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Students mapping a new market and giving companies unique insight

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Collaboration with St Olaf College in Minnesota celebrates 5 years of internships for students working on company specific projects; giving unique, fresh perspectives.

 

An important goal for Norway Health Tech since the start in 2009 has been to bridge R&D, talents and the industry. The cluster has therefore worked closely with universities and colleges around the country and internationally to bring students and innovative health companies together.

One collaboration like this is the one between St Olaf College in Minnesota, USA, NLA University College in Norway, Aleap and Norway Health Tech and this year we celebrated the fifth anniversary of internships.

The students were selected by their respective schools from different disciplines. The students from Minnesota came to Norway and were teamed up with Norwegian students from NLA, studying business.

Norway Health Tech, with more than 280 members, invited the company members to define their challenge. After selecting the challenges and companies among the applicants, the students were assigned to a company and their defined project for them to work on. They worked in teams of 4 and 5 each, and the internship would last for four weeks.

This year, the companies RemovAid and Observe Medical were selected. They were both interested in US market variables, trends, and scope including market size/segmentation before going on with their own plans for the world largest medical device market. A key for both companies was the dynamics of this complex market.

We kicked it off with a presentation at Oslo Science Park, where both Aleap, RemovAid and Norway Health Tech are located. This also became the site where the students worked, for both projects.

The work was done by both the American and Norwegian students, but due to a pressing schedule at school, the final presentations were done by the St Olaf students. We were truly impressed by what they had been working on. Emily stated that the projects were very open with only a loosely described goal and that allowed them to define the direction. The companies were open, letting the students decide what to include and what to leave out. This made it possible to apply their best skills and secure the best result, Emily concluded. The findings presented in the final presentation gave us good insight into what the American medical device market is on a general level, but also specifically into the niches the companies are working.

The companies were very pleased with the result of the student work. The enthusiasm, dedication and engagement from the students were contagious and gave the projects good energy. Also, the students were intelligent and motivated, as well as invested in the projects.

“Overall, this has been a great experience. All of the students are bright and motivated. They showed interest in our product and how it functions. They asked good questions and were able to come up with a project that helped give us an interesting overview on the US market.”

Valerie Robertson, RemovAid

Through research the students compiled valuable insight into a market that is complex and very different to the European market. They mapped out the structure for procurement and reimbursement as well as the market size and specifics. They were also able to find numbers that indicated a strong growth in the device market in the years to come.

The St Olaf students front from left: Emily, Estee, Gabriel and Abhinab. Behind Bjørn Larsson from Observe Medical, Anita Moe Larsen from Norway Health Tech and Valerie Robertson from RemovAid

The students from Minnesota; Emily, Estee, Gabriel and Abhinab were busy while in Norway. The internship lasted for 4 weeks and the projects kept them occupied. But they also made time to visit the sights in Oslo, getting to know the city a bit. Gabriel and Abhinab made a special visit to the Fram and Kontiki museum, as Gabriel’s father is a big fan of Thor Heyerdahl. Not a bad thing to say while visiting Norway, we thought. Estee had family in Drammen and got to meet them and attend the opening of her uncle’s art gallery. While Emily was getting ready to see Tromsø before returning to school. But, they concluded, life in Norway is not that different to Minnesota, it being the most Norwegian influenced state in the US. I guess that means they felt quite at home, and that is always a good thing.

We hope they will all come back to visit us when the time is right.

The companies that take on student projects have to be prepared to be a host and set aside enough time to follow up the work. They must be available for questions and guidance in order to get the best results for both students and company.

But as, Valerie from RemovAid said when we asked if she’d take on student projects again: “I would definitely host a student again. I think it is a valuable process, not only for them; but also for us as a company. They have a unique, fresh perspective and it was a pleasure to engage with them.”

Top picture: The students from St Olaf College and NLA University College that have collaborated on the company projects.

Are you interested in student projects? Let us know! Contact Anita, Norway Health Tech

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