Tromsøgrûnderne’s idea can help students and researchers all over the world.

ITromsø’s marketing department


You don’t have to be born Steve Jobs to bring a great idea into the world. But you need to surround yourself with knowledgeable people who can teach you the path from idea to reality.

Entrepreneurs Anders Rapp and Frode Opdahl found this out when they started their own company and developed the search service Keenious. They recently secured a NOK 21 million innovation contract that now gives Keenious a real boost towards commercialization of the product.

Inspiration and knowledge

For Keenious, the office space at Norinnova’s Siva Innovation Center, formerly known as the Research Park, was the start of an important journey. Here they have received guidance in writing applications, how to present their ideas to investors and other partners, and they draw inspiration and knowledge from other start-up companies.

-“We would never be where we are today if it wasn’t for Norinnova. Here we met with resource people who evaluated our idea and who specialize in the many paths from idea to marketable product. “There’s a lot to get to grips with as a start-up company, and many steps towards the goal, and all this has to happen at the same time as you’re working on the idea itself,” says Frode Opdahl.

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Using artificial intelligence

He started developing the search engine as a student of computer science at the University of Tromsø. Keenious is designed to simplify source searches and research for students and researchers. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, the Keenious founders have created a search service that analyzes texts and retrieves other relevant research, articles, studies and publications. This simplifies the work of finding literature for studies or research. And what’s unique about Keenious is the way the technology is used and put together to understand the needs of the copywriter, whether you’re a first-year student studying sociology or a PhD student in computer science.

The idea came about when Frode was a student at UIT and wanted to simplify his own study life.

The idea came about when Frode was a student at UIT and wanted to simplify his own study life.

-“The program is a bit like your advisor during your studies, the one who points out and directs you to other source searches in relevant research or publications with content you hadn’t thought of,” says Opdahl.

He is joined by his friend Anders Rapp, who has a versatile background in psychology, computer science, law and business administration.

-If you’re starting a business, there’s a lot to learn, so everything comes in handy in Keenious. It’s also important that we are two people with different backgrounds who complement each other.

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From Breivika to Berkeley

In the spring of 2017, they started up in full force and in the fall of the same year they established the company Keenious. In addition to the formal competence their studies have given them, both emphasize Gründerskolen as an important source of inspiration. Gründerskolen is a collaborative project between many educational institutions in Norway and the program is coordinated by the University of Oslo. The aim is to inspire students through knowledge and networks to innovation and entrepreneurship. Participation here first brought Anders, and the following year Frode, to Berkeley University for courses and training, as well as internships in high-tech start-ups in Sillicon Valley.

-“It was a very inspiring few months. At the same time, the magic of establishing businesses was taken down. Knowing the possibilities and knowing the path from idea to product is just as useful as the idea itself.

21 million innovation contract

– Our stay there was invaluable and a great inspiration for us, who have never started a company before,” says Rapp.

The University of Tromsø is a pilot customer in the NOK 21 million innovation contract in collaboration with Innovation Norway, SkatteFUNN and private investors. Previously, both the Research Council of Norway and the EU’s Horizon 2020 have supported the Tromsø entrepreneurs. A free trial version of Keenious is currently available in the market. From being just Frode and Anders, the company is now recruiting new employees. Before the end of the year, they will have nine employees.

-We aim to go international with the product. The technology has great potential. Just think of how many students and campuses there are in the world!