Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (8)–“Nordic Ways: Values for Innovation & Global Economic Success”

Final Panel of the Conference: “Nordic Ways–Values that Underpin Innovation and Global Economic Success” Moderator: Jay L. Bruns III (University of Washington); Dagfinn Høybråten, Nordic Council of Ministers; Jorodd Asphjell, Norwegian Parliament; Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden US Ambassador; Kåre Aas, Norway US Ambassador; Kirsti Kauppi, Finland US Ambassador, Þorbjörg Vigfúsdóttir, Kara Connect (Iceland).

Also pitch for book by author András Simonyi on Nordic Ways [András Simonyi (Editor), Debra Cagan (Editor)]. Professor Simonyi also says he is moving from Johns Hopkins to George Washington University.

1. Dagfinn Høybråten, Nordic Council of Ministers: Nordic countries combined population: 27 million people. Sixty years ago, common passport; common labor & education markets too. Proximity is important, but common values matter. Three core Nordic values guide the way we work together–Trust, Gender Equality, Sustainability.

  • Trust: in Nordic countries, they basically trust people that they don’t know; among the world’s highest level of social trust (in people, institutions, business relations). If you have it, you don’t need as much regulation. (Trust is helping to found Nordic Innovation Houses, in Silicon Valley, now New York City, Singapore, Hong Kong)
  • Gender Equality: we are not perfect, but better than in many other areas; gender equality in labor markets. Drives transparency, fairness. Increases in women’s employment have added 10-20% GDP last 40 years.
  • Sustainability: Good for people, society, world, and good for business.

2. Þorbjörg Vigfúsdóttir: Education and health are keys to Nordic culture.

3. Kirsti Kauppi, Finland US Ambassador. “The most important value is equality.” And the best way to implement equality is through education. Especially primary education system. Yet “a good education system today is not [necessarily] a good education for tomorrow.”

4. Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden US Ambassador. Equality: Sweden has declared itself the first feminist government. It means all government policies have to note what they have to do with female equality. Sweden has 80% employment rate for women; USA about 67%. Strengthens economy, she says.

5.  Jorodd Asphjell, Norwegian Parliament. View on Nordic ways. First visit to Seattle; been politician 17 years; 27 million people in Nordic economies.

6. Kåre Aas, Norway US Ambassador. Praises András Simonyi  work on Nordic Ways. Had meeting in Washington State today with Governor Jay Inslee and other Washington officials, labor and business leaders about electric ferries, and beyond, to the Paris Agreement issues also.

Question & Answer Session:

Nobel Peace Prize 1901, selected by Norwegian committee, Alfred Nobel (who was Swedish, and made the other Nobel prizes Swedish-based) specifically made it happen; recognition in the era about Nordic regionalism.

Question on gender equality and quotas. Different countries are taking different approaches.

Comment on national health care approaches. Høybråten (formerly Norway’s Health Minister) responded that the universal care is based on trust value he enumerated above. Safety net will support you if you fall into hard times or health crisis.

Nordic immigration issues: Swedish ambassador says Sweden has most asylum-seekers; do want skilled labor; Swedes historically generous. Sweden “one of the richest countries in the world” so if we can’t help, who will? Issue is that the process takes too long, especially to get new residents and citizens into labor market.

Finnish ambassador says content of the discussion changed after 2015, from a wave of asylum-seekers; 10 times as many came as in previously years. “The situation got out of hand, out-of-control.” People got impression it wouldn’t end. We anticipate more population pressure from Middle East and Africa social histories now. Yet we think the situation will improve.

Another view: we think now to help refugees closer to their home countries; Norway now fifth biggest contributor to Syrian relief. European agreement on immigration is now working. Yet important to solve Middle East crisis, the real source of the refugee crisis. In 2015 there were 52 nationalities coming to Norway claiming to be from Syria; even Cubans!

Høybråten as last commenter, says 2015 a stress-test of Nordic cooperation. He feels they passed the test, and the cooperation is better now.



Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (7)–Norwegian Olympic Movement Strategies for Success

Niels Røine EVP Communications, Norwegian Olympic/Paralympic Committee

AFTERNOON KEYNOTE: “Play, Teamwork, and Performance—or How to Rule the Olympics”

  1. Winter Olympics 2018, Norway won 39 medals, 14 gold, most of any country for winter Olympics; “skiing has always been at the heart of our culture” back to 12th century. Slogan: “We are still pioneering.” Start with childhood; want the kids to be outside, summer and winter. Skiing culture is the foundation for all the winter sports.
  2. One purpose to Norwegian sport: to have joy. Different from emphasis of other countries, including USA. Question: what’s in it for the kids? They have to have joy, and feel that they can manage. Slogan for kids: “I manage.” Last year, 93% of all Norwegian children were in a sports club. 12,000 winter sports clubs.
  3. In Norway, the usual four major sports organizations (national Olympic Committee for example) are in one organization. “A free, open, and democratic popular movement.” Not organized through schools, aim for volunteer engagement.
  4. Values: Honesty; Health; Community; Love of Sport.
  5. Emphasis on leadership; democratic but when decisions are made, everyone has the expectation to follow. Later, evaluation can be made to make changes.
  6. Basic philosophy: Learning from the best athletes; cross-sports experiences; 24-hour-a-day athletes
  7. Always asking questions; “the best athletes always ask the best questions”
  8. Digital world; now “e-sport” will be very important in Norway


Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (6)–Nordic Smart Cities Movement

AFTERNOON FIRST PANEL: “Changing the World from its Northeast Corner I–The Nordic Smart Cities Movement”


Six panelists: Bernt Reitan Jenssen, (CEO, Ruter AS Oslo); Johan Bjorklund, (Ericsson, VP GM Smart City and Market Development); Knut Eirik Gustavsen, eSmart Systems; Teemu Lehtinen (Chief Digital Officer, KIRA-digi project); Goran Sparrman (Seattle Department of Transport)

  1. Jenssen: Oslo Ruter video on public transit, real problem: we pick up people from where they don’t want to be and take them where they don’t want to go. Want to change the public transit industry; example no tickets, just get billed by the month. Focus on user experience.
  2. Bjorklund: Smart Cities like telecom used to be; exciting, but nobody knows quite where it’s going; in 10 years, much more useful technology will be available than the purpose-built today; business model on smart cities using citizen data won’t really work–people are starting to get creeped out about how their data is being used; thus challenge–how do we use this data for peoples’ well-being, rather than being used by those who would monetize it
  3. Goran Sparrman, Seattle Department of Transport: Seattle maybe most dynamic economy in USA today, yet also many social impact issues–transport; equity; housing; Seattle: we view ourselves as the high-tech capital of the United States (sorry, Silicon Valley!); yet developing technology and how it impacts us, so guiding principles: traffic systems; social equitable, affordability of transportation systems; engagement and empowerment on transportation, housing, growth. Q&A: important to deal with data gathering and privacy.
  4. Knut Eirik Gustavsen, eSmart Systems: “Cities have to grow from within”; each city has different needs. If you want a smart city, it has to come from within. His company, practical in approach; want to show things work. Smart small; be practical; help city administration build from within. Q&A: Norway has highest concentration of electric vehicles (EV), straining the grid, EV issues a surprise.
  5. Teemu Lehtinen, Finland: (see; Models as 3D “digital twin” in open data for companies and citizens) Work on quick, experimental projects with 40% government funding, 60% from companies that apply. Q&A: Openness, open standards are key. Ex: mobility/transportation–Finland company WHIM app makes for better user experience
  6. Kris Hanssen, Nordic Semiconductor: Oslo-based company with R&D in Norway, Finland, Poland, USA; “World leader fabless semiconductor”; launched ultra-lower power short-range wireless communication. Only about 10 years, smart phones have come out, and peoples’ lives have changed from these devices, like paying bills with them. So we may have similar and maybe even more positive experiences from smarter devices to come.

Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (5)–Ericsson Speakers on Ericsson 5G Broadband Innovation

Peter Linder (5G in North America), Ericsson, Lunch Keynote; along with Ulf Edwaldsson (5G History from Day1); Robert McCrorey, (5G Innovation in Seattle)

Peter Linder(5G in North America):

1. Today in North America 95% population covered by mobile broadband; 18 Billion connected devices in 2017; 8x worldwide data traffic jump from 2017 to 2023

2. USA per-capita smartphone penetration = 93%; actual people 77% (some have more than one mobile device)

3. Projections: Total mobile traffic grows 8x between 2017 and 2013; in 2023 global 5G traffic is 20%; Video grows 10 times, reaching 75% of total traffic (each of THESE video bits have less information value); today mostly text and pictures

4. Global market for operator service revenue $1.5 T; 2026 only 1.5% more, $1.736; opportunity, digitalization revenues will grow from $968B to $3.458B, 13.6% growth

5. Opportunities (scale driven versus performance-driven; Ericsson has chart with 400-use cases):

5.1  Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB); performance-driven

5.2 Fixed Wireless Access (FWA)–example, Verizon, with fixed 15M BB; 100M mobile; they see 30M more household–fiber close to user, then 5G;

5.3 Massive IoT (scale driven)

5.4 Critical IoT (example: self-driving cars)

6. Revenue potential 5G for operators; adding an addressable 36% revenue growth potential

7. Ten most important industries; Manufacturing the largest (18%); agriculture the smallest, about 1% (has pie chart of these segments)

8. “It is all about use-case evolution”

Ex: enhanced mobile broadband from current: screens everywhere, to 5G experience: immersive experience

9. Ericsson pushing to accelerate develop of global standard; expand 5G ecosystems beyond mobile; execute a variety of 5G proof of concept trials; develop insights on 5G industry potential

Ulf Edwaldsson, (5G History from Day1):

10. was CTO; CIO; now advisor to CEO

11. Innovation: “Most things start on a napkin.” In 2012, in San Diego, CTO meeting spoke of next generation

12. “Telecom is a totally standardized industry;” everything has to talk to everything else; standards from 1876; licensing is key

13. Nordic broadband wireless innovation generations: NT (1G); 2002 then 2G (GSM); in 2012, mobile traffic 5 Exabytes (18 zeroes;1 EB = 10006bytes = 1018bytes = 1000000000000000000B = 1000 petabytes = 1millionterabytes = 1billiongigabytes.), as many as every word the human race has ever spoken; about 4.5B subscribers; then 4G

13.1 each generation about 10 years in this technology

14. Today 4G coverage about 55% in world; in next 4 years, 85% (real smartphone experience)

15. Latency; battery life (aim for 10 years’ battery life on any sensor); AI technology based on “sensors everywhere” looping back on itself

16. China wants 5G to modernize its entire industry; “China is a company; the entire nation is a company” so watch their approach; 5G will be a race to modernize industries worldwide (some countries will be left behind)

Robert McCrorey, (5G Innovation in Seattle); works in local Bellevue office; T-Mobile his main client

17. In technology industry, you work with people from all over the world; in Ericsson, 25% employees in R&D; half employees in service (“innovation happens in service as well”); industry founded by Bell in 1876; Ericsson founded in 1876 as well;

18. now ever-increasing impact on society; yet every new positive innovation also brings new problems; ex: social issues with smart phones; RF radiation; Ericsson is willing to discuss technological problems as well as advantages

19. Ericsson has about 10,000 USA employees; HQ in Plano, TX; Net sales $6.093 B (FY 2017); 500 employees in Bellevue; largest customers: att; rogers; sprint; century link etc.

20. Some people say 5G widespread deployment in 2020; yet that period really is about early use-cases; innovations will cycle rapidly the more deployment is done




Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (4)–“Coming to America, 21st Century Migration”

Second morning panel: “Coming to America–Venture-Backed Migration in the 21st Century”

Moderator: Katrine Joensen, (Consul General Denmark); Tor-Ove Henriksen, (Skooler); Aren Tonning, (Alliance Venture); Thomas Ryd, (CEO; Petra Hilleberg, (CEO, Hilleberg the Tentmaker);

Mathias Björkholm (Picket); 100 million photos uploaded to Internet five years ago; now 5 billion

Panelists speak of cultural differences. Sales and marketing may be somewhat difficult for Nordic cultural background people. One panelist says his children, in USA schools, are learning to present themselves and present in front of people.

