A case for business – Oslo Innovation Week
Oslo Innovation Week is a five-days series of events held in Oslo each October. From seminars and talks, pitching contest and hackathons, to workshops, breakfast meetings and company crawls; you will find events all over the city. The events are organized by over 90 different organizers from the Oslo region, such as corporates, start-ups, accelerators and organizations. The organization Oslo Innovation Week is owned by the City of Oslo and Innovation Norway, and Oslo Business Region is project manager.
If you google «innovation conference», you will find that you can easily attend one every day for the rest of your life. Arranging an innovation tech conference does not automatically get you on brand. It does not automatically get you international recognition. For Oslo to stand out, we need to prove that we are pioneering, enriching and real. Here is what we do to make that happen:
We started by asking why: Why do we arrange Oslo Innovation Week? The answer is two-fold:
We want to bring innovative minds together, to inspire each other, to learn from each other, to build new partnerships. Oslo Innovation Week is an arena that transforms new ideas into real, practical solutions.
We want to show the world that Oslo is a world-class innovation hub. To partner with. To invest in. To do business with.
It is easier to define your target group and build your program, when you know why you do it. All event organisers must also start with why.
Is it on brand?
We use the brand filter to filter all events. To become part of Oslo Innovation Week, all event organisers must fulfil specific criteria:
Involve the audience before, during and after
At most conferences, the audience is not really involved (besides the possibility to ask questions during a session). In the Oslo region, we do not have steep hierarchies. We are used to collaborate across positions and disciplines. Every voice can be heard. The Oslo Innovation Week is a “dugnad” itself. To stand out, the Oslo Innovation Week will take a position as a co-lab. This means involving the audience all the way. Because people attend conferences today not only to be inspired, they want to learn and to build their network. Here, Oslo’s short distances are an advantage.
In English, please
If you want international recognition and attendees, your program needs to be in English. Simple as that!
2016 theme: Powercouples
The Oslo region today has a lot of different innovations going on. We do not know what industries will define us post-oil, but we do know innovation is the answer. Deciding the theme for each OIW needs to embrace different fields of innovation and tech (for instance medtech, edtech, music tech, fintech, clean tech, R&D, venture capital, academia, and more).
The theme for 2016 is Powercouples. Innovation, particularly radical innovation, happens when connecting previously unconnected bodies of knowledge. At Oslo Innovation Week 2016 we build bridges between the established companies and the start-up scene. Between public and private. Academia and business. Oil and medtech. Music and Fashion. And many more.
This means all event organizers – no matter the subject for their seminar – must support the theme Powercouples, and build bridges especially between established companies and the start-up scene. It also means they have to support start-ups with discounts on tickets.
Be a pioneer
All event organisers must live the pioneering value. This means:
Involve new talent on stage (we want people to think «I heard it for the first time at Oslo Innovation Week»).
Have 70% female keynotes. Too many innovation conferences are characterized by dark suites and grey hair. Innovation today has a much broader spectrum. Instead of taking part of the crowd debating that there are too few women in tech and in power, we just put kick-ass women on stage. Because they exist – if you bother to look. At the official opening of the Oslo Innovation Week 2015 we hade only had female keynote speakers. Politicians, CEOs, CMOs, CTOs, VCs, tech geeks, founders – all women. We did not emphasize this in communication, as we believe actions speak louder than words. Journalist Jan Ameri from Arctic Startup (Finland) summed it up beautifully in an article about the opening: «It was only a couple of hours later that I realized that all the speakers had been women». Who did that? Oslo! Restrictions like these enforce fresh thinking. Like the Oslo restaurant Maaemo, being awarded 3 Michelin stars, their menu restricted to Norwegian flavours.
Showcase innovation in action. Too many conferences have inspirational talks about the future. Worried talks about the future (what will we live of post-oil?). We are tired of talking. A lot of innovation is happening right now!
Tell your story, don’t sell your product.
Make the buzz
A lot of good events are never being recognized outside the walls of the conference room. All event organizers must have a social media strategy in place, and activate all the speakers to talk about Oslo. All event organizers must also identify at least one international journalist they want to invite.
Improvements from 2015
Almost 10.000 people attended, but only 20% international guests. We do no need to grow in size, but we need to grow our international appeal.
350 speakers, and we only reached 21,5 million people in social media. Only 50 of them tweeted about OIW. We are working to get all event organisers to activate their speakers. Together – the chorus can be massive!