Stronger focus on student consultants
The number of student consultants in SEB incubator has increased from four to 16 over the past year. While SEB provides local, professional advice, the NHH students provide free consultancy services.
‘Farmforce has found working with Start NHH incredibly useful. There’s always lots of things a start-up can and should be doing. Having the extra manpower has given us greater flexibility and the possibility to delve deeper into things that are important in the longer term, but that might not be a priority in day-to-day work,’ says Henrik Sandal, Head of Business Development in Farmforce.
The agritech company he works for has just completed its year at the SEB ScaleCenter, a free incubator for sustainable growth companies. Four companies – Glint Solar, ONNA, Ocean Oasis and Innomar – are now affiliated to the incubator at their premises on Aker Brygge.
The student group Start NHH has collaborated with SEB ScaleCenter since the incubator was established in early 2020. Start NHH is an interest group that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship among NHH students and in Bergen in general.
Work ten hours a week for free
‘No one told us how we were to collaborate with the companies. We had to find a reason why they should prioritise spending time with us. We started by mapping our own capacity, expertise and interests before matching them up with the companies’ needs through dialogue with their management,’ says Daniel Berlin, NHH student and head of the group ‘SEB ScaleCenter Remote Workforce’.
‘What started out as a small experiment gradually developed into a method, and we have now increased the number of consultants times four. All the students work up to ten hours a week each.'
The student group has expanded from four to 16 consultants over the past year, and they now offer one working group per company. While SEB provides the premises, network and professional advice, the students do everything from preparing market, strategy and competitive analyses to investor presentations and acquisition proposals. The incubator also gives the companies access to legal advice from Simonsen Vogt Wiig, and guidance and culture building from GetHUMAN.
‘Start NHH has given us access to highly skilled, competent and, not least, engaged students. They have provided specific analyses and helped us to understand the market we operate in and our competitors better. Start NHH has been nothing but positive for the company,’ says Sandal from Farmforce.
Win-win for everybody
The initiative for SEB ScaleCenter came from business graduate Johannes Breivik, who went on to start it up. The idea behind it is to be able to work with and learn from the best start-ups in sustainability in Norway. The companies in the incubator are typically looking for NOK 20 to 70 million in funding. It’s often more difficult to get these kinds of sums than it is to get NOK 200 to 700 million, Breivik tells us.
The former NHH student has nothing but praise for the collaboration with the students:
‘It has been excellent and much better than expected. The most important benefit for SEB is that the companies in the incubator are satisfied and share their experience with other start-ups. The students have also written papers that the bank has benefited from, such as mapping of fish farming companies', and adds:
‘We also see that the students find the collaboration valuable. For example, one of the students went from having no work experience to securing a permanent job in Farmforce. That shows that the ScaleCenter works!'
All the students get a reference from SEB after one year in the working group. Fourth and fifth year students are also guaranteed an initial interview for a summer internship, where they get to work on finance in SEB and on innovation in the incubator.
Popular student group
More than 100 students applied for admission to Start NHH this autumn. The majority were most interested in the SEB working group,’ says Daniel Berlin. The students in this popular group come from different stages of their studies: some already have management experience, while others are still in their first year. However, they all share an interest in and passion for innovation, start-ups and consultancy.
‘As the project has developed, we have gradually gained the opportunity to pick from among a large range of qualified candidates. They are generally assessed along two axes, where engagement and capacity are as important as experience and expertise. I tend to look for someone with a high score on both fronts for team leaders. We try to put together teams where the members complement each other,’ says Berlin.