2020: Innovating during a pandemic
17 December 2020 - Impact Hub Bergen

Even though we are a centre of social innovation with the support of five strategic partners, our members, and the community of Bergen at large, we were not exempt from the financial and logistical challenges of 2020, like so many others throughout the world.

Coworking inherently brings people together for co-creation and collaboration. When a pandemic necessitates us to social distance and stay at home, the functionality of a coworking space is diminished. We acted in our community’s best interest and physically closed at times in 2020. At first, the weight of the pandemic forced our hand–we furloughed all four of our employees for a period.

There was a time for reflection, a time for introspection and a time to move forward within the frames of this new situation. We secured our financials by downsizing our space, and instead put our time and efforts this year on our digital impact, with new support from Innovasjon Norge. This reaction is at the heart of so many companies in Norway and the world: resources were reallocated, problems caused by the pandemic were being met with solutions, and companies persevered despite a previous dependence on physicality.

As the values ingrained in a space of innovation weighed heavily upon our shoulders, we were able to practice what we preach: we avoided the familiar frame we were used to and re-envisioned our programs in a digital world.

Once we embraced this mentality, we were able to reach more people and make a greater impact than ever before. In short, our activities in 2020 include:

  • Early in the year, we gathered 40 participants across the municipal sector for a half day workshop on systemic challenges in the field of mental health to map focus areas for Impact Challenge
  • In January, hosted several Klimafestivalen events including the “Toolbox for Environmental Action” workshop and Testbar’s event “Bærekraftig mat i Norge i dag”
  • In February, conducted a 6 week Social Innovation Camp, focusing on mental health, at Høgskolen på Vestlandet for 60 Public Health students
  • Facilitated a half day workshop on social innovation and mental health for 80 students at SoPro NTNU
  • Announced the winners of 2019 Impact Challenge program on Mental health

  • Recruited teams for the Incubation Phase of the Impact Challenge program starting in 2021
  • Collaborated with the ecosystem and delivered content for Innovasjonsuken Opp
  • Received funding from Innovasjon Norge for Social Impact Lab, which support entrepreneurs through online courses (now 35 films), a toolbox and “Impact Cast,” a podcast on social entrepreneurship launching next year
  • Attended Impact Hub Global’s Digital Global Gathering
  • Digitally facilitated the Skolemiljøkonferanse on “Livsmestring” for 270 students in 40 different locations spread across Vestland
  • Expanded our Testbar program to five participants with business development courses and industry mentorships
  • Testbar hosted a Live event  Matgründere om matsvinn”  with over 1000 views.

Despite a challenging time during the pandemic, many of our entrepreneurs have flourished this year…

  • Previous program participant Camilla S. Clausen and our previous Host and graphic designer Anna Rzymszkiewich celebrated Bergen’s 950 year anniversary with a special edition of their educational magazine Leseplaneten

  • The Q-Matredderprisen in August went to previous Impact Hub member, Ingrid Spord, the founder behind Mer Enn
  • One of the winners of last year’s Impact Challenge program, Fibrofokus, has now started a new clinic to treat patients with Fibromyalgia
  • LifePlanner, winners of the 2018 round of Impact Challenge, have now received 2.1 million NOK from 50 investors through crowdfunding
  • Previous member Papillon, won the “Jenteprisen” by Plan International Norway
  • Our members Kolbrun Retorikk were nominated for SRF Kuben’s Folkets Pris 2020 for their work on the podcast Tech Håp og Kjærlighet

Even as the digital revolution is cemented, physical coworking won’t disappear. Quite the contrary, 2020 has shown us that the lack of physicality of the digital world must be met with an occasional face to face conversation and collaboration, in safer times.

We will continue our vision in 2021 and we look forward to welcoming you digitally and physically in the New Year.

Thank you, our core partners Vestland Fylkeskommune, Bergen Kommune, Kavlifondet, Sparebanken Vest, Innovasjon Norge and Grieg Foundation; our amazing membership community, our competent board, our resilient team and everyone who innovated with the safety in mind in 2020.

God jul og godt nytt år til alle!


-The Impact Hub Bergen Team