Through the Norwegian catapult program, Smart Innovation Norway has established a test center that develops, tests, and simulates products, services, and processes. AID katapult is essentially an industrial training facility that shortens the journey from idea to market.
Imagine you have an idea for a product that you firmly believe in, something that you think can make a significant difference from today's solutions. Or a service that doesn't exist, but you've discovered there's a need for. How do you convince the right people to invest with you?
A journey through Siva – the Company for Industrial Growth's catapult program might be the solution. A catapult offers industrial training centers with equipment and expertise to companies that need to test an idea, simulate an event sequence, or develop a product or service.
At the other end of the process, you'll have knowledge and documentation to help you move forward on the road to the market.
The catapult family is growing
"We helped an industrial company in the oil industry on the West Coast create, among other things, a video and VR solution that made it much easier for them to showcase their new product to their customers. They posted the video on LinkedIn, which resulted in an inquiry from an international player and a contract for a new assignment," says Bjørn Dimmen.
He is the Managing Director of DigiCat in Ålesund, the catapult center to which Smart Innovation Norway's catapult is a node.
Dimmen was present during the launch of AID in August 2023, and he is pleased to see the catapult family growing. The five national centers, with DigiCat being one of them, have gained eight nodes, including the AID catapult, under their wings during the year.
AID focuses primarily on artificial intelligence and digital twins since Smart Innovation Norway has expertise in these two fields.
"There was great attendance at the launch, and it was a nice event that demonstrated both AID's services and the target audience for the catapult," says Dimmen.
The head of DigiCat is dedicated to spreading the message about the Norwegian catapult program as much as possible. He frequently meets with business leaders who are unaware of the opportunity for financial support available through a catapult center.
"The company's own contribution and Siva's catapult funds can together unlock significant opportunities. I try to emphasize that companies shouldn't think of limitations, that the most important thing for companies is to get ideas and challenges down on paper, and then we can determine which supplier is the best and connect the parties," he explains.
"Among Norway's leading innovation companies"
The launch of the AID catapult dates back to the autumn of 2022 when the government allocated 47 million NOK for test facilities in rural areas to contribute to increased restructuring and a more sustainable Norwegian business sector.
Siva announced pilot projects under the Norwegian catapult program, and by the application deadline, they had received applications from Smart Innovation Norway and 27 other candidates from all over the country.
"Smart Innovation Norway is among Norway's leading innovation companies in terms of focus, capacity, and the link between research and application. It is very gratifying that this environment with this capacity is part of the national effort that Norwegian catapult is," said Bjørn Arne Skogstad, Industry Special Adviser at Siva, during the opening of AID.
Skogstad has followed the company for the past 10-12 years, from being a business cluster in its early stages to developing not only one but three clusters, an incubator, an internationally recognized research department, an early-stage fund, and a smart city initiative.
Now he looks forward to following their journey further.
"You are going to help fulfill the government's mandate to Norwegian catapult, and that mandate is not very modest. It states that you should provide equipment, technology, and expertise to the entire country so that businesses from Nordkapp to Lista can increase their competitiveness. You are to contribute to more innovation and faster adaptability with a view to increased and new industrial value creation in Norway," he said.
AID catapult with a strong team behind it
Kjell Reidar Mydske was the proud CEO of Smart Innovation Norway when he welcomed everyone to the opening of the AID catapult pilot.
"We will primarily help businesses, but also the public sector, harness what we call 'the new oil,' namely data. In the catapult, we are launching a data factory to process and prepare data, an AI clinic to show how to use AI in your own business model, and a simulator for faster development and testing of products and services. With these three services, we will help businesses compete at the international level," he said.
Gurill Mediaa has been entrusted with the responsibility of leading the AID catapult. She looks forward to helping businesses and public actors develop services and products, as well as creating digital value-added services on top of existing products.
"This is an exciting and important task. We look forward to getting started on the mission we have been given and achieving the goals we have set," says Mediaa.
She emphasizes that the AID catapult is part of an ecosystem and has many competent partners on its team.
Siva's catapult program provides the framework for a good starting point, together with Næringshagen i Østfold, DigiCat in Ålesund/ ÅKP, Cluster for Applied AI, Halden Næringsutvikling, the visualization and simulation company Augment City/OEC, Institutt for Energiteknikk (IFE), Digital Norway/Nemonoor, the AI company Chronos and UiT Norges arktiske universitet avd. Narvik.
"If you're curious about what AID catapult is, please get in touch. I would love to show you the simulator and the possibilities in AI, digital twins, and data sharing," says Gurill Mediaa.