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Aleksander Helmersberg, the founder of Milla Says.
Aleksander Helmersberg, Founder of Milla Says. Photo: Camilla Waage

Important innovation covering milk cartons

«Talk more about Norwegian innovation» , says Q-meieriene. This autumn their milk cartons are covered in founders and their innovations. Four of the founders are connected to Nyskapingsparken and Mediekuben Incubator.

Swancy, Leieting and Milla Says are all guests at norwegian breakfast tables this autumn.  The four startups, who all started their entrepreneurial journey in Nyskapingsparken, have been awarded their own milk carton by the dairy Q-meieriene.

– At Q-meieriene, we always look at better ways to do things. To think in new ways and challenge the established, contributes to a better everyday for all of us. This autumn, we want to inspire new thinking by sharing the stories of exciting projects that Q-milk drinkers has started, says Pål Rasmussen, Brand Manager for milk at Q-meieriene.

The value of the publicity is hard to quantify, but the exposure is great.

–  Every single one of the innovators will be exposed on over 1,5 million milk cartons in this period.

– I have heard that some of the innovators refuse their family and friends to buy milk with pictures of the other innovators, jokes Rasmussen.

Language is a human right

Milla Says was started by Milla’s father. Milla was born with delayed spoken language and was therefore taught sign language. Now she had a way of communicating, but people around her did not speak the same language. Aleksander Helmersberg, father and founder – quit his day job and developed the app Milla Says. This is a simple way to learn Norwegian sign language on a digital platform. With use of video, pictures and sound – the children’s signs are shared in a quick and easy way.

Creating a learning environment for those weak in language

Our speaking environment makes it easier for us to learn language, this includes television, radio etc. This environment needs to be created for the ones who struggle with speaking, and this is exactly what Milla Says does today. After doing some research, Helmersberg found out that the network around the children and teenagers did not dear to get involved in the understanding of signs, because they did not understand. The app builds an active and digital language environment around the child or the teenager.

The target group are those who uses sign- or body language, that are not standardized. In the app you form a network of family, friends and professionals, where the child or teenager is filmed when doing different signs. When uploading the video, the people included in the network will receive a notification. The app can also be used to plan the learning of new signs, so that the whole network can learn it simultaneously.

Fantastic feedback

The app is well-established in Norway and has already built a strong brand. They have users all over the country, and also in Sweden.

– The feedback from the users has been fantastic. Children used to get frustrated, stopped communicating and acted extrovert. After they started using the app, their network reported less frustration and more communication through using signs. This is the core of MillaSays, says Helmersberg.

New launch

Recently, Milla Says launched two new learning games for those who are connected to the network. One for those who just want to learn Norwegian sign language, and an app called Milla Says Communicator, for the children and environment who need it. Here, you work with concrete signs which are the user’s personal signs. In a format quite similar to Kahoot, the user competes with the rest of their classmates. This makes the user get a sense of achievement, at the thing they know best.

– To learn sign language, you need to practice a lot – and Milla Says has made practicing fun, simple and social.

– We will launch a version 0.2 of the app. It will make it possible to use the program on computer, tablet and mobile phone. And it will be better according to GDPR and the user. At the time, we are working towards public instances, so they can buy licenses. We made an own separated solution for the user, where they can get pictures and signs from the database, says Helmersberg.

Recently, Milla Says had a project together with Ålesund Kommune and worked together with pre-schools, schools and public instances. This was possible with the help of the Innovation contract with Innovation Norway, as a Norwegian SME (small or medium sized company) project.

– The public takes responsibility by buying full package licenses, to be used by all the actors who has a bond with the children, says Helmersberg.

The start of the journey

Milla Says started under the Lean Accelerator E-health in 2014, which was organized by Bergen Teknologioverføring (BTO) amongst others. In the extension of the program they held offices at the BTO co-working space T41.

– The Lean Accelerator has helped us come to where we are today, claims Helmersberg.

– We had an office in the environment. Torstein Skage is on the board of the company. We received a lot of help with networking and to get in touch with the right people, Helmersberg finishes.