Telenor to invest €5m in IoT networks and AI lab in Norway

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Telenor has announced plans to launch a multi-city internet of things (IoT) network and a new artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Norway.

The Norway-based operator said it will launch dedicated IoT networks in several cities, and allow free access to start-ups and students to develop and test their products and services. The first pilot will be located in the capital, Oslo, in collaboration with StartupLab.

As well, in collaboration with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and research institute SINTEF, Telenor will establish a lab focused on AI and big data at NTNU campus in the Trondheim.

Research at the NTNU lab will take data from the new IoT networks, and work with industry, academia and the start-up community. SINTEF will oversee the lab’s integration with local industry at large, Telenor said.

The new initiatives are intended to run for five years, at the outset, and cost in the region of at least NOK50 million (€5.38 million).

Sigve Brekke, President and Chief Executive of Telenor, said: "We need to build critical competencies within artificial intelligence and we want to give Norwegian start-ups the resources they need to succeed. This is imperative for our ability to seize digital opportunities and contribute to creating new jobs. 

“Start-ups play a key role in net job creation. We aim to stimulate productivity in Norway by developing new competencies and supporting the startup community.”

Telenor has accelerator programmes for start-ups in eight of its markets, and has so far provided support for 70 new businesses in 2016.

Per Einar Dybvik, a partner at StartupLab, said: “IoT is changing everything. With the availability of tiny, affordable sensors, we observe how today’s start-ups assume all products will be connected to the internet at some point. This is why providing them with cost-free access to a next-generation IoT network from Telenor is of critical importance.”