The Nordic region’s datacentres have become popular locations for IT workloads for big business, as well as organisations carrying out research that requires high computing power.

Take work on quantum computing being carried out in Finland to connect a quantum computer to a supercomputer. The aim is to create a hybrid system to overcome the difficulty of using quantum computers as standalone systems. 

Projects like this require huge computing power, and where better to do it than the Nordics? Datacentre builders are attracted to the region due to its cool climate, access to renewable power sources, as well as an abundance of skilled people.

Iceland is an example of an increasingly popular destination for datacentre providers. In this top 10, we look at why Iceland could be the prime location for future datacentres.

We also feature two Nordic CIO interviews. Find out how Morton Holm Christiansen is applying is experience to digital transformation to realign the core business of chemical maker Halder Topsoe and read about Chris Conradi’s work to apply the techniques of Google to the private equity sector.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 Nordic IT articles of 2022.

1. Finland connects a quantum computer to a supercomputer

Finnish research and technology organisation VTT announced a milestone in November when, in collaboration with CSC – IT Center for Science and Aalto University, it connected the quantum computer HELMI with the pan-European supercomputer LUM.

HELMI is Finland’s first quantum computer, a 5-qubit system that became operational in 2021. And the system it was connected to is no ordinary supercomputer – LUMI, the fastest supercomputer in Europe, which is able to carry out 309 petaflops. Like HELMI, LUMI became operational in 2021.

2. Icelandic datacentres may lead the way to green IT

Icelandic datacentres operate on sustainable energy – a mix of geothermal and hydroelectric power generation. Furthermore, cooling is free thanks to the naturally cool climate, and there are three submarine cable systems linking Iceland to other regions – with the next one on the way.

The fourth submarine cable system is expected to be ready by the end of 2022. The new system will provide a direct connection from the south-west of Iceland to the west coast of Ireland. 

3. CIO interview: Morten Holm Christiansen, Haldor Topsoe

After successfully creating commercial value through digitisation at some major Nordic companies, Morten Holm Christiansen has been tasked with doing the same at Danish chemical industry giant Halder Topsoe.

Having joined the company in November 2021, he is directing Copenhagen-headquartered Topsoe’s digital transformation at a time when the company is also going through a major business change.

4. Robo investment platform adopts open banking-based payments

Denmark-based fintech Nord Investments has adopted open banking technology from Aiia to make it easier for people using its platform to make investments.

The robotic software investment platform, which currently only operates in Denmark, said it wanted to make it easier for its 7,000 active investors to make payments on the platform when making investments.

5. Executive interview: Chris Conradi, chief digital officer, FSN Capital

After a Google brainwash, Chris Conradi is on a mission to transform a sector yet to realise the benefits of the latest digital technologies.

Conradi left Google in 2019 to work at Norwegian private equity investment company FSN Capital and quickly found out that the “very conservative” private equity sector was behind on digitisation, particularly in comparison with companies in other parts of the finance sector.

6. An encouraging new conversation around sustainable IT, says Nordic CIO

“On the surface, you might think that the use of IT has a positive impact on the environment due to less business travel and commuting to work,” writes Niklas Sundberg in his book, Sustainable IT playbook for technology leaders, published in October 2022. As CIO of the Global Solutions division at Sweden’s Assa Abloy, Sundberg is well placed to write about sustainable IT. 

“While the benefits of the ICT industry are well known, the environmental impact has been kept secret – until very recently,” Sundberg tells Computer Weekly

7. Skype’s legacy and the rise of the ‘new Nordics’

The focus on tech startup development across the Nordic region has intensified in recent years, thanks to a glut of global success stories. And yet, just a stone’s throw across the Gulf of Finland sits a Baltic nation that rarely hits the headlines, despite a current unicorn count of 10 from a population of just 1.2 million.  

That country is Estonia. And, alongside Lithuania and Latvia, there are calls for Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Finnish ecosystems to better leverage the levels on ingenuity and innovation that exist across main cities. The intended result: a “new Nordic” region even stronger in the tech realm than we have seen so far. 

8. Data protection in Finland, four years after GDPR came into force

Generally speaking, the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has gone fairly well in Finland, according to Anu Talus, data protection ombudsman for the country’s data protection authority.

Two deputies work with Talus at the Office of the Data Protection Ombusman – one is responsible for the public sector and the other looks after enforcing the laws. Talus looks after the private sector.

9. Norwegian recruiters struggle to keep up with demand for IT specialists

The Norwegian Society of Graduate Technical and Scientific Professional (Tenka) has reported that 48% of Norwegian companies are in need of IT resources.

According to Rune Buseth, partner at recruitment firm Birn & Partners, that shortage of IT staff will continue for several years, regardless of the economic situation. 

10. Swedish researcher cuts through hype around autonomous vehicles

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation supports several innovative projects in Sweden, and one of the most notable is the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Programme (Wasp), the country’s biggest research project to date.  

Michael Felsberg is part of that project. A professor at Sweden’s Linköping University, Felsberg is also head of the university’s computer vision laboratory. Much of his research in artificial intelligence (AI) is funded as part of Wasp.  

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