From Diplomacy to Startup Dynamism
Tom Miskin’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of career shifts. With a background in international diplomacy and a stint at the British foreign office in Oslo, his introduction to the startup world came unexpectedly during a royal visit. As Tom recalls, “We introduced them to, I think, four startups, including reMarkable and No Isolation, helping children that are unable to go to school because of illness.” This pivotal moment opened Tom’s eyes to the burgeoning startup scene in Oslo, leading him to his current role in fostering innovation.
Embracing Digital in Times of Crisis
When the pandemic hit, Tom had just taken the helm of Oslo Innovation Week. The sudden shift to a digital world posed challenges but also opened new doors. As Tom describes, “We had to pivot like all other events… so we managed hybrid. Again, that was new, difficult, and challenging, but also an opportunity because you did actually manage to attract international attendees online that may not have traveled.” This ability to adapt has proven crucial in maintaining the event’s relevance and reach.
The Ecosystem’s Evolution: Scale-ups Taking Center Stage
The startup ecosystem in Oslo has matured significantly, with Tom noting a shift in focus from startups to scale-ups. “Startups have gotten a lot of the support they need, and it’s meant a natural move towards us supporting the scale-up ecosystem,” he explains. This evolution reflects the growth and increasing sophistication of the entrepreneurial landscape in Oslo, which now boasts over 200 scale-up companies and a significant contribution to job creation.
International Capital: Fueling Norway’s Innovation
Despite the common perception of Norway as a country flush with funds, Tom highlights a surprising gap: “There is lots of money in Norway…but not VC.” He elaborates on the cultural and historical reasons for this and the strategic pivot toward sustainable and impactful startups as Norway transitions away from oil and gas. “We’re very reliant on international VC capital in Oslo and in Norway,” Tom adds, underscoring the international community’s role in fueling local innovation.
Oslo Innovation Week: A Community-Centric Approach
Oslo Innovation Week stands out with its unique, crowdsourced format. “It’s a collaboration with the ecosystem in Oslo and beyond,” says Tom. With events free to attend and no charge for companies to participate, Oslo Innovation Week fosters a community spirit. Looking ahead to its 20th anniversary in 2024, Tom is enthusiastic about the future: “We have few resources, but big ambitions So we’re always reliant on working with good collaborators.”