Set in Norway’s picturesque fjord region, little Ålesund is a centre of expertise for the maritime sector, hosting over 200 companies and 17 shipyards. Local institutions offer niche education such as a Masters in Ship Design and a Bachelors in Biomarine Innovation. Silicon Valley it’s not, but Ålesund is a hidden success story of technological innovation – Norwegian style.

On 22 and 23 May Ålesund plays host to the annual InnoTown conference. Rather than focusing on the successful local industry, InnoTown invites an impressive line up of innovators from around the world to share their stories.

“InnoTown has a 13 year history as one of Europe’s best business & innovation conferences. This gives us a credibility that allow us to invite the very best entrepreneurs, visionaries and innovators onto the InnoTown stage”, said event organiser Dag Lausund.

This year’s talks feature two very different tales of innovation. Production designer Jay Shuster will reveal the secrets behind Pixar’s success, while Jeffrey Hayzlett will describe how Kodak’s failure to innovate took them from industry leaders to bankruptcy. Perhaps most intriguing for Scandinavians will be the two sessions from Danish giant LEGO on their “open innovation” strategy.

While the ticket price of €1500 may put off bootstrappers, Lausund says the calibre of speaker and the unique networking opportunities will make attendance worthwhile.

“InnoTown attracts 500 people from all kinds of trades and industries. What makes the event special is the cross-cultural mix of everyone from CEOs of large companies, to representatives from an array of small businesses, academia, press and public institutions. InnoTown is informal, takes place in inspiring surroundings and has rich networking possibilities. The chance to make new connections, to learn and be inspired by world class motivators makes InnoTown an ideal place for entrepreneurs from both new and established companies.”

A former IT Project Manager, David Nikel now works as a technology writer in Norway. He helps Norwegian companies communicate in English and reports on the entrepreneurial scene for ArcticStartup.

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