Executive Director Asbjørn Flo in Innovation Norway (right) and Sales Manager Export Kenneth Aas in Norsap at the Norsap office in Norway House in Houston.

With 35 offices around the world, Innovation Norway actively promotes and supports Norwegian small and medium sized enterprises abroad.

”We help reduce the risk and the time to market for Norwegian companies that expand internationally. Our international operation is important for value creation and job creation in Norway”, says Asbjørn Flo, Executive Director for Innovation Norway in Houston.

From his offices in Norway House, Flo and his colleagues, work to give Norwegian companies a ‘soft landing’ in a new market.

“In Houston alone, there are more than 5,000 companies in oil and gas. It is imperative to have someone knowledgeable to help you maneuver”, says Flo.

Innovation Norway can help find a business partner on behalf of the Norwegian company, provide market data and, in general, share knowledge about the market. SMEs, defined as companies with less than 250 employees and less than MEUR 50 in annual revenue, may make use of Innovation Norway’s services at half the regular price.

“We are not here to sell their products, but rather to make it easier for Norwegian companies to get started. Our Market Entry Programs create several leads for the participating companies. The more people you meet the more leads are generated – don’t be too picky with whom you talk too.  If you find the ‘champion’ who really sees the full potential of what you offer, ‘time to first contract’ might be reduced by as much as 50 percent”, says Flo.

The Market Entry Program is especially designed to assist Norwegian companies in meeting the right companies in a new region or country.

“Over a 12-14 months project period, we introduce Norwegian companies to relevant companies in the particular region or country. Here in Houston, the Americans love this. In just a couple of hours, they get to meet a number of Norwegian companies that are well prepared and give a well-rehearsed pitch. Following the presentations, bilateral meeting are set up”, says Flo.

NODE participant Norsap is one of many companies that have benefitted from Innovation Norway’s assistance. Norsap is one of 12 SMEs that have an office in Norway House.

“This gives us a network, a close relationship with Innovation Norway and a local business address. The latter is especially important for potential US clients”, says Sales Manager Export Kenneth Aas, who moved to Houston in 2015 to sell Norsap chairs designed for the oil and gas and maritime markets.

Approximately 200 Norwegian companies are established in Houston.

“Norwegian technology is highly regarded over here and hence you don’t need to spend time ‘selling’ the technology. Americans do not buy technology, they buy solutions to a problem or an opportunity they have. Spend your time showing how your technology adds value (in USD) to their company or their customers and how you mitigate risks involved. Americans are not awarded for adding risk to their operation. The Job is everything for many Americans and you will have a friend for life if you make them more successful in his or her job – or vice versa”, says Flo.