The High North Young Entrepreneur contest is an international pitch competition of Arctic-related business ideas of young entrepreneurs and start-ups. The overall goal of the contest is to bring attention to the economic potential and special needs of the High North areas and to encourage young people to develop their business ideas.

High North Young Entrepreneur logoThe contest final is a part of the program of the annual High North Dialogue conference in Bodø. At the final session, three finalists have an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to the several hundred conference participants on site, as well as well as to all the online participants, and to win financial funding for their business.

The prize is 50 000 NOK. Innovation Norway Nordland and High North Dialogue just signed an agreement that guarantees continued financing of the award for at least three more years. Read more here.

Contest background

The idea of the contest came after the High North Dialogue conference in 2017 when the prominent investor Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners received the High North Hero Award, in recognition of his efforts to highlight the economic potential of the Arctic by promoting long-term investment in the region. Scott Minerd donated the award money to a fund to support young entrepreneurs and their business ideas. Accordingly, Nord University Business School in cooperation with Bodø Science Park launched the High North Young Entrepreneur contest for young entrepreneurs and start-ups from all over the world.

The first contest final took place in 2018 during the High North Dialogue conference session where three young entrepreneur groups presented their Arctic business ideas to an auditory of experts in High North issues. The final session was recognized as an important part of the conference, and we, therefore, decided to continue with the High North Young Entrepreneur contest for the years to come.

From 2018, Innovation Norway Nordland supports High North Young Entrepreneur initiative including the funding of the prize for a winner in the amount of NOK 50 000.

Who can  apply?

Students with business ideas, companies and individual entrepreneurs from any country and sphere are eligible to apply; however, start-up owners or/and a business idea has somehow to be related to the circumpolar North.

We invite all entrepreneurs and start-ups from the Northern areas to participate, regardless of their project specifics. It may be an individual start-up or a company registered and operating in, for example, Bodø, Tromsø, Oulu, Anchorage. However, if you are located in more central areas and cities ( for example, Oslo, Moscow, Helsinki) but have a business idea connected to the Arctic, you are eligible to apply.

As the contest focuses on start-ups and new business ideas, the company must not be older than five years of the start-up date—age of the applicant – up to 40 years old.

We especially encourage projects from Bioeconomy, Clean Energy, Health and welfare, Ocean, Smart society, Creative industries, tourism, and the Green shift areas.

You do not need to be an organization to apply. We also accept applications from individuals, who have business ideas.

What is next?

The international committee consisting of experts from the areas of business and innovations will decide on three entrepreneurs that will be invited to Bodø to present their ideas at the High North Dialogue conference on April 19, 2023.

Three criteria will be considered:

  • Relevance to the North
  • Quality of the project application and business plan elements
  • The uniqueness/originality of the project idea.

Travel costs in connection to travel to Bodø will be covered for the selected finalists.

During the final session in Bodø, three entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas to compete for the first place. The High North Dialogue conference participants will vote for the best project in real-time, and the winner will be announced during at the conference dinner the same day. The prize to the winner idea is a check for 50 000 Norwegian crones. All finalists get diplomas for participation.


The High North Young Entrepreneur Jury 2023 consisted of the following experts:

  • Bjørg Helene Jenssen, Innovation Norway Nordland
  • Marianne Arntzen-Nordqvist, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Group, Nord University Business School
  • Maiken Nilsen Stensaker, project leader at Engage SFU, Nord University
  • Alexandra Middleton, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Elena Zhurova Sæather, Ph.d. / Researcher at High North Center / Nord University Business School, Norway
  • Frode Mellemvik, Director, High North Center, Nord University Business School, Norway

Previous winners

  • 2023 –  Norwegian Eagle AI, Bodø, Norway
  • 2022 – Wai Genetics, Tromsø, Norway
  • 2020 – Arctic Biotech Oath, Alaska, US
  • 2019 – 60 Hertz, Alaska, US
  • 2018 – The Growcer, Canada

More information

Please contact Elena Zhurova Sæther,  HNYE coordinator at the High North Center.