One panelist says in Nordic companies, flatter structure, more consensus approaches.

A panelist says in Sweden “we’re not working FOR someone, we’re working TOGETHER with someone.” A different approach from many USA worker mentalities.

A panelist wants his company not to use titles, make business a purpose-driven mission. Wants completely autonomous, decentralized approach in the workplace.

A panelist says their different offices in USA and Nordic is that the USA office is more direct, maybe faster in getting things done because of it.

To migrate in, you need lots of help. You need to make friends.

[Nota Bene: this last comment by a panelist is a good observation, with good advice. Coming to another country as an expatriate is challenging; it’s hard work, and stressful. Even going to the grocery store in a country that’s foreign to you can be stressful. So making local friends is a good survival skill, and changes the equation for you as a visitor. It makes a better in-country experience for you, and you may find friendships that last–through time, and across space. JEG]


Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (3)–“The Nordic Startup Explosion”

Panel Discussion: The Nordic Startup Explosion

Moderator: Todd Bishop, Geekwire; Panelists: Fredrik Cassel (Creandum); Gro Eirin Dyrnes (Nordic Innovation House); Hartti Suomela (Business Finland); Dr. John Markus Lervik (Cognite AS)

Issues about technical competence, yet the need for marketing skills is clear.

One panelist says USA visa issues are discouraging now for Nordic entrepreneurs to want to come to USA versus staying in the positive business-setting of the Nordic region.

Panelist Hartti Suomela, Business Finland, points to major startup event in Helsinki, Slush.

Here is text from the Slush website:


During what is – let’s be honest – the sh*ttiest weather season of the year, Slush brings together the leading actors of the global tech scene to Helsinki for something very special. Described by many as “Burning Man meets TED”, the event has grown in just a few short years to 20,000 attendees and 1 million live stream viewers.

In 2017, over 2,600 startups, 1,500 venture capitalists, and 600 journalists from over 130 countries gathered to Slush to drive business, and to experience the phenomenal atmosphere.

Questions about venture capital market and angel funding; positive in Nordics, yet USA funding environment has “deeper war-chest, which allows for more mistakes.”

Nordic governments have more engaged role for start-up companies; have matching grants, for example.

Categories for upcoming positive startups: AI; machine-learning (panel notes China much involved in this; Finland government has also focused on this); Norway, oil/gas, maritime areas; 5G connectivity space with Ericsson and Nokia is good (and USA restrictions in this space against Chinese companies, so creates opportunities).

Direct local connection between financial sources and startups; even direct air connection can make a difference. Finnair now has a direct air connection from Finland to Silicon Valley.

One panelist says it’s OK if it’s hard to break into USA market, because it forces the Nordic companies to become more competitive, to be better.

A panelist says focus on Nordic entrepreneur strengths, don’t compete with China on labor costs or USA on equity wealth; compete with work-ethic, loyalty (much less employee turnover).

Another says: keep your focus on a niche; pursue wholeheartedly. This may be different from Silicon Valley.

Key take-aways:

1. Dyrnes: from Silicon Valley perspective, many surprising companies bringing passion to market; I’m optimistic.

2. Lervik: Nordic startups may be much more lowkey than others; yet much depth in these companies often; (typical Nordic culture attribute).

3. Suomela: focus on niche, get out early with product.

4. Cassel: Nordic society and technology now more important than ever.

Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (2)–2nd Morning Keynote: “Business in the Nordics”

Second keynote: “Business in the Nordics Viewed from the US Perspective” by Vahe Torossian, Corporate Vice President, and President MSFT Western Europe

Work in 197 countries in the world. (He has traveled in 127 countries.) Working to infusing trust in the countries they are working in.

It’s not about what technology can do; it’s what technology should do.

Has quote from Satya Naddella, (“Hit Refresh” as source), focus on human gifts “to help move society forward.”

60% of children in schools today will have jobs in their future that don’t exist today.

Creativity has become one of the most important job skills (from 10th on list  in 2015 to 3rd on list today).

Microsoft has 120,000 employees now. They now have 2100 employees in 13 locations in Nordic areas. Have ten thousand partners in region, who employee themselves 180,000 in region. One Microsoft employee leads to creation of 19 partner employees, in the ecosystem. For every one dollar Microsoft earns, six dollars are earned by the ecosystem.

He shows pictures of his four General Manager colleagues in Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden. Says how you can talk about people without showing their faces?

Torossian focuses on education; says bilingualism helps people be more innovative and open to differences.

Mix of marketing/operation vs. R&D employees; now about 60-40%.

Network Readiness Index, correlation between societies and social well-being. Stockholm creating most unicorn companies, after Silicon Valley.

Equality, balance of resources, exemplary model for the rest of the world from Nordics. “Equality without inclusion” doesn’t matter.

Joint initiative between Microsoft and Baltic Development Forum, the Nordic think tank “Top of Digital Europe.” Published report: “2017 State of the Digital Region: Exloring Automation, Education and Learning in the Baltic Sea Region” (Wernberg and Andersson, authors)

Policy Priorities in Nordic area:

  • Promote cross-border
  • Educate and develop region’s best talents and expertise
  • Develop balanced business environment between regulation and innovation
  • Promote EU’s digital single market and advance transatlantic cooperation
  • Develop ICT-led cross-border public services
  • Attract global talent to the region

Innovation example, Maersk: leader in area, using cloud computing for operations and customer experience.

Example: power company, query: who is your competitor? Unusual answer: the consumer, who will be generating their own power.







Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (1)

The renewed Nordic Museum in Seattle, “the only Nordic Museum in the world,” (in its complete regional rather than national focus) is sponsoring the Nordic Innovation Conference, with underwriting by Ericsson, the Swedish telecommunications corporation.

Keynote speaker is Kristen Skogen Lund, CEO Confederation of Norwegian Employers. Speech title: “The Future of Work–Prosperity and Well-Being for All in the 21st Century.”

Era for labor has high-skill, low-skill bipolar distribution. In Norway, high wages in general cost job opportunities because everything that can be automated is. Resulting low-skill jobs have high wages relatively, which attracts many immigrants, which increases labor competition.

In 1987 Commission led by first female Prime Minister of Sweden, coined term “sustainable development.” Pushed concept of making environmental progress and sustainability actually profitable.

Is a main issue that we don’t have right way to measure current phenomena? Example: workers are measured as business cost, yet environmental pollution has no measured cost at all.

Inequality is a cost too; how is this measured? Consumption goes down when wealth is concentrated at the top, since upper income people spend less of their wealth in proportion to poorer people.

OECD: increase of inequality by 1 percent will decrease GDP by 0.8 percent.

Yet good news: global poverty has decreased from 40% to 10%, even while increasing inequality within countries.

Businesses must take the lead in facing society’s challenges. Outstanding leaders not only understand change, they meet it. In fact, they create it.

Two key words: openness, and courage. Openness to the need to change; courage to create it.

First lesson: take initiative in change, can’t wait till it’s obvious.

Second lesson: leaders must learn to differentiate between metaphorical “passing storms versus climate change.” Example: dot-com bust was storm; digitalization was climate change.

People tend to think in linear ways; but sometimes the future is not more of the same; sometimes it’s very different. If you are linear yourself, surround yourself with some people who are not.

Estonia: concept of e-citizenship; more people can be Estonians whether they live there or not. Another disruptive thought.

“Lifelong learning” is the key phrase. “Discretionary learning” as it’s called is the concept; Norway, Sweden, Denmark are the leaders in this, for adult learners. You learn the most by doing new things; so mobility in the labor force is crucial.

Empowerment is also key; worker quality and empowerment of Norwegian employees are a reason there is still much industry in Norway, rather than being outsourced to cheaper areas. Nordic work-ethic and committed employees are incentives for businesses to locate there.

Oversight and insight, key terms. Leaders may have oversight, but not insight. And employees often have insight, yet little oversight. So bringing these together is a key need.

“We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.”

You learn more from people who are opposed to you, than people who agree with you. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about striking a balance.

Young people are not looking for career planning; they are looking for purpose.