Grete Odetaard (Norwegian deputy Ambassador), Derville Brennan (Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly), Ciaran Cullen (CEO Waterford City Enterprise Board), Jim Power (Economist/Friend’s First), Bertie Rogers (Chairman of Waterford City Enterprise Board), Tomas Hjelm (Swedish teacher) and Kjersti Schjelvaag Lian (Norwegian teacher).
30 Norwegian and Swedish students and 8 teachers visited Waterford City on the invitation of Ciaran Cullen CEO, Waterford City Enterprise board.
The students (18-19 years olds) are studying a 3-year entrepreneurship program, this is the student’s 3rdand last year and the Irish visit is the highlight of their year.
A full itinerary was planned for the group including visits to Waterford City enterprises, WIT, historical venues such as the Medieval Museum and on Tuesday March 12th they attended a private morning seminar. Held at the Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly the seminar included speakers Jim Power, economist with Friend’s First and the Norwegian Deputy Ambassador to Ireland, Grete Odegaard on topics such as Irish/Norwegian trade relations and how Ireland has dealt with the financial crisis.
This is the fourth year Waterford City Enterprise Board has hosted a Norwegian student group. Ciaran Cullen emphasised the importance of the visit, “We have spent a number of year’s developing friendships with Norway and hosting student groups. The addition of a group from Sweden is a testament to the success of the bridges already built in Scandinavia. Our approach to enterprise development is a good example to the students and their enterprise teachers, and we have much to learn from them also.”
The group took particular interest and learned much from visiting some of the Enterprise Board’s clients. These included a trip to the Kite Studios, Dreimcom Ltd and Emerald Crystal where they learned how local enterprises start, grow and competed on a national and international stage. The most fun had to be the visit to WIT and TSSG were they partook in a ‘start your own business’ Pizza game, discovering the pitfalls and various stages of business growth.
Norwegian teacher, Kjersti Schjelvaag Lian described their long term vision for the relationship, “We would very much like to make this study visit permanent for our 3rd grade entrepreneurship class. Ireland is in many ways similar to Norway, it is a small country with about 5 million inhabitants. Our students need to learn that Norway is a small country on the edge of Europe, and we depend heavily of the rest of Europe and the world. Many Norwegians seem to think that we will get along fine on our own because of the oil; this is definitely not the case. Not many have been to Ireland before, so this will open their eyes to what Ireland has to offer.”
The group returned home tired from a full schedule but having learned much about Ireland and Waterford City’s entrepreneurial challenges and skills.