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A place for all seasons - introduction to the Bergen region

For people looking for a place to settle down and further their career at the same time, the city of Bergen and the county of Hordaland is the place to live and work. Known as “the Bergen region”, with its geographical location, growing economy, high quality education, research institutions and solid infrastructure, this area has continued to expand its reputation for value creation and quality of life.

The Bergen region features a wide variety of industries and business areas. With Bergen at the heart, cities and towns such as Stord, Odda, Husnes, Ålvik, Øygarden and Mongstad represent important commercial and industrial centres. A leading region within the area of petroleum, aquaculture, hydroelectric power, maritime operations and ICT, just to name a few areas, the synergies being developed leading to success are being felt far outside of the region’s borders.

Hordaland County as a whole is Norway’s second most popular tourist area during the summer, with Voss and Hardanger being key to the thriving tourist business. The tourist industry employs a significant number of people and represents one backbone in the continued development of commercial activity, growth and renewal within the Business Region Bergen.

Dynamic & International
Business Region Bergen (see separate article) is an organization working with business and industry to help maintain Hordaland as the most attractive region to work, live and thrive in Norway. Established in 2007, Business Region Bergen promotes the region as an attractive venue for new and profitable business development, and whose main objective is to create more long-term jobs. Together with such organizations as the Bergen Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Bergen Scenarios 2020, unity is strength.

The prognosis is excellent, as this region has a diversity of business and industry, nature, culture and infrastructure, all of which attract people who want to stay, live and work here. Historically, the region was built up through successful import and export activities, something that has made Bergen a “window to the world” for the Nordic countries.

Voss is not far from Bergen and is famous for skiing and other recreational activities.
© Voss Resort

According to Marit Warncke, the CEO of the Bergen Chamber of Commerce, “Bergen is an open city with great diversity in businesses. Within our most important industries, such as shipping, oil, gas and energy, seafood, aquaculture, marine industry and tourism, we have strong industrial clusters complete with research and technology. Business and industry, academia, politicians and the authorities are working closely together.”

Throughout the years the Bergen region has developed to become a dynamic and international centre for trading, handicrafts, industry and finance. Today, the region has a good foundation for development of new alimentary enterprises such as energy, culture, tourism, shipping and fish industry. Here, there is a diversity of business and industry, nature, culture and infrastructure, which attract people who want to stay, live and work here. Unemployment is at a record low level – and businesses in the Bergen region have the need for creative, talented and experienced employees who share the vision of this region’s bright future.

Deep Historical Roots
The Bergen region is unique. Located in the county of Hordaland, on the west coast of Norway, Bergen is Norway’s main maritime city. The close connection between nature and business is evident, especially the connection the region has to the sea.

Ever since the city of Bergen was founded by Olav Kyrre in 1070, the city itself and the surrounding region has never stopped growing. The region has developed itself as Norway’s most important trading connection to Europe. The geographical location by the sea has provided the foundation for increasing trade and the exchange of merchandise with European ports and the rest of Norway as well.

Bryggen’s 58 historic wooden buildings date from the early 18th century, when the Hanseatic League painstakingly rebuilt them after the devastating 1702 fire.
© Terje Rakke/Nordic Life/Fjord Norway

Clean Energy
The Bergen region is a central national region of value creation and competence. Energy is the region’s main industry (see separate article ‘Energy Abounds’), covering both hydroelectric power production and the oil and gas industry. No county in Norway exports more than Hordaland. In fact, export from the west coast is higher than those of the other regions in Norway put together. Hordaland produces 80% of the total amount of crude oil exported from Norway, and supplies gas to Europe from Norway’s largest gas field, the Troll field.

Since the early 1980s the subsea industry in the region has expanded into one of the world’s most complete environments for subsea technology. In the Bergen region dealing with the seas and the weather is a necessity, so the industry has been built around this to use it to its advantage. This is a very powerful force in the industry in the region today.

The city of Bergen is committed to maintaining its clean, pristine surroundings for future generations, and is taking action to achieve this goal. In January of 2008, the Bergen City Council ensured through a contractual agreement with Fjordkraft that the Bergen Municipality would purchase power that comes from renewable energy sources. The signal is clear – Bergen is committed to a continually stronger climate and environmental profile and will continue to look for creative and practical solutions in the future to make Bergen and Hordaland an excellent region in which to live and work.

The city of Bergen is known for both its stunning views
as well as its international business successes.
© Pål Berg

Strength in Shipping & Aquaculture
The city of Bergen is home to some of the largest niche shipping companies on the planet, such as Star Shipping, Odfjell SE and Grieg Shipping, along with all the businesses that have developed to provide secondary services to the maritime community. Some of these companies, such Frank Mohn AS, which manufactures pumps, has contributed to Bergen’s maritime community developing the technologies that helped build the niche shipping markets in the first place. The area also has an extensive shipping industry that includes shipyards for vessels and oilrigs.

The Bergen region has the only complete marine environment in Norway. The Institute of Marine Research, with its 400 scientists, is located in the city of Bergen, as well as the main navy base of Norway. The maritime industry alone employs approximately 19,000 people. The Bergen area is also strong in fish farming and fishing.

The Norwegian Seafood Export Council lists 33 major fish exporters in the Bergen area, many of which have their roots in the city’s centuries-old tradition of harvesting fish from the sea. See the separate articles in this issue of “Living and Working in Bergen” that tell the story of opportunities that abound within the areas of shipping, aquaculture and the fishing industry.

Learning, Researching & Renewal
Many national and private research and educational institutions in the region, together with Haukeland University Hospital, the region’s largest public employer, make the region both a national and an international centre of research and education. The many research institutes in the region are internationally recognized as being excellent. Bergen is also a university city with a strong connection between education, research and development, and industries.

The are a large number educational institutions from which to choose, including the University of Bergen (UiB), the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH), Bergen University College (HIB) and the Bergen National Academy of the Arts (KHiB). The Bergen region is an important area of research and education. All together, these research and educational authorities have more than 25,000 students and 4,200 employees, including 2,800 professional posts. Altogether Bergen hosts more than 25,000 students. See the separate article “The Best and the Brightest” for more.

Bergen’s Fish Market has a centuries-long history as a busy marketplace.
© Bergen Tourist Board/Per Eide

A Part of Nature
Living in the Bergen region means that you are not just near the nature, you are in the nature. Bergen city is surrounded by mountains, and you can easily go on a hike in the mountains beginning from a walk downtown. The entire region is basically surrounded by nature, mountains and fjords, with breathtaking landscapes as if taken directly out of a master photographer’s book. This beauty creates a major tourist industry, and the region is excellent at taking advantage of the opportunities that this presents all year round.

As a region almost surrounded by the sea, water activities such as boating, fishing, water skiing, kayaking and scuba diving take place throughout the region. Along the coastline there are many excellent places to scuba dive for fish and to explore the seafloor and its many secrets. With the short distance to the mountains, the region has a lot of winter resorts. The town of Voss is very well known throughout the world for its Olympic medalists in winter sports. Voss will be the hosts of the World Championships in freestyle skiing in 2013.

Every year, performers from the world over come to Voss to enjoy extreme sports, including the annual Extreme Sport Week held each year in June. This event brings together the best within a wide range of extreme sports that include base, skydiving, paragliding, rafting, climbing, kayaking, longboarding and others. The tourist industry in the Voss region is booming, and can offer numerous opportunities for those seeking to combine the best of the nature with their career.

Troldhaugen is the home of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, now home to a intimate performance hall and a museum honouring the composer and his work.
© Bergen Tourist Board/Per Nybø

A Sporting Experience
Bergen’s major soccer team is SK Brann in the Norwegian national league and it enjoys broad regional support with 15,000 to 20,000 spectators attending each home match. Also, the Ulriken Eagles, located in Bergen, is one of the best basketball teams in Norway. There are also clubs for activities like American football, handball, ice hockey, speed skating, underwater rugby, swimming and curling, among others.

During recent years several golf courses have been built and the interest in golf is increasing. The Bergen area has two 18-hole golf courses and several 9-hole courses. Fana Golf Course is located within a 10 minute drive from the airport, while the Meland Golf Course is located 30 minutes north of the city centre. With its brilliant design and spectacular view, the 6,203 metre par 73 Meland course is ranked as one of Europe’s most challenging golf courses. Once you have played it, you will never forget it!

The Sound of Music, Culture & Fun
The Bergen Region is also known for its active music scene, a scene that spans the spectrum from classical to folk and from opera to rock. The city has several theatres and stages, and “Den Nationale Scene” is the oldest one in Norway. The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra – one of the oldest in the world – was established in 1765. Bergen was the European City of Culture in 2000. Every year famous music performers visit Bergen to hold concerts. There is something for everyone here. There are approximately 150 restaurants, cafés and coffee shops, 70 museums and collections, and several bars, pubs, concert venues, cinemas and other places to go for relaxing and having fun.

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