Aspiring businesses look to Copenhagen

by: Ingvild Wathne Johnsen

Photo: Ingvild Wathne Johnsen

– No doubt the city is a great place for innovation, says senior advisor at Innovation Center Denmark, as it is named best city in the world to attract talent.

– One of the main reason why we came here was the receptiveness towards innovation, biotech and environmentally friendly startups, says founder of the startup Kaffe Bueno, Alejandro Franco.

His company, which tries to extend the life of coffee, has been based in Copenhagen for approximately 9 months.

– In Columbia, where I am from, people would be skeptical. Here, they are willