Innovation Norway now offers 10 hours of free mentoring

Description of the mentorship scheme is courtesy of my partner Jan Sollid Storehaug» Read more about Jan and his lecture here(link to

In conjunction with Covid-19, Innovation Norway has expanded mentorship, offering innovative businesses a mentor who helps your business with urgent help for up to 10 hours.

They promise express processing of the application and you can apply online.

The questions you need to answer are:

1) To what extent is your product or service unique in relation to what is already in the market

2) Describe the most urgent areas (max two) you need help with right now, such as control of liquidity, legal help, finding new markets/product mix, digitizing of today’s products or the like.

(Note that you cannot apply as a sole proprietorship.)

This mentoring is in addition to the regular mentoring service.

“If you have any questions about what it means to use a mentor or want to get in touch with me as a possible mentor, you are welcome to call me or send an email to”
Ronny A. Nilsen
Phone 9280 4155

You can suggest the choice of mentor

Innovation Norway process the application and if it is approved they pass it on to Connect West. They are national mentors and have been commissioned by Innovation Norway connect you with a suitable mentor. They have a large network of mentors from business, research, education, finance and others , both nationally and internationally.

Once you receive an email from Connect that you have received a yes to your application by Innovation Norway, you will be asked to create your company profile in Crowdworks.

If you want me or someone else you’ve already established a relationship with, like your mentor, you can tick the box for the desired mentor. You do this in your profile under the field “mentor ask”.

Crowdworks is used by Connect Vest for all communication and reporting, but is also useful for other purposes, e.g. linking with potential investors.

Connect West connects many cases a day, so they need to have all the info into Crowdworks to keep track.

If you do not have any desire for a particular mentor, the department closest to your company will find a suitable mentor, determined by what you have written in your application. Depending on where your business is registered, it is sent to Connect Vest’s local partners. These in turn have an overview of local resources and candidates who can assist as a mentor.

In Eastern Norway, ICT Norway manages the mentoring scheme, In Møre og Romsdal, Innlandet and Trøndelag Connect Midtnorge is responsible, while Connect Nordland is managed from Kunnskapsparken Bodø. In the south there is Connect Sørland.

Does that sound elaborate? The application is quickly done to write, the same applies to registration at Crowdworks. Once it’s done, you’re at it and can explore other opportunities at Innovation Norway.

Go straight to the application form

Established businesses can also seek mentoring

Note that for early-stage businesses it is possible to apply for both crisis mentor (10 hours) and strategic mentor (30 hours).

Established companies older than 5 years do not qualify for a strategic mentor, but can still apply for a crisis mentor if they are influenced by Covid-19.

Additional support

If you have not applied and received support from Innovation Norway in other contexts, applying and getting yes to these 10 hours may be a good start.

You can also get covered 30 hours in the ordinary scheme of coverage to a personal mentor of Innovation Norway.

You must not apply for a mentor, but may go straight to the application for grants for market clarification. Previously, this amount was NOK. 100,000, but it has now increased to 150,000 – with no self-funding requirements. If you qualify for grants, this is something many people get granted and certainly a good support to see if potential customers want what you offer.

Note that Innovation Norway now writes that the processing time is about 4 weeks for applications.

The next step for many is up to NOK 750,000 in grants for commercialisation – phase 1 for your start-up company.

New is also that Innovation Norway now offers grants for commercialization – phase 2.

In total you can get a total of NOK. 1,500,000 in support for your start-up. Please note that grants for commercialization require 25% self-financing, and Phase 2 requires a professional board and that you bring an external investor with you.

There are also a number of other schemes that may be applicable to you. First, get “Yes” for a mentor, or market clarification is well underway!

“Competitive lying” is often a reason for rejection

10 hours free mentor is a service that it should be easy to get yes to, quick treatment and easy to apply. Still, some get the No. My experience is that the rationale for those who get no is that your business is perceived as too similar to existing businesses and that you do not get support because it can give you advantages in the competition – that it is competitive.

Write cards, write precisely and keep this in mind while looking at what are basic prerequisites for you to get support from Innovation Norway, also to other schemes.

Basic prerequisites for support from Innovation Norway for your project.

A simple advice is to take the time to read you thoroughly on Innovation Norway’s website to better understand how Innovation Norway think and what kind of projects they support.

The basic criteria for supporting projects from Innovation Norway can be summarized as follows:

  • Entrepreneurs or start-up companies with business ideas that represent something substantially new in the market.
  • The target group is companies younger than 5 years. Companies younger than 3 years of age are given priority.
  • Should (often must) be limited companies, not sole proprietorships
  • Do you have a brand new idea with a brand new product or service that no one else has thought of?
  • Do you have a new way to solve a problem where you use existing solutions, put together in a new way?
  • Is it a new business with familiar products or services that you intend to deliver in a new way?
  • Is it scalable?
  • Does it have the minimum nationally, but preferably international potential?
  • The project must be innovative and have significant growth potential.
  • Innovation Norway considers the growth potential to be significant when the project has the opportunity to succeed in an international market.
  • Companies without particular growth potential are not supported.

Don’t qualify but still need a mentor?

As an hourly counselor, I take for ordinary assignments 1.750,- per hour. For a start-up, money may be well spent, but for many it is far off budget.

Through various support schemes for start-ups and by asking the right questions you can find a mentor, all for free.

Through my experience for over 30 years, I myself have received help from mentors and had the pleasure of being a mentor to many first-time entrepreneurs and others who need guidance.