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EEPA 2018 Testimonial: Lean Landing – ‘Grand Jury Prize’ Winner 2018

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Ready for our next EEPA winner interview? Today we are proud to welcome our 2018 Grand Jury Prize Winner, Lean Landing from Denmark!

The Lean Landing network consists of a total of 19 partners, accelerators and incubators. The network has members from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and the United Kingdom. Members of the Lean Landing network open up their facilities to the 190 participating SMEs, giving them bases in their target countries, as well as a local business support system. These local bases allow SMEs to gather first impressions of the foreign market, establish contacts, and learn important local business etiquette and practices. So far, of the 190 SMEs involved, 80 have successfully been abroad with the Lean Landing project.

The project is run by Væksthus Sjælland, a non-profit organisation established in 2007 that provides services for entrepreneurs and micro SMEs with scalability and growth potential. The organisation is also responsible for providing business support to the Zealand Region of Denmark and is one of five national units.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

Our organisation has known about the national EEPA competition for a few years, and in the past been national winners three times as well as receiving a ‘special mention’ award. We decided to enter again because EEPA is THE place and event to be at, if you are running EU projects, and winning the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ this year is the biggest prize any EU project can receive.

How did you prepare your application?

We didn’t really prepare, but we spent quite some time on the application to make sure that we got all the right and important information filled in.

What was it like to win the award?

We were honestly just very overwhelmed and very surprised. We had hoped to win in our category ‘Supporting internationalisation for business’ but we did not expect to win the ‘Grand Jury Prize’. It has probably been the biggest recognition our organisation has ever received for any EU project.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award hasn’t really had that much of an impact on my daily work, but there has been a lot of positive attention from many people from other organisations both nationally and internationally. Furthermore our 19 partners in the project have also been very happy about the result and it has sparked a new sort of energy internally, that we have actually done something really special with our project.

The exposure from EEPA and Euronews, who worked with the EU commission since we won, has also been great. The video from when we received the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ was available the day after and the film that was shot by Euronews for ‘Euronews Business Planet’ is going to be part of our ongoing marketing material for the project.

Why should others enter EEPA 2019? What advice would you give them?

Other organisations and projects should enter EEPA because it is a great way to get recognised for the work that each of us put in daily and it is truly a great experience to participate in the ceremony. Furthermore, it is great way to meet like-minded people and expand your network.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plans for the future are to continue to develop new and value-creating projects like Lean Landing, with the purpose of helping SMEs to grow locally, nationally and internationally.

The future of innovation and enterprise – What can we expect?

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Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark, is back for a final interview with Promoting Enterprise. Today the subject is the future, what does it hold for innovation and enterprise? What can we expect? What are the trends telling us? Read on to find out…

What trends do you see in innovation?

In Denmark specifically, the public sector is embracing innovation, which I see as a positive thing. Overall, user driven innovation is increasing, as consumers and users begin to play larger roles in development, and there is a shift from only research based innovation. The current trend is disruption of society as there is a need for innovation for us to advance.

What measures/steps are you taking to encourage digital innovation in Region Zealand?

In Region Zealand we currently don’t do enough and as such we are not a front runner in the digital space. In Denmark however there have been some steps towards pushing companies to work digitally and make that digital transformation. The Danish Business Authority (which takes care of company registrations and working in the Danish public sector) took the controversial decision to make it mandatory for all companies to digitally invoice if they wanted to work in the public sector. Initially there was a lot of resistance but overall it helped – and is still helping companies – to transition to the digital sphere. As such, Denmark has no physical paper trails for monetary transactions and the public sector is going fully digital. That is truly innovative.

As director for innovation and growth, what do you see as the future of enterprise?

The same situation can be seen across all the EU countries, the public sector is under enormous strain which has and will continue to be a catalyst and driver for innovation. This in turn will result in increased cooperation and further blurring of public and private divisions. This blurring of divisions also relates to how the idea of employment is changing and evolving, which is not to say it is negative, but simply means that new working models are beginning to emerge. I see the future of enterprise as no longer including the ‘employee’ concept, I think this will be phased out. It is not uncommon now and nor will it be in future to have multiple jobs or hybrid employment models, alongside an overall merging of individuals and companies.

What does the future of enterprise look like in Denmark? Do you think it is different to global trends or where the future of enterprise will go globally?

Denmark has always had a strong focus on creating a business environment conducive to startups and entrepreneurs. So far we have been successful, but we also need to change in order to stay competitive and innovative. The new focus now needs to be on helping startups to scale up. So the big question for us now is how do we scale up in Denmark? Perhaps a larger and certainly important question is, how do we scale up in the EU?

Innovation in large companies: CP Kelco, Region Zealand

If you enjoyed this insightful interview with Tue David Bak, be sure to read his other interviews right here on the Promoting Enterprise Portal.

First interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?

Second interview: Startup Culture – Tue David Bak shares his insights and predictions

Startup Culture – Tue David Bak shares his insights and predictions

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Promoting Enterprise is proud to welcome back Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark. In his second interview with us, Tue sheds some light on startups, accelerators and incubators in Region Zealand and Denmark, current trends and the regional influences on startup culture.

Do you have many accelerators and incubators in Region Zealand? Are they successful?

In Denmark we have actually worked to avoid having too many regional accelerators and incubators, we prefer to have these bodies on a national level so as to keep them open to all Danish and even global companies. Global companies are not excluded from accessing our incubators and accelerators. As long as they have a Danish license and a physical presence in Denmark they can access all the resources. Through this openness we hope to facilitate a link between the Danish and global markets, thus making Denmark just as attractive as the Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs.

What trends are you seeing on the startup scene?

There is an increasing acknowledgement from startups that they do need help. The old idea of two guys in a garage doing everything on their own and not needing any support is starting to be replaced by the realisation that getting a startup to take off is difficult and that there a multitude of resources to draw from and that they are there for a reason. This links to another trend which is an overall change in mindset regarding partnerships. Similar to the collective realisation that they need help, startup founders are specifically beginning to value the need for partnerships with mentors, larger companies etc.

What trends are you seeing in startup culture? For example, does geography play a role?

Absolutely, just looking at the differences between Northern and Southern Europe is an illustration of the role of geography. I have more experience and expertise in Northern Europe, and overall I have seen that there is a strong entrepreneurial culture in Northern Europe, including acceptance of changes of career as a ‘normal’ part of professional life.

Even within countries geography is a big influence, a startup or company located in a rural area will not behave in the same way as an urban counterpart. Rural startups are more traditional working on the idea of being your own boss and are often less aggressive in their approach to scaling up. They are also more in line with the traditional Danish culture which means not standing out or drawing attention to yourself. In contrast urban areas are experiencing an aggressive growth of entrepreneurs.

Innovation in startups: Synchrotron-based microscopy at laboratory scale (Xnovo)

Tue David Bak will be back next week on Promoting Enterprise for his final interview on the future of innovation and enterprise and what Denmark and the EU need to focus on to stay competitive.

Read his first interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?

Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?

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Today on Promoting Enterprise we are joined by Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark. In the first of a series of interviews, he shares with us his experiences in identifying innovation and creating innovative environments.

How is innovation fostered in your region?

Firstly, we must identify how innovation takes place before talking about how it is fostered. Innovation takes place via two processes:

1. Internal innovation within companies and organisations

2. Public or other innovative institutions creating innovation frameworks

In this context, I am going to focus more on the second process, as this is where the region plays a role. In Region Zealand there are different schemes which establish innovation frameworks to encourage innovative behaviour, for which specific funds are set aside. For example, one of the things that we do at the regional level is to reduce the risk for companies that are willing to invest in innovative ideas. Currently the focus is on innovation in the healthcare system. The region has set aside funds so that investors are taking financial fewer risks, and, hence, willing make much investments that are much greater than expected in innovation.

We also run gap financing schemes through universities, which also aim at reducing the level of risk for potential investors. Our role as the region is to bridge the gap between research and commercial finance, which in many cases could stop a potentially innovative body of research from receiving the necessary support to grow and expand. One example is the company Xnovo, which began as a research idea developed at the Technical University of Denmark. Through the support provided with the gap financing scheme it has now developed into a commercial company with its own private employees.

What are the key aspects of an environment that encourages innovation?

There are three main elements required for an innovative environment:

1. Private and public risk capital

You need free money to finance risk taking

2. The ability for public institutions to purchase innovative ideas

Region Zealand has recently changed its internal procurement laws to stimulate innovation by incentivising public institutions to purchase novel ideas and technology.

3. Excellent advising systems

Companies and individuals require guidance when it comes to innovation, therefore it is necessary to have easy to use support systems in place.

Innovation in startups: 4D X-ray videos showing microstructure evolution (Xnovo)

In the case of Region Zealand, I believe that we have all of the elements above but simply not enough of each. We can strengthen the advisory and support systems that currently exist. We can increase our in-house purchase of innovative ideas. In the United States the small business administration had special programmes to acquire public contracts, which is something we can learn from and build upon. In Denmark certain requirements for companies, e.g. a three year track record, have been taken away in order to make it easier for new startups which would not fulfil this criterion. Taking away this type of requirement could make certain steps in the process of scaling up and establishment easier, for example access to funds and schemes. Removing barriers is absolutely key, you have to make it easy, to provide incentives and minimise the risk of purchasing innovative ideas.

Stay tuned for more from Tue David Bak on global innovation, where it will lead us, the future of enterprise and trends in startup culture.

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