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Norwegian startups look to Canada to expand business

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit walk with Governor-General David Johnston in Ottawa on Monday.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

As the federal government works to attract more foreign investment, Norway's Crown Prince Couple says Scandinavian startup companies already see Canada as an attractive market to launch and grow their businesses.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit are visiting Canada this week to strengthen relations between Norway and Canada, including in the startup sector. In an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail, the royal couple said Norwegian companies are eager to work with the Toronto startup scene.

"The startup scene in Norway is also here [in Canada] to learn how you work on innovation and creating new companies in Canada because I think we have a lot to learn from the model that you are using," Crown Prince Haakon said.

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"There's many things going on here and it's a vibrant community for your startup scene."

The Crown Prince's comments come less than a week after the government committed to launch an Invest in Canada Hub to entice foreign investment. It was just one measure adopted by Ottawa on the recommendation of its Advisory Council on Economic Growth, chaired by Dominic Barton, global managing director of the consultancy McKinsey & Co. The government also plans to create an infrastructure bank aimed at attracting private investment and adopt changes to speed up the processing of high-skilled temporary foreign workers, as recommended by the growth council.

Crown Prince Haakon said Norwegian startups, especially those in the country's growing medical technology sector, see a lot of benefits to working in the Canadian market. He said Norwegian companies find comfort in Canada's societal values, which are similar to Norway's, and its shared geography, with both countries being "quite far north."

"Canada is a very diverse and interesting society where I think a lot of Norwegian startups find a good fit for starting their business, to growth their business also abroad, beyond Norway," he said.

In addition to the med-tech sector, Crown Prince Haakon said there is also an opportunity for Canada and Norway to explore startup partnerships in the areas of climate and environment.

As a part of their four-day visit to Canada, the royal couple will meet with Canadian and Norwegian startup companies in Toronto and visit the MaRS Centre to learn about the city's startup sector on Tuesday. Princess Mette-Marit said the couple is looking forward to meeting Norwegian entrepreneurs who are inspiring others to do business in Canada.

"When one company comes … [it's] much easier for other companies to follow along and I think that's what we're seeing in Toronto at the moment," Princess Mette-Marit said.

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The Crown Prince and Princess started their visit Sunday in Ottawa, where they had dinner with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie. On Monday, they met with Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall and participated in a seminar on the Arctic. While in Toronto, they will also take part in a number of Norwegian cultural events. The final leg of their trip to St. John's focuses on Canada and Norway's shared interests in the Arctic and oil and gas industries.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Michelle Zilio is a reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau. Previously, she was the associate producer of CTV’s Question Period and a political writer for CTVNews.ca. Michelle has also worked as a parliamentary reporter for iPolitics, covering foreign affairs, defence and immigration, and as a city desk reporter at the Ottawa Citizen. More

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