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Entrepreneur award for investment in data centers at sea

Entrepreneurs in Kristiansand want to reduce the huge consumption of power in the data center industry. This led to victory in the Sustainable Business Idea Competition 2023.

The final was held during the DNB NXT/Sustainable Business Idea Competition event in Kristiansand. About 100 spectators were gathered when a number of entrepreneurs met investors and the company Orca Connex won the competition.

Will use seawater for cooling

- The world's data centers account for 3 percent of the world's total power consumption and are growing rapidly. Around 40 percent of energy consumption is used for cooling," say entrepreneurs Andreas H. Næss and Stian Westbye, who were both surprised and delighted when the jury named them the winners of this year's competition. The founders have acquired a large team of partners and will explore the possibility of having data centers at sea, where seawater is used for cooling.

As winners, they will receive up to NOK 150,000 in support for further investment. The partners behind the competition are Kristiansand Municipality through Business Region Kristiansand, DNB, BDO and Agder County Council.

- "Innovation is important for business development and we are very pleased to see that there are many entrepreneurs with good sustainable ideas, as well as great interest in what is happening in the Start-up environment in Southern Norway," said Stein Otto G. Daatland, Business Region Kristiansand.

Praised by Norway's "Start -Up godfather"

DNB NXT and Sustainable Business Idea Competition was this year's Techpoint track for entrepreneurship with StartUps, growth companies, investors and established businesses. The event featured speakers such as Maria Archontoulis, Head of startup and partnerships at DNB, Preben Songe-Møller from Skyfall Ventures, and not least Norway's Start-Up godfather" Rolf Assev.

Rolf Assev has helped Norwegian tech companies through his role as an entrepreneur and partner in Startuplab, and over 12 years he has helped invest in more than 300 of them.

- "This was great and the best presentations I've heard in a long time," Assev said of the finalists and has already arranged meetings with some of them.

In collaboration with DNB, a number of investors were also invited to meet innovative companies from the region. Both young entrepreneurial companies and growth companies from Agder had short first-time meetings with investors during the event. Skyfall Venture, Startuplab, Oxidane Ventures, Gumpen Invest and Skagerak Capital were all present to hear about concepts under development.

"An incredible learning experience"

Jeanette Tharaldsen met Preben Songe-Møller from Skyfall Venture to talk about welfare technology that is currently being developed. Tharaldsen heads the company Aiveao, which develops smart software and helps people with dementia by using artificial intelligence to interpret the needs and signs of pain in people with cognitive impairment.

- "This was an incredible learning experience! I got valuable feedback and new relationships," she said.

Vivian Wam Fjell, founder of the company Vivid-Edtech, also met with various investors. The entrepreneurial company from Kristiansand is developing new solutions for digital meetings.

- "I gained insight into how investors think, so it was inspiring. Being part of the speed date is a great opportunity to meet local and national investors and I have already arranged another meeting with one of the investors at the event," she said. 

Among others, she met Kristine Gumpen, from Gumpen Invest. 

- "It was great fun to get to know exciting local companies with business ideas that use technology to solve problems in a sustainable way," Gumpen concluded.

See photos from the event