USA: Speech at lunch with technology start-ups
Ladies and gentlemen,
When we drove through Palo Alto yesterday, we passed a schoolyard with a big sign facing the road: We welcome children who want to change the world.
A bit ambitious, perhaps but that is the spirit of Silicon Valley.
That is why this area is a magnet on individuals and businesses with big dreams.
And this is why we are gathered here today where Norwegian entrepreneurs will present themselves.
It is great to be here! During my three years as a student at UC Berkeley, I learned to know the Bay area as a place I like returning to. The years at Berkeley represent a milestone in my life. I got friends from all parts of the world. Learning about global issues from a variety of perspectives was very important and has had a strong influence on my way of thinking and my view of the world.
The Silicon Valley attracts people from all over with different cultural backgrounds and diverse skills. Here - they come together, inspire each other, and accomplish something unique. They want to make a difference, more than just producing a nice return.
The way I see it, Californians and Norwegians have a similar mindset. We work hard, but we dont take ourselves too seriously. We share the same high ambitions and social consciousness. These similarities lay the foundation for strong collaborations.
Norway has a long tradition of solving complex problems in challenging environments, in sectors such as shipping and offshore petroleum and gas. These sectors have continuously used the most advanced technologies in the world. IT solutions have been, and still are, crucial for the continued development of these industries. New IT technology has emerged from innovations that were originally developed for other fields. For example, almost 50 years of research and development in sonar technology is now forming the foundation for developing touchless gestures for smartphones and tablets. There have been an increasing number of innovations in the fields of robotics and censors in Norway.
As a country with a population a bit smaller than the Bay area, Norwegians have always looked abroad for inspiration, trade and collaboration. 18 months ago, I had the pleasure of opening Innovation House in Palo Alto. Since then, many Norwegian tech start-ups have come to Silicon Valley. Innovation Houses core ambition is to offer Norwegian ideas global opportunities. For that purpose, there is no better place to be than in Silicon Valley.
Some of the Norwegian start-ups located in California may not yet be on your radar but I am sure they will be. Today, we will get a taste of what some of these innovators and entrepreneurs have to offer. They have developed unique technology. They may still be small in scale, but they are large in terms of creativity and competence.
I hope this working lunch will be a source of inspiration and that it will help to generate new business relationships.