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FEATURE: Norway's mountain start-up hub

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FEATURE:  Norway's mountain start-up hub
Eirik Høyme Rogn gazing out over the landscape around Vang. Photo: Facebook.
15:00 CET+01:00
Meet Eirik Høyme Rogn, the man who is trying to turn a tiny mountain village in central Norway into a hub for internet entrepreneurs.
Eirik Høyme Rogn as obsessed with coffee as any other Scandi  hipster you'd find lurking in a start-up hub for internet entrepreneurs. 
 
"Every week we get small batches of freshly roasted coffee beans from some of the best new small roasteries in Norway," the 20-something entrepreneur explains from the trendily designed offices of '1724', the hub he co-founded. 
 
But there's a difference. Rather than being situated in Oslo's trendy Grünerløkka or Stockholm's Södermalm district, 1724 and it's 18 workers are based in the stunning surroundings of Vang, a lakeside village of 1591 people high up in the mountains of central Norway. 
 
"We don't have any high-end coffee bars here in the mountains, so we have to take care of it ourselves," said Rogn.  
 
The idea came to him as a result of Vinjerock, the hugely successful music festival he co-founded in the village in 2006, exploiting the fact that Vang is roughly equidistant from Oslo and Bergen to draw fans from both cities.
 
Working in the village over the festival made him want to see if he could stay all year round, and draw in other entrepreneurs around him. 
 
"Vang is the ideal place for entrepreneurs who love the outdoors, but still wants to to work in a young and active environment," he says. "Most of the new businesses in Vang are started by people who usually put their walking or ski boots on and head into the mountains straight after work." 
 
He got Anders Granlund, an Oslo-based set constructor and production designer originally from Vang, and Elin Høyme, a local Vang designer to give the offices its trendy look. 
 
"The office space was designed to surprise and impress," he says, and  Jurjen van Leeuwen, a Dutch IT Consultant who moved in last year agrees. 
 
"The office space is awesome," he says. "The atmosphere's a bit special. It's like old farming style and we have old furniture from the 1950s and 1960s. A lot of time is spent on creating an office space that's not like a office space in the city, but that's still modern". 
 
"We have a  good fibre connection that allows me to work from where I live, so that's awesome," he adds. 
 
As well as Leodesk, van Leeuwen's IT company, there's Turapp, a hiking app which provides users with pictures, maps and GPS of different mountain and skiing routes, there's Fleten.net, an open source software company split between Denmark and Vang, and and there's KosaSeg, the event management company which grew out of the rock festival.
 
And all of them are growing, which means that the full 24 seats in the office are likely soon to be taken. 
 
"Yes! All the companies in our shared office space has either expanded, or have plans of expansion during this year," says Rogn. "We also see that some of the companies are starting new businesses together." 
 
The aim, says Torstein Lerhol, chief executive of Innovangsjon, the regional development agency Rogn helped launch, is to boost the village's population from today's 1600 up to 1724, a number chosen because it is the height of Grindafjell, the area's most famous mountain. 
 
Here's a portrait of Rogn on holiday:
 
 
Here's a relaxing space in the office: 
 
 
Here's the shared working space: 
 
 
 
Here's where they eat with a fantastic view in the background: 
 
 
Here's the impressive entry: 
 
 
And finally, here's the toilet. 
 
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