Andreas Morland has said that investors are
According to one startup in the Bergen region, the city’s investment scene has never been more active.
After his company received funding, Andreas Morland was able to finish developing his product – an underwater drone – and secure his first clients.
Andreas, founder of the aquaculture company SeaSmart, says that investors in the city are now “more visible and more accessible” than ever before.
He believes that this is partly thanks to the work of one local organization, VIS.
Gap in the market
Andreas spent many years working in the fish farming industry, before deciding to launch his own company in 2014. He had spotted a significant gap in the market.
“I saw that there were no proper solutions when it came to taking measurements in the water. The equipment that did exist was unwieldy, and would often break down.”
Instead, he aimed to develop an autonomous drone that could fit in a suitcase, and could be placed into a fish pen in moments.
Seasmart’s drone technology takes measurements within fish pens, providing more accurate data to aquaculture companies.
Andreas found building his company to be a long and sometimes nerve‑wracking journey. In the beginning, it was sometimes difficult to take out a salary. “Luckily my family was very understanding during this period,” he adds.
After moving into the Marineholmen business park, however, the entrepreneur was able to find an angel investor who could provide much‑needed support.
This enabled him to develop the drone technology and secure SeaSmart’s first paying customers.
Going in the right direction
At VIS, Bergen’s local technology transfer office, Tor Ole Rognaldsen tells me about some of the recent events his organization has been holding across the city.
One of these was Demo Day 2019 last month, where start-ups presented their business ideas to a packed hall full of more than 200 local and national financiers.
Tor Ole, Head of Venture and Legal at VIS, explains: “We are seeing more and more investors coming to Bergen to find out more about the technologies that are being developed here.”
“We are also seeing larger numbers of local investors who are becoming interested in early‑stage investments in Bergen companies.”
“Everything is going in the right direction,” he adds.
At the recent “Demo Day 2019” event in Bergen, organized by VIS, start-ups met with a range of local and national investors. Photo © Margrethe Vikan Sæbø, VIS.
Betting big on start‑ups
And it is not just VIS that is betting big on Bergen’s start‑up community.
The utility company BKK has revealed plans to invest 130 million NOK ($15 million) into new sustainable businesses in the region through its BKK Spring initiative.
This initiative builds on a successful pilot project last year, BKK Grønn Invest, which saw three lucky start‑ups being given major cash injections.
Elsewhere, the successful incubator StartUp Lab also recently announced that it was opening a second office in Bergen.
The company’s chief executive, Alexander Woxen, says: “We want to see more successful companies in Bergen, and hopefully play a constructive role in how the start-up scene unfolds.”
Championing the marine industry
There is always room for improvement, as Andreas at SeaSmart acknowledges.
“Some investors are still uncertain about entering the seafood sector, as they lack familiarity with the sector.
Nevertheless, the entrepreneur expects fundraising efforts to get easier, as VIS and other organizations continue to champion the marine industry in Bergen.
With so many smart people working in this area, the sky (and the sea) is the limit.
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