Norway’s Crown Prince And Princess Talk Startups And Try Out The Oculus Rift

Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon and his wife Princess Mette-Marit were in Silicon Valley this week, and I asked them about their hopes to bring more startups and innovation to their home country.

I interviewed Haakon and Mette-Marit at Norway’s Innovation House Silicon Valley, a co-working space in Palo Alto for Norwegian startups looking to enter the US market. The couple saw demos from several startups — the prince even tried on some Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles — it was part of Making View‘s demo of its technology for capturing and exploring 360-degree video footage. (He said it was “pretty awesome.”)

Haakon actually lived in the Bay Area a decade ago, when he was attending UC Berkeley. He told me that he also attended the opening of the Innovation House 18 months earlier — since then, it has been used by more than 25 companies. Norway is “constantly trying to foster a culture of innovation,” he said.

When I asked what kind of relationship they would like to see between Norway and Silicon Valley, Mette-Marit said:

I think it’s important that we have this house as a starting point. But obviously, we also have examples of companies that have been doing very good here before this house came … I think that’s important that you have some companies that have done well and are willing to take on a sort of mentoring role for the other companies coming after.

I didn’t get a chance to go into too much depth with the couple, but I thought it was interesting to see them discussing these issues at all. The video concludes with a short interview and demo of technology from Elliptic Labs, one of the companies at the Innovation House. It’s developing gesture-based controls, sort of like Leap Motion, but designed to integrate with tablets and smartphones.

By the way, you might notice that I usually refer to the crown prince and princess in the third person. That’s because I was told that’s the polite way to address royalty, though I suspect I still messed it up somehow.