The outgoing NHO director John G. Bernander is excited to be a part of the creative environment at Viking Development Group.
Hansen-Tangen has funded the development of the CraftEngine and talks enthusiastically about the ongoing tests in Sweden. The results are encouraging, and everything points to that Prototype B, which has been produced by AVL in Germany, works as intended. And this comes as no surprise to Hansen-Tangen since the multinational AVL Group has a long history of developing engines for the likes of Mercedes, Audi and Bugatti.
“This is very exciting,” John G. Bernander says. ”I’m old enough to know how to handle risk and young enough to still have the curiosity and enthusiasm intact.”
His interest in the CraftEngine started with his advisory role at Viking Heat Engines three years ago, a role which was formalized last year.
“I became very fascinated by this group of enthusiastic people who are dedicated to creating something new and revolutionary,” he says “When curious people and willing venture capital meet environments with technical expertise, I get easily excited. It's fun to work in a creative environment and, from my experience, I believe you get the best results when you're having fun at work.”
Bernander has invested some of his savings and bought half a percent of the company. He is not an employee, but instead on a temporary contract from his own company Tophdal.
“I have bet my work, time and money on something I believe in and am passionate about,” he says. "Tore Hansen-Tangen is a tough, bold and rare species in the business world - something his hometown should be proud of. He deserves that CraftEngine becomes a success.”
John G. Bernander, Managing Director Tor Hodne and Tore Hansen-
Tangen who, according to Bernander, is a rare species in the region’s
- And if it doesn’t?
“Then I can at least look myself in the mirror and say that I dared and tried,” he says.
Bernander emphasizes that he doesn’t have any technical expertise, but adds that he has no doubt that the CraftEngine, which produces heat, cooling and electricity based on renewable sources, has crossed a big, innovative threshold.
“It’s no bigger than a refrigerator and, if it delivers what the tests indicate it will, we may look forward to commercial success in countries that want to make themselves less dependent on fossil fuels or in areas without access to electricity,” he says. ”The CraftEngine represents a new, environmentally-friendly technology that can become key to a better life for many people. It also has the potential to become a lucrative business. It’s an irresistible cocktail.”
Bernander is looking forward to when he receives the test results, so the first industrially manufactured machines can start running in various pilot projects. He believes it will take another two years until large-scale production and sale of the CraftEngine, which is estimated to cost €10,000, can commence.
The interest in the CraftEngine is great. The last couple of weeks, representatives from multinational corporations in Asia and the US have visited AVL’s test laboratory in Sweden to assess the CraftEngine and see if it will fit into their portfolios.
“I look forward to act as a bridge to the financial, political and industrial markets,” Bernander says. “My job will be to promote and explain the potential of the CraftEngine. If we can get a major industrial partner with international distribution power on our team, we will shorten the road to markets significantly. We are open-minded and looking for the best path towards the goal, which is to recycle capital so that most of the invested assets can be returned to the think tank where new innovations are waiting.”
”I get very excited when curious people and venture capital
meet technologically competent environments to create
something new”, says John G. Bernander.
The Austrian government recently supported a project which adapts biomass boilers for the CraftEngine. And Japan has adopted a new subsidy program where power plants are obliged to accept excess energy from renewable sources that can be produced by innovations like the CraftEngine.
“The Norwegian Energy Act is under review, which may result in a new law that makes it compulsory to receive power from private micro-power plants, such as our CraftEngine,” Bernander says. “If that happens, anyone will be able to have their own little power plant and sell surplus power back to their local electricity grid. This will be a major step, both in terms of energy security and the environment, and it will mean that the large Norwegian electricity producers that focus on renewable energy may, to an even larger extent, use Norwegian hydropower to support a Europe that must reduce its dependency on nuclear- and fossil-generated energy.”
During all his years in "exile" Mr. Bernander has kept his residential address in Kristiansand. But now he looks forward to becoming a permanent resident at Tangen, which is just a stone's throw away from Viking Heat Engine’s headquarters. He is and remains a Norwegian, even though he was born in New York. He sees himself as a man with his back to the mountain but his gaze on the world.
“The southern region of Norway known as Sørlandet which I left was something completely different than what I will return to,” he says. “I note with great pleasure that nothing less than an industrial and cultural revolution has taken place. The industrial footprint is still evident, but it doesn’t employ as many people as before. The loss of jobs has been more than offset by the international and innovative environment in the petroleum sector. This has been heavily influenced by companies that have curbed their competitive instinct by working together instead of trying to beat one another. Viking Heat Engines reflects this trend in that we are seeking alliances and partners. The fact that local companies outsource, merge or acquire is not negative, rather a strength. National Oilwell Varco (NOV), which is heavily present in Kristiansand is one example of this. The capital comes from Houston, the innovation happens here in our region and the production is carried out by skilled workers in Brazil.”