You’ve probably heard the comments. You know, the ones a certain US president made about wanting people from Norway to migrate to the US. The media backlash from that comment has been both immediate and hilarious, but the main point is actually a very solid one: Norwegians have no need to immigrate anywhere.
Instead, Norway has been welcoming expats from all over the world – and changes to the migration policies notwithstanding, the Land of the Vikings can be an especially attractive hub for tech talent in particular. Here’s why.
Unlike more traditional tech hubs such as San Francisco and London, it’s actually way less stressful to live in Norway. Sure, the cost of living is equally sky high (perhaps even more so), but issues like pay inequality, lack of transparency and financial uncertainty, as well as a severe lack of actual free time, are non-issues in Norway.
For one, with everyone’s tax returns being posted publicly online every year, it’s very difficult for companies to discriminate between employees or generally be shady. The overall egalitarian culture and welfare state provide equal opportunities to all, as well as a minimum of five weeks paid leave and a year of parental leave split between the parents – while the laid-back Scandinavian culture ensures that you’ll have time to ski (or hike, zipline, and otherwise be active) before or after work. Add to that a green approach to everything, from incentives to buy electric cars to one of the most effective recycling systems in the world and ecologically sustainable buildings, and you can be sure that not only you will have time to breathe in Norway, but the air you will be breathing will actually be emission-free.
With the number of start-ups and growth companies constantly rising, as well as the city’s landscape constantly evolving, Oslo is nowadays buzzing with the energy of a city where anything can happen. Organisations like The Hub and Startup Norway are helping to build and expand the startup eco-system by creating events (like the Startup Extreme in Bergen) and offering resources. With the price of oil, Norway’s primary industry, dropping, and the focus shifting to ways to reduce carbon fuels, Norway’s software engineering forces are now turning their attention towards fintech (financial technologies), cleantech and medtech.
Fintech is particularly important. Within the past year, the number of fintech oriented accelerators in Oslo has increased, which is attracting global talent. Oslo may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think about digital finance (hello, Estonia), but give it some time and it very soon will be.
This is, perhaps, the most important aspect. With Brexit making many UK residents think about taking their business elsewhere, and with the current US administration making people less inclined to travel (let alone immigrate) to America, other destinations will rise as obvious choices for skilled professionals. More English-language friendly than Finland and Estonia, and less saturated market-wise than Sweden, Norway is shaping up to be the tech hub of the future. Thankfully, a tech hub that’s lushly forested.