The Simula Garage opens new branch at OsloMet

The Simula Garage, or Gründergarasjen, is a work space and competence centre where entrepreneurs can get their businesses started for free. The Garage is expanding and opened a new branch at OsloMet yesterday, April 25.

Last year, Simula and OsloMet announced the establishment of the Center for Digital Engineering. The close collaboration between the two institutions has been further cemented by this week's opening of the second branch of the Simula Garage.

The history of the Simula Garage

When Simula started in 2001, scientific and educational activities began immediately, however, building a business out of research results was unfamiliar terrain for most Simula employees. The Simula Garage was established for the purpose of fostering innovation at Simula. By bringing in entrepreneurs that could sit and work on their project for free in a dedicated working space in middle of the Simula, the idea was that the spirit of entrepreneurship would germinate and take root in the Simula culture.

Five years later, the Garage has fulfilled this purpose. Simula is co-owner in 17 start-ups, and many of these have sprouted from the Garage. Today, there are 37 active projects in the Garage and in total, over 90 entrepreneurs work on these projects. More than 200 entrepreneurs have received guidance, a place to work, and a jump start on their project in the Garage. 

From the opening of the new Garage at OsloMet. Photo: Simula/Bård Gudim

Entrepreneurs lounge at the new premises at OsloMet.

Cultivation of start-ups at OsloMet

The new branch at Oslo Metropolitan University will invite in student innovation from the broad range of technology subjects available at OsloMet. Director of the Simula Garage Christian Bjerke states:

-- We will welcome any computer based project, but the main emphasis will be on ICT related innovation. We want to primarily cultivate companies at OsloMet in the early stages, however external projects are also welcome to apply. We want to help researchers and students commercialise the technology they develop. We also want to bring students, researchers and entrepreneurs together.

The Garage is funded by Simula and OsloMet, and supported by the municipalities of Oslo and Akershus through a regional innovation programme. The goal of the Garage is to allow companies the space and resources to build their first prototype, and to then start selling it and move out of the incubator.

-- We try to motivate entrepreneurs to make sales early, as this enables growth. We have even brought in a good, old fashioned sales bell, which the start ups can ring when they have made a sale, Bjerke states.

Left: Curt Rice rings the Garage sales bell. Right: Christian Bjerke. (Photo: Simula/Bård Gudim)

Left: Curt Rice rings the Garage sales bell. Right: Christian Bjerke.

Professor Aslak Tveito, CEO of Simula is entusiastic about the new branch:

--There is room for about 25 companies at the new premises at OsloMet. The concept will be the same at both locations; employees, students and others connected to OsloMet will receive support to develop their idea. The collaboration has been created through entusiastic teamwork, and it has every opportunity to encourage increased innovation based on scientific research both at Simula and OsloMet.

Rector Curt Rice, Head of CDE Professor Olav Lysne, and CEO of Simula Professor Aslak Tveito. (Photo: Simula/Bård Gudim)

Rector Curt Rice, Head of CDE Professor Olav Lysne, and CEO of Simula Professor Aslak Tveito.

-- OsloMet wishes to take a more defined and proactive role with innovation and entrepreneurship in the educational sector. The great ideas that are developed at OsloMet and the research that is conducted, should provide value to society. The Simula Garage @ OsloMet will create a culture for innovation and give our entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed, says Curt Rice.

What the Garage offers

The Simula Garage is an incubator working with companies at the earliest stages of development. The Garage offers free office space for collaboration and development of projects. They also offer free legal and business development advice, a community of other entrepreneurs and a number of other perks. Expert Feedback Sessions are regularly hosted at the Garage where members can receive general advice on their company, and ask questions. The Simula Garage recently organised a Hackathon where groups of entrepreneurs and researchers spent three days of intensive work on a project of their choice.

If you have an idea for your own tech start-up, and you're looking for a working space and resource centre, you can send in your application to the Simula Garage at grundergarasjen.no.

Students, entrepreneurs and friends of the Garage celebrate the opening of the new branch at OsloMet. (Photo: Bård Gudim)

Students, entrepreneurs and friends of the Garage celebrate the opening of the new branch at OsloMet.

All photography: Bård Gudim