|The farewell party on 29 December 1809 for the Danish Prince Christian August (chosen as successor to the Swedish throne) was attended by many prestigious people and about two hundred were invited to help found a Norwegian society for local development.
The foundation ceremony took place in the Christiania Cathedral School
auditorium, which was later used for meetings of the Storting and is
now located at the Folk Museum in Oslo. A general assembly was held
on 18 January 1810 to get the organisation started and to elect a
president and other members of governing bodies and a secretariat.
King Frederik VI was approached with the request to call the
organisation Det Kongelige Selskab for Norges Vel (the Royal
Norwegian Society for Development). The King agreed and granted his
patronage to the Society - on one condition: that his name should be
included among the members!
In 1810, the Society led the way in promoting the establishment of a
Norwegian university in Christiania. During a long visit to Copen-
hagen, Count Wedel Jarlsberg, one of the Society's prime movers, had
plenty of opportunity to talk to King Frederik and on 2 September
1811 the King gave his approval. Activities started up in 1813 under
the name of Det kgl. Frederiks Universitet. This name was kept until
it was changed to Universitet i Oslo (the University of Oslo) in 1939.
There was really little activity in the Society until the 1850s, when
new rules for government grants gave the Society a chance to invest
more in its agricultural companies. Agricultural meetings were held
at intervals of 2-3 years and these were the forerunner of the large
agricultural shows. The Society also helped to establish dairies,
dairy schools and a travelling agronomist scheme.
Today, the Society is best known for promoting business development
in rural communities and for awarding the Medal for Long and True
Service. It is also involved in development cooperation projects
financed by Norad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These include
algae farming in Madagascar, a demonstration farm and potato
cultivation in Macedonia, and business development in East Africa.