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1962: Norway’s “Silicon Valley”
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Published March 7, 2012

In the 1950s, a young Norwegian got himself a thorough training in the newly invented transistor on the other side of the Atlantic. Back at home, he made an important contribution to turning Vestfold into Norway’s “electronics county”.
Horten in Southern Norway, autumn 2000: Olaf Stavik (centre) a pioneer in research and industry, visits a company in Vestfold’s microelectronics cluster; then called Alcatel Space Norway, it is now Norspace. Photo: Werner Juvik/SINTEF


In the USA and Canada
, Olaf Stavik worked in the dawning and rapidly growing field of microelectronics.

When he returned home, he built up a group in the field of microelectronics at SI, which is now SINTEF in Oslo. Stavik and his colleagues built their first transistor in 1962, and just a little later, Norway’s first integrated circuit.


Small sensors – a large market

Since then, the SI group has also developed a new generation of tiny sensor components. These were the basis of an airbag sensor that the Horten company SensoNor have been producing since 1992 and of which they have sold some 33 million.


Royal honour

Stavik helped to industrialise sensor technology. He moved into industry on a full-time basis in 1967, and laid the foundations of a microelectronics cluster in the County of Vestfold. In 1967, when he turned 70, a group of Norwegian industrialists felt that he deserved the King’s Medal of Honour for his efforts.

In their letter of recommendation, they listed the following companies: AME, AME Space, SensoNor, Getech and Borre Mikrokomponent.

“None of these companies, which in the mid-90s employ more than 500 people, would have existed without Olaf Stavik’s pioneering efforts,” they wrote. And they were heard: The Grand Old Man of Norwegian microelectronics was awarded his gold medal.


Value creation and jobs

For its part, Norway gained a good handful of knowledge-based jobs. Today’s Sensonor Technologies, with its 150 employees, as well as the companies that have spun off from AME/Sensonor in the course of the years, employed a total of 650 people at the beginning of 2011. 


Links: 

Sensonor Technologies

OSI Optoelectronics

Norspace

Memscap

MicroComponent/ERKI Group

poLight (previously, Photonyx)

Jotron

See also: NCE Micro- and Nanotechnology