The most innovative countries in the world. Come see us.

Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland (and Australia and Canada) had the highest internet penetration/usage per capita in the world back in the early 1990s when it all took off. At the time I was a business analyst and spent a lot of effort trying to understand why.

Finally I know:  it’s because it was social.

It’s human nature to want to engage with others, and if you think about the geography and demographics of the above countries, there are a lot of people who are physically isolated from each other and/or the world. If you have to drive 80 km to the nearest library, it makes sense to search for your information online. If you have to drive 80 km to meet up with your peers after work, it makes sense to engage with them on Facebook or Twitter instead. (Especially right now, when there are extreme temperatures (on either end of the scale) in all of the above countries.)

There are many lists of innovative countries provided by various consulting groups and government and independent research groups. There is never a completely unbiased view; it all depends on the metrics. But it is remarkable that all lists, regardless of the research parameters, list the above countries who were Internet early adopters, in the top tier.

What is the Nordics secret sauce of innovation?

Those who say “it cannot be done” are interrupted by somebody already doing it

Sweden – and most Nordic countries – are not necessarily innovation-friendly in terms of startups. But if you are driven by the passion of your idea, and not just by a narrowminded focus on making profit early on, there is a pool of extremely well educated people, the Born Digital Generation, who take nothing for granted, and who just do it. Take a look at the list below to show just a few remarkable Nordics innovation achievements.

Want to be innovation-inspired?

Here’s my suggestion: join the Born Digital Generation in the Nordics on one of these upcoming social media events (listed below). And feel free to ping me @echristensen42 with more events so that the list can be expanded.

Increasingly, these events are not your standard-shelfware of conferences with speakers pitching their products or showcasing their own brilliance. The Born Digital Generation wants to own the discussion and even decide on the agenda through crowdsourcing – or in this case Friendsourcing. These people already know each other – through social media. The events are just a chance to have some facetime.

         
Iceland Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference http://www.rimc.is/en/ March 21-22 Great lineup of visionary speakers
Sweden SSMX – Sweden Social Media Exchange www.ssmx.se February 22-24 Unconference – agenda is friendsourced
Sweden SSWC – Sweden Social Web Camp http://www.swedensocialwebcamp.com/ August 15 – 18 Unconference – 450 creative minds on an island.
Norway Webforum http://web-forum.no/ March 14-15 Setting the stage for social in Norway
         

And here’s a reminder – a list of Nordic innovators you may or may not know were… Nordic (thanks to @dortetoft and Thomas Madsen-Mygdal for the comprehensive list):

  • Linux was invented by Linus Torvalds (Finland)
  • C++ was created by Bjarne Stoustrup (Denmark)
  • Microsofts C# (C Sharp) and so also the .Net-platform came from Anders Hejlsberg (Denmark)
  • PHP-scripting was created by Rasmus Lerdorf (Denmark)
  • MySQL was invented by a Finn and a Swede (not sure of their names, can anyone help?)
  • Ruby on Rails – we can thank David Heinemeier Hansson (Denmark)
  • Opera was built in Norway and Iceland (not sure of their names, can anyone help?)
  • Linus Torvalds (Finland) gave us GIT
  • The Danish company Umbraco provides the CMS-system on the Microsoft platform ( Niels Hartvig)
  • Skype was invented by a Dane and a Swede (Janus Friis, Niklas Zennström)
  • Oh, and don’t forget Spotify (Sweden), Angry Birds (Rovio-Finland) and Minecraft (Sweden)

More references:

http://bizzen.blogs.business.dk/2013/01/28/it-ivaerksaetter-norden-gor-det-godt-men-for-smat/

http://www.swedishtradehistory.com/Assignments/From-circular-to-the-internet/

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/cmr12/international/icmr-5.07

http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/gii/main/2012rankings.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-03/switzerland-sweden-are-world-s-most-innovative-countries.html

http://www.ideaconnection.com/blog/2012/07/highlighting-the-worlds-most-innovative-countries/

http://www.wired.co.uk/topics/wired-european-startups

Good people to follow if you want to be on top of Nordics innovation (feel free to add to list – ping me):

@annika

@hampusbrynolf

@trulytherese

 

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