Foto: Jahn Nitshke

Mingle, Meet and Innovate

For one and a half day the core of the Tromsø creative industry got together in Clarion Hotel at the XN conference. It is an opportunity to learn from each other’s’ stories, to participate in creative seminars but most importantly; a chance to meet fellow entrepreneurs.

Text: Mark de Hoop

The speakers ranged from representatives of ‘Innovasjon Norge’ to the creators of a movie about a lost snowboard community. Participants agreed that it is of great value to learn the story of a business or project. By seeing the process you understand which problems the speakers faced along the way and how they tackled them. Jorg Hauan, who spoke about gaming technology, confessed that ‘this might not have been the ideal audience for what I had to say’. On the other hand, entrepreneurship drives the constant innovation and further integration of technology into every aspect of our lives. Cooperation with seemingly unlikely partners is sometimes closer than you would expect.

A couple of lectures later, the creative workshop hosted by Henriette Myrland and Kyrre Kalseth brought those who had slowly been slipping down their chairs whilst staring at their empty coffee cups back to life. ‘Imagine a future where all your basic needs are taken care of.’ The two creative entrepreneurs, and advisors to Innovasjon Norge, were brought in to provoke new ideas. The question to the group was: ‘With a basic income in place, what do you need to be creative, to excel in your work?’ It challenged people to take a step outside their thinking boxes. Confusing for some, refreshing for most. During the day, and night, I learned about different obstacles for innovation. In the very early stage of a business, when very little profit is made, taxation can be a big brake on development. By further shrinking the profits, it can kill business or force entrepreneurs to spend significant amounts of time on side jobs. Time and energy that they would rather have invested in further developing their creative product. On the other hand, we should not forget benefits of the same Nordic Welfare state that imposes these costs. Finding the best way to share the bill will be an everlasting debate. Later that day, Henriette explains how the game was a thought-experiment to remove all limitations on creativity. As opposed to innovation being constrained by making a living, a basic income would create room and freedom to experiment with new ideas.

Apart from Interesting stories and delicious food, the conference offers a platform to meet other entrepreneurs and potential partners. Reading ‘minglelunsj’ on the program brought to my mind memories of network events. Evenings I would leave with a hand sore of handshakes and a head spinning with elevator pitches.

Nothing of the kind. Almost everyone was curious and open. I met a choreographer with his girlfriend and we talked for 15 minutes about shamanism, local beliefs and religious tolerance in Northern Norway. Nevertheless, the plenty of business cards changed hands. It is easy to see that these meetings are an essential reason to attend conferences. Everyone has come to the conference with their own story, and interests. Locations like Tvibit are always scouting for new and interesting projects. Someone working at the county northern Norway explained to me that for her: ‘This is an opportunity to hear what the obstacles are for all the entrepreneurs. Whether there are things we should change about our frameworks so we can facilitate business.’

On the second day, Jahn and I were amongst the last ones to leave. We met Christine Cynn, co-director of ‘the Act of Killing’. This critically acclaimed documentary film blurs the borders between reality and fiction as they asked participants in 1965-66’ Indonesian killings to enact the past. In her next project she wants to ask people how they imagine their future. By letting them think about the future, they might change their ideas of what it can look like. This might bring about a change in the present, which in turn, changes the future! Next to being an entrepreneur, her ideas touch upon the core of what creative entrepreneurship is about. To learn from the past, engage with the present, imagine the future, and then innovate.