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Juletre 03 02

This was 2021 in NCE Finance Innovation

And just like that, 2021 is all but over. Whether you have been deeply involved in the cluster this past year, or just begun scratching the surface, you’ve probably not got the full 360 view of all the activities and events the cluster has covered in the last 12 months. We don’t blame you – because a lot has happened!

Here’s a brief recap of 2021 in the cluster, and some teasers about the exciting things we have in store for you in 2022:

2021 has been the year where Finance Innovation has gone truly national, with an increasing number of members from most of the major cities in Norway. This year alone, we’ve grown with 23 new member companies, many of them from Trondheim, Oslo, and even the Nordics.

New cluster members in 2021

Our ambition is to be a fintech cluster for all of Norway, and that is why we're amping up our efforts to be present and host activities where our members are – be it Stavanger, Trondheim, Bergen, Oslo, Tromsø, or somewhere in between.

This national position is also founded in our strategy, which was revised through 2021 together with our board of directors, and after feedback and interviews from cluster members. Our three key focus areas going forward will be 1: Sustainability in finance as a competitive advantage, 2: Understand and take advantage of threats and opportunities created by relevant shifts, and 3: Commercialization, growth, and internationalization.

These strategic “lighthouses” will be implemented, evaluated, and adjusted throughout 2022-2024.

Increasing interest from students
Our members in academia are important contributors to most of the above-mentioned areas. They have continued to be active in the cluster this year, and we have been in contact with hundreds of students throughout 2021. UiB has visited our Fintech Hub on several occasions, with both students from Computer Science and their new ITØK program. Read more about ITØK here, in an interview conducted by our student interns from BI.

Students from ITØK visiting the Fintech Hub and listening to Quantfolio present a business case.

Overall, we’ve experienced an increasing interest from students to involve themselves in the fintech ecosystem and cluster. Together with NHHS Fintech, we established a summer internship program where we matched students with fintechs in the cluster during the summer, such as OPX. An NCE FI student group has also been established with ambitious and engaged students from UiB, NHH, HVL, and BI. This will be a massive resource for the cluster, both in terms of manpower and new initiatives towards boosting student entrepreneurship. Read more about the group here, and what they are planning for 2022.

An eventful year

We’re putting behind us another year filled with cluster events. Together with our members, we’ve done over 35 events and reached several thousand participants. Topics include KYC, AML, Open Banking, Sustainability, Nordic Fintech Trends, Marketing, Regtech, Reporting, AI, funding - and even some social networking when the situation allowed it.

Perhaps most notably, we did mcb tech for the 4th time together with our sister cluster NCE Media, reaching the record number of 1500 viewers worldwide.

The speakers at mcb tech .21
The speakers at mcb tech .21

...and a little teaser for next year
A small step for man, a giant leap for Norwegian fintech. Inspired by our colleagues in Sweden and Denmark and spurred on by Innovation Norway and Visit Norway, we figured it was about time that Norway arranged its very first Fintech Week. Many pieces are already in place, and we really look forward to sharing more information with you about this over the New Year.

Sustainability: less talk, more action
Another of our focus areas this year has been sustainable fintech. We have worked towards increasing our member's knowledge of the EU Taxonomy, ESG reporting, and how to implement sustainability in their business models. The clusters resource group in sustainability has also undergone a strategy process facilitated by Deloitte, where they defined what sustainability means for the cluster, which arenas we will focus on, and what we want to achieve going forward. We’re just getting started down this path, however, so if you feel the call to join us in this effort, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

One of our many cluster projects this year also has ties to sustainability. Together with Sparebanken Vest, Sparebanken Sogn & Fjordane, and we completed the first stage of building an ESG scoring model for their investment funds. You can read more in-depth about this and our other projects on our website, as well as our resource groups in Open Banking, KYC/AML, Sustainability, and Customer service.

Get in the Zone
Speaking of our website; we’re currently developing a "Member Zone" with exclusive access for cluster members, where you can download reports, re-watch events and courses, browse cluster benefits, and more. We’re also in the works of making both a Norwegian fintech mapping and a regulatory radar where members can look up regulations that are either being implemented in Norway or are on their way from the EU. Member Zone will be up and running sometime in Q1 2022, so make sure to check this out when the time comes.

No rest for the fintechs
It has been a great year for crowdfunding in general, and particularly for our members Dealflow and Folkeinvest. They've presented several of our members on their platforms, such as Horde, who for a while held the Norwegian crowdfunding record. Just like a ping-pong game, the crowdfunding record moved from one platform to the other, and then back again. For a while, Dealflows' campaign for Citybox smashed the record with 28MNOK, whilst Folkeinvests campaign for Way AS currently has taken back the record with its 31 MNOK (still ongoing). Last but not least, cluster member Kameo had ambitions to crowdfund real-estate loans for 1BNOK (!) in 2021, something they managed to do already in October 2021.

Norwegian fintech is second to none and is increasingly making its presence known on the international stage. A recurring theme in the news this year has been Norwegian fintechs going international, such as member companies Diggecard, Ticketco, Strise, and Firi to name a few. The strategy often involves mergers with smaller tech companies to have all the tools they need to scale into the Nordics. This has been the case for both Stacc and Signicat. Vipps has also taken a clear position within Nordic payments, leading the merger with Danish Mobile Pay and Finnish Pivo and placing their headquarters in Oslo.

From the EU with love
Additionally, NCE Finance Innovation submitted a proposal for the Horizon Europe project on secure digital identity together with Signicat and a European consortium. We´ll find out later this winter if the European Commission selects the project - fingers crossed!

Several of our members have also been supported in their applications for the EIC (European Innovation Council) Accelerator and other members have qualified to apply for a grant from the new support scheme "Women in Tech".

From the team
This year we got to welcome two new colleagues onboard the team; Roger and Torstein. We also had the pleasure of having four interns from HVL and BI choose Finance Innovation as their internship placement. We look forward to welcoming new interns in 2022.

The end...for now
Sorry for the long read, but this really is just the tip of the iceberg! With so much going on, it's almost hard to believe that nearly half of our time as a cluster has been happening under the shadow of a global pandemic. We are so grateful to all of our members that have been a part of our journey so far and made all of this happen. Stay safe and healthy, and we’re looking forward to an exciting new year in fintech with you all.

Christmas greetings from
Atle, Rea, Kristoffer, Håkon, Torstein and Roger