven successful, it can be a great way to establish smaller organizations in smaller areas without the need of an administrative center in each area”, Schultz explains.
He also adds that he works a lot with communication between the different areas as each of them have valuable experience that needs to be shared.
“If we manage to provide tools for the organizations to communicate with each other they can do mentoring together, share courses and in general make every organization much better. This is something that will be valuable and something that we have in mind when establishing new organizations”Christian Ringstad Schultz
The future of Spark* will be interesting, and hopefully, we will see a lot of great start-ups emerging from all the different areas were Spark* is present.
Are you eager to learn more about the work that Spark* does? Please send an e-mail to project coordinator Christian Ringstad Schultz at Christian@sparkntnu.no