Despite the shock of the pandemic, over the past year Oslo has continued to evolve its innovation and start-up ecosystem. The region continues to build its number of home-grown tech firms faster than others and there is growing evidence to suggest that these firms now also have access to more early stage funding. New data also shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has helped to spur growth and recognition in many of Oslo’s emerging specialisations in future industries, for example EdTech (e.g. Kahoot!), FinTech (e.g. Monner, Zwipe), and MedTech (e.g. via UiO’s SPARK programme).
However, there is still much more to do for Oslo to translate its innovation promise into more high value jobs and inventions. More focus is required to scale and finance innovative firms to become globally influential players, relative to other city regions. Oslo is also not yet as recognised for its track record of publishing high impact scientific publications and patent applications.
Figure 6: Year-on-year growth in the number of high-innovation firm HQs, Oslo and European peers
Figure 7: Ecosystem value and high-value innovative firm exits per 100,000 people, Oslo and selected peers
Oslo is the 27th most trusted among European start-up founders and entrepreneurs, among 75 European start-up hubs.
The race for start-ups is heating up. Oslo remains outside the global top 100 for the size, scale and growth trajectory of its start-up ecosystem, despite having improved by 14 places since last year.
Figure 8: Oslo’s innovative firms by industry (word cloud) and specialisation in select industries relative to peers (table).
Oslo’s skills profile will underpin the region’s resilience as the pandemic subsides. Oslo is still a leading European region for higher education attainment and English proficiency, although others are gaining fast. A track record of high-impact academic research is becoming more visible and is helping to establish Oslo as an attractive city for researchers and innovators.
However, Oslo is not as STEM-ready as other regions. It has fewer STEM students and dedicated life sciences programmes and a less established track record of excellence in key STEM areas relative to other city regions. All-round talent competitiveness is also held back by a lower perceived value for money compared to others: high salary expectations for skilled jobs such as software engineers dampen start-up founders’, entrepreneurs’ and investors’ perceptions of the city's "bang for buck" on investment in high-tech sectors of the economy.
Figure 9: % of adults with a degree level qualification or higher, Oslo and European peers