Cycling and start-ups in Oslo

Richard Branson speaking at the 2023 Oslo Business Forum
Oslo Business Forum
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 3 October 2023

It was wonderful to visit Oslo for the first time in a long time. It’s a beautiful city, with such kind people and a great love of cycling!

We started the day at 5am with a 50km cycle organised by the Oslo Dawn Patrol. The cycling group has over 300 members that gather for a bike ride before work every Tuesday and Thursday. I love how cycling is such an integral part of Scandinavian culture, and a main mode of transport. It would be wonderful if more cities could adopt this approach. The Oslo Dawn Patrol uses its rides as an opportunity to check-in on one another’s mental health and help alleviate their stresses. How wonderful. It was also great to ride alongside the cycling group’s founder, Hans Flensted, and Karina Reigstad from the British Embassy. Karina has such an inspiring story, having cycled from Oslo to Paris after surviving leukaemia as a young girl. It was also inspiring to learn more about her background in climate and energy diplomacy – which stems from a passion for ocean biodiversity, having grown up on a small island off the coast of Norway. 

After the bike ride, I met a dyslexic entrepreneur called Sophia. I’m always inspired by young entrepreneurs and dyslexic thinkers. Sophia started her own ice cream business (called LICC) at the age of 13. Although she is extremely dyslexic, Sophia didn’t let it get in the way of her dreams and her vision to become Europe’s largest employer for young people. She’s making incredible strides too, having employed over 100 people in three months. Wow! The chocolate ice-cream was delicious too.

Richard Branson in Oslo with a young entrepreneur who founded LICC

After meeting Sophia, it was onto the Oslo Business Forum, where I met Morton Berge. Morton is the CEO of Ferd, which is the new lead investor in auticon. We became early-stage investors in auticon back in 2016 when we were inspired by their mission to help people with autism find meaningful and long-term employment. It’s been incredible to see how the company has grown all over the world. Indeed, in June this year, Ferd brokered a merger between auticon and Unicus – which led auticon to become the largest autistic-majority company in the world. Equally amazing that 81% of its 575 employees are on the autism spectrum.

Lisa Thomas, Richard Branson and Amanda Turnill, auticon's managing director in Australia
Image from auticon Australia

A very inspiring trip all around. Oslo, I’ll be back!