When Vestfold and Telemark County recruited a head of their newly established investment promoting agency, there were a lot of applicants. Meet Christian Jahren, the energetic businessman that was found as the perfect fit for the challenge.
“Originally, I have a degree in finance, business administration and marketing - but I’m actually also a trained police officer. I worked in the force for about 8 years before heading back to business”, Christian explains. “Most of my business career has been within B2B and in the defense and public safety industry, working with marketing and sales on a global scale. You could say I’ve done my share of trade fairs and international business trips!”
A passion for business development
Christian has always had a passion for business development. Parallel with the career in marketing and sales, he has worked with startups and scaleups, either as a part of the board or a hired consultant.
“I like to think I know a thing or two about how to build an international network, and in this regard, I believe it's important to understand how investors thinks. Both these perspectives are relevant to our mission at Invest in Vestfold & Telemark.”
Making a difference in the region
After a long period of “globetrotting”, Christian now wants to make a difference closer to home:
“The Telemark and Vestfold region has a huge potential! There are so many exciting projects going on, and we have so much to offer. The companies already present in our region are world leading, especially regarding green solutions and technology. I am honored and excited to be able to use my experience to create even more development and growth in the region.”
Christian can roughly divide his work into three pillars:
“For one, it’s the classic Invest in-role: be the first point of contact for businesses considering setting up in Norway and in Vestfold & Telemark, introducing these to all aspects of our region, assisting with site selection, and facilitate a “smooth” journey from first contact to a successful business. This work is often carried out in close collaboration with the rest of the Invest in Norway team, and of course with great support from the local municipalities and business clusters.”
“The second pillar is to support the local municipalities and other site owners in their business development efforts. By offering our expertise and creating a clear understanding of the requirements that prospects and clients have when looking for the perfect site to establish and grow their business. We particularly emphasize the need to offer a clear value proposition, predictability, timely and thorough information and of course fully zoned sites. When receiving an inquiry or RFI (request for information) you don’t have time to start figuring these things out, you need to be prepared!”
“Our third pillar is assisting scaleups. Either those already present in the region, or those considering relocating here, that are looking for additional funding. We have access to a large network and can facilitate contact between scaleups and potential capital.”
Ultimate goal: Increase value creation
The ultimate goal of Invest in Vestfold & Telemark is to increase the value creation in the region. To create growth. And while the municipalities and Innovation Norway aim is to help existing businesses grow, the responsibility of Invest in Vestfold & Telemark is to attract outside investments to the region, either companies or capital.
“Our vision is that Vestfold & Telemark become known as "a safe haven" for those seeking business opportunities. Especially within green industry and technology where companies in our region already are at the forefront.”
Buddies important to succeed
Christian goes on to explain the importance of “buddies” to succeed within business. Buddies in this case can be companies within the same industry. These are often part of business and innovation clusters, such as Powered by Telemark, Electronic Coast or Norwegian Water Cluster, to mention a few. There are strong arguments and great references in the fact that players from the same or adjacent industries are successful and growing in a region, as this also highlights the expertise that already exists and is available to tap into.”
“The thinking used to be to distance themselves from competitors. Today, competitors are more and more regarded as partners that fuel mutual success through synergies in the value chain or increased competence and innovation. In addition, it is a strong and important reference when players in the same industry are successful and growing, as this also highlights the knowledge and expertise that already exists in the region.
In addition to existing companies and clusters, outstanding industrial infrastructure, a competent workforce, and quality of life are some of the regions USPs:
“We have a great quality of life here in Vestfold & Telemark. The nature is of course breathtaking, with both a vibrant coast and majestic mountains within a few hours’ drive. The housing prices are 60 % below those in Oslo – only a short train ride away from the capital. And Torp, our international airport, has direct flights to more than 30 destinations.”