MADC Secures Business Leads During a Trade Mission to Norway

Posted: Dec 02 2016
Through a growing partnership with the North Dakota Department of Commerce and UND’s Center for Innovation, the Minot Area Development Corporation joined North Dakota’s delegation on a recent trip to Norway, November 11-18th. The trade mission to Norway consisted of the 2016 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Nordic Conference in Oslo and several business meetings that led to multiple business leads for our Magic City.
MADC was awarded the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Partners in Marketing Grant to help fund the trade mission to Norway. The North Dakota Department of Commerce awards the Partners in Marketing Grant to local economic developers for business recruitment, workforce recruitment, and other specific uses; the grant covers up to 90% of the total activity and the trade mission to Norway was a perfect example for business recruitment efforts.  With a new strategic plan implemented in 2016, one of MADC’s objectives includes expanding state-wide partnerships- and the trade NorwayTradeMission2016.jpgmission to Norway did just that! Although Grand Forks, ND is a top location for the UAS industry, MADC’s recent partnerships allowed MADC to promote Minot as a second location of choice for expanding UAS businesses. 
In addition to the conference, the Friendly International Consult facilitated several businesses meetings for MADC. The biggest highlights during the trip to Norway consisted of business meetings with Robot Aviation and eSmart.
Robot Aviation is a Norwegian based company, who recently opened an office in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Founded in 2008, Robot Aviation provides complete, integrated commercial drone systems, operating software, cloud-based planning, processing and reporting. Robot Aviation is a leading innovative company that develops UAS and services for the civilian and military market.
eSmart, also a Norwegian based company and current partner of Robot Aviation, provides utility analytics to detect fault. eSmart also has the ability to process huge data flows, accommodate massive changes due to market dynamics and the need for high quality systems, and is developing the next generation smart grid software.  eSmart has worked with Microsoft before and is very excited for the potential opportunity to do analytics in the U.S. market. Minot’s delegation joined eSmart for a whole day and gained a better understanding of their operations and how truly innovative they are. “eSmart capitalizes on amazing young talent to create new ways of providing solutions in the drones industry. eSmart’s capabilities are also way beyond what we’ve seen and experienced in the U.S. There is certainly immense opportunities for eSmart to enter the U.S. market, and Minot would be a perfect partner,” explained Stephanie Hoffart, President/CEO of MADC.
With the help of the Friendly International Consult and Bjorn Forsdal, President of Robot Aviation USA, the trade mission to Norway established realistic business opportunities for Minot. In addition to the conference and business meetings with Robot Aviation and eSmart, MADC met with several other businesses as well. The trade mission to Norway built on MADC’s current partnerships and also created new relationships and new opportunities with UAVs.
“This is a perfect time for Minot to get involved in the UAV/UAS industry. There are big opportunities for BVLOS (beyond-visual-line-of-sight) for military and commercial uses, Europe has already achieved those opportunities and it’s gaining momentum in the U.S. With North Dakota’s great open air and business friendly regulations, Minot has a great opportunity. UAV/UAS is meant for rural communities, less populated regions, open air, and open land; there’s no better place than Minot, ND,” stated Stephanie Hoffart. MADC’s delegation to Norway included Mayor Chuck Barney, Matt Dunlevy (President/CEO of SkySkopes and client of MADC), Stephanie Hoffart, Alan Walter, and Jay Fisher.