A new report, Oslo: State of the City 1918, shows that Oslo is recognized as a capital for business as well as vigorous growth.
It is 5 years since Oslo decided to re-shape the city-region’s international identity, visibility, reputation and positioning and to frame the Oslo brand. In those 5 years, Oslo has emerged as a new and distinctive player on the European and global stage. The Region has taken responsibility for bringing into being an additional economic model for 21st century Norway, during a cycle of great change for both the country and the world.
A new economy and a new Oslo
In this cycle the changed commodities outlook and an aging population means that Norway has to shift decisively from an oil/gas and corporate economy towards a more diversified set of sectors powered by knowledge systems, small and medium sized companies, and a new generation of exponential technologies that will create the next generation of jobs.
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The winds of change are global in scale. Urbanization, globalization, digitization and cross-border capital flows are all tending to concentrate opportunities in the most competitive, innovative and adaptive city regions. The global contests between cities and regions are shifting away from attracting banks and corporate HQs to a focus on science, technology, entrepreneurship, talent, lifestyle, institutions and soft power.
The Oslo region has been the fastest growing capital city in Europe. Since 2000, the Region’s population has grown by more than 25%, and many of the key dynamics are in place for growth to continue up to 2050. Oslo’s high standard of living, buoyant labor market and increased recognition of the region’s standard of public services has seen it become more attractive to young people within Europe and also beyond.
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In 2018, for the first time, 25% of the Oslo population is born overseas. High levels of in-migration of young people have transformed the demographic profile of Oslo and created the conditions to expand the city’s innovation and cultural scene.
Oslo’s rapid regional growth has seen local governments and national government recognize that to accommodate this growth the capital has to develop a regional approach that involves intelligent use of regional infrastructure and assets, and large scale urban restructuring. This has not only seen Oslo grow its successful new airport into an internationally connected hub. It has also involved a process or urban densification and redevelopment to connect its harbor to the city center.
Oslo is not only a city of finance and business serving its national commodities and maritime economy – it is a diversified city of knowledge, culture, medicine and advanced technology. Since 2010, many of its emerging sectors have grown rapidly, including telecoms and IT (4% jobs growth per year), technical advisory (4%), and arts, culture and entertainment (3%).
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For the new wave of fast-growing and rapidly globalizing city regions, culture is an essential ingredient if the region is to successfully accommodate the innovation and creative economy. This is very true in Oslo. As the region competes at the global cutting edge, cultural investment is helping to cement Oslo’s reputation for quality of life, boost its destination appeal, meet the preferences of the innovation economy, and communicate its core values in a time of change.
Oslo’s growing cultural reputation is the product of a 10 years cycle of investment which began with the Opera House followed by The National Museum, the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, the new Public Library and the Munch Museum, all providing a major boost to the competitiveness of Oslo’s cultural amenities while also improving public services, public space and public access.
One international survey identifies 92% of Oslo residents are quite or very satisfied with cultural facilities in the city, such as concert halls, theatres, museums and libraries.
Both the New York Times and Lonely Planet have recently listed Oslo as one of the top places to visit worldwide, in recognition of the city’s ever-improving offering of exciting architecture, cultural and art experiences.
Oslo has always been something of a pioneer in adopting green and sustainable models, but this has really accelerated in the last 5 years. Oslo has become renowned globally for implementing some of the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets anywhere in the world. The City plans on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to 1990 levels by 2020, and by 95% by 2030. If successful, this will make Oslo faster at reducing emissions than any other city or country.
it appears that there are three core dimensions to the way the region has evolved in this latest cycle. Oslo has emerged as an innovation region on the international stage. Relative to other small regions around the world, Oslo region continues to grow more firms, create more co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators and startups.
A cycle of investment in cultural infrastructure and neighborhood redevelopment is capturing the imagination of prospective talent. Oslo is also a region promoting new approaches to social cohesion and inclusion, family-friendly urban living, and healthy lifestyle at all stages of life
What does this all mean for Oslo?
As a result, it is fair to say that Oslo’s new business model (innovation, science, culture) is increasingly in demand. It also increasingly benefits from an integrated region that adds scale and capacity to help Oslo absorb demand in a well-managed way.
Oslo was known for being a small, pleasant, safe, domestically oriented city that was on the cusp of change. Today, more of Oslo’s edges are known by the world: its urban quality and vibrancy is being recognized, its work-life balance is feted, and its diversity, innovation and ambition is widely perceived by external observers. Oslo is becoming a leader.
Read the whole report Oslo: State of the City