Stig and Avanish have joined the R&I team

“I knew this was the company I have to work with even if it means traveling miles away from my home”

Avanish Verma
During the winter and spring, Smart Innovation Norway’s Research & Innovation team has been expanded with two more colleagues – one new and one old acquaintance.

“Having visited Smart Innovation Norway multiple times before I started, I was aware of the quality research the organization undertakes. The passion of the company to design and create sustainable energy systems inspired me to look at working here, says Avanish Verma, Senior Researcher Energy Systems.

He had his first official day at Smart Innovation Norway on January 20th.

From New Delhi to Norway

“My frequent discussions with the Smart Innovation Norway team in my previous role provided me with new insightful perspectives on clean energy and I knew this was the company I have to work with even if it means traveling miles away from my home,” continues Verma.

He has a bachelor’s degree in technology (mechanical and automation), a master’s degree in energy management, and an MBA from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, in Ahmedabad.

“I have worked for leading energy companies in India and across the entire value chain of power generation, transmission, distribution, and trading. I am married to an IT professional and have a son who just turned four. We have moved from a busy and bustling New Delhi to a peaceful and beautiful Halden,” explains Verma – smiling.

Value creation and business development

His role as part of the Research & Innovation team at the company will mainly be to look at new projects from concept development, initiation to exploitation.

Photo of Avanish Verma
Avanish Verma

“I believe I can join the dots and create value through effective business development. I can also provide insights into the development of the right business models, exploitation of research products developed,” says Smart Innovation Norway’s new senior researcher (photo).

He reveals that the cultural difference between India and Norway in a work context is quite significant, but an interesting one:

“While in India the DNA for company success is individual brilliance and you are expected to work at the pace of fastest member in the group, my limited exposure to Smart Innovation Norway indicates a more collaborative approach towards work. Further openness of my colleagues to assist and help has helped me overcome the work culture change from the Indian context,” emphasizes Verma.

New “old” face

The second new face to join Smart innovation Norway this spring, is in fact an old one. Stig Ødegaard Ottesen worked for the company from 2008 until 2014, when he was hired as the Head of Research & Development at the newly founded software company, eSmart Systems. As of April 1st, 2020, Ødegaard Ottesen rejoined Smart Innovation Norway in the position as Section Head National Research.

“I wanted to come back to Smart Innovation Norway to have the opportunity to work with innovation-driven research, with digitalization and sustainability as the main focus areas,” comments Ødegaard Ottesen.

He holds a PhD in Industrial Economics and Technology Management from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The topic of his thesis was Techno-economic models in SmartGrids. He also has a MSc in Electrical Power Engineering.

“My main interest is related to energy resources, energy systems and flexibility in combination with trade, market design and business models. This was also the focus in my doctorate, where I developed decision models which explicitly attend to uncertainty and risk. I am especially intrigued by how optimization methods and artificial intelligence can be combined to provide better results,” explains Ødegaard Ottesen.

Building bridges

His responsibilities in the newly formed Section Head National Research position at Smart innovation Norway include initiating R&I projects that are funded by Norwegian funding agencies, such as the Norwegian Research Council, Regional Research Funds, Enova and Innovation Norway.

Photo of Stig Ødegaard Ottesen
Stig Ødegaard Ottesen

“In addition, I hope to participate in some of the research projects myself, to develop my own competence and to work closely with some of the partners,” notes Ødegaard Ottesen (photo).

His ambition has always been to build a bridge between businesses and academia, and contribute to making sure that the research leads to new products and services – and new workplaces.

“I know the culture on both sides and know by experience that bridging the gap is not as easy as it may seem. I am also familiar with the funding agencies and application processes. In my opinion, tearing down the silos is a prerequisite for solving society’s challenges,” says Ødegaard Ottesen, who is impressed with Smart Innovation Norway’s commitment to innovation in combination with a high degree of professional competence:

“The company has developed a lot since I was last employed here, and it is fantastic to see new cluster members and collaboration partners as well as new startups. I am looking forward to an exciting time!”