Travelogue: WAID visit to Barcelona

By Jonas Aakenes


A student from the NTNU School of Entrepreneurship, Jonas Aakenes, recently visited Barcelona to find international clients for his own startup that makes HRM and preparedness software for humanitarian organizations. Also, he used his time to find entrepreneurship educations and Venture Creating programs.

The startup WAID from NTNU School of Entrepreneurship recently started collaborating with the Norwegian Red Cross to develop a preparedness system for humanitarian organizations, and to explore an international market for such a software, as well as looking for industry knowledge, Jonas went to Barcelona to follow up some leads there. This led him to visit different organizations, like Doctors Without Borders, The Red Cross (both Spanish and Catalan) and Oxfam. It looks like “dugnad” (a Norwegian word for the act of volunteer collaboration) also is strong in Barcelona.

Additionally, Jonas visited and got a sneak peek on two softwares that are addressing the same challenges that WAID want to do. Symphony is a HR management software made specifically for Doctors Without Borders, with the same vision as WAID; to make humanitarian workers available. They are these days implementing the software in the HQ in Barcelona as the first MSF operational center to do so. This implementation and the experiences of doing so will be key for Symphony to proceed their vision, and they were willing to share these experiences with us. This will be interesting insights for WAID to also proceed their path. As well the Homere system is in use in MSF, but specifically used for workers in the field.


The search for a Venture Creation Program led to the Harbour.Space University. Harbour.Space is a small university in Barcelona that strive to be close to new industry knowledge. Therefore, they are organized in a way that makes it easy for industry partners to hold courses. This includes dividing the year up in 15 periods instead of two semesters, each one lasting between 1-3 weeks. These intensive courses are lectured by industry partners that come here to lecture specific topics. You can find courses and lecturers on their website, The university consists of only 200 students from 30 different nationalities, focusing on high-tech entrepreneurship and digital marketing. Everyone needs to submit a business idea to apply, and the administration push for the students to start up something during the 1-year masters. One example is BANKI, started up by a Swedish student. Little is facilitated by the university for the students to find an idea and a team, so the students need to take the initiative themselves for finding co- founders and practical challenges of starting up. And indeed, they do. The external industry lecturers usually help out and mentor students when in need. In the future Harbour.Space is initiating a collaboration with Stanford university, getting lecturers from there, as well as opening a new campus in Bangkok with a university located there, the UTCC. Jonas is coming home with new insights and potentially new collaboration partners when returning to Norway.

Harbour Space University in the featured image.

Pictures in article by Jonas Aakenes.


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