The Nordics and their Technology Innovations
Global companies like Spotify, SoundCloud and Angry Birds creator Rovio Entertainment have something in common – they’re all part of the burgeoning Nordic tech scene.
Individually, the contributions that Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland have made to technology are extremely impressive.
However, combined together as a region, their achievements are nothing short of mind-blowing, and made even more notable when you consider that even with five countries, the total population only stands at just over 27 million.
Undoubtably, Denmark’s biggest contribution to the web has been in programming, with the creators of C++ and Ruby on Rails both hailing from its shores.
C++ was created by Bjarne Stroustrup and is the foundation for operating systems for pretty much everything including; servers, mobile phones, routers, databases, cars and airplanes. While, the open source Ruby on Rails from David Heinemeier Hansson is the foundation that Twitter, Github and Shopify have been built on.
Finland have made their own major open source contributions with the development of Linux one of the most prominent examples of free and open source software collaboration, with the author Linus Torvalds going on to develop Git. Nokia was at the forefront of technological innovation in the nineties, and they are also home to Rovio, the team behind Angry Birds, one of the best selling paid apps of all time. Helsinki is now a hot-bed of exciting startups, with Supercell leading the charge and is increasingly staking a claim and challenging Berlin and London to being Europe’s dominant startup hub.
However, Sweden possesses a City which could arguably be considered already on a par with those two in Stockholm. Birthplace of iZettle, and Spotify, Sweden is also widely regarded as the number one game producers in the world, including Mojang, makers of Minecraft, and King.com the leaders in the social gaming space, and producers of Candy Crush. Sweden, along with Denmark, were also a prominent part of the beginning of Skype, and they also share the origins of MySQL the worlds most popular open sourced database with Finland.
In Norway, technology has been used to utilise safe drinking water, and Vosswater have established themselves as the leader in cutting-edge water innovation. Norway also gave birth to Siri, the personal assistant software developed by Dag Kittlaus, and subsequently sold to Apple in 2010 for a rumoured $200 million. The Norwegian software company Opera produce the worlds most popular cloud-assisted mobile web browser.
Natural air conditioning, 100% renewable energy and their undersea fibre optic lines have also made it a prime location for data storage, with International companies beginning to host their data there, despite being thousands of miles away.
Nordic tech: Encouraging ambition
Just as capital enables innovation, having the right national mentality ensures a consistent flow of people willing to make the most of it.
Nordic educational institutions receive universal praise for their efficacy and ability to consistently inspire productive members of society.
In relation to Nordic tech, Scandinavian schools have proved invaluable in moulding proactive entrepreneurs from an early age.
Kids are taught in school that it’s important to contribute to the world in a meaningful and lasting way. Then they are given the confidence to do that and, more importantly, people in Finland genuinely want to do that. At their universities, students are taught how to be entrepreneurs and are encouraged to start businesses – it’s thought of as a great thing to do rather than a crazy thing.
In a 2020 report concerning the world's best educational systems, Denmark topped the list, rated highly in all five of the study's key indicators.
Finland came second, ahead of the US and all other EU countries other than its Nordic contemporary.
Among the most exciting Danish start-ups are Vivino, a mobile app featuring a user-submitted database of wine with reviews, average prices and ratings with 31 million users; and Airtame, a streaming dongle that allows users to easily and wirelessly broadcast from their computer to any screen or projector with an HDMI port.
In biotech, Orpazyme ApS is developing innovative treatments for life-threatening genetic disorders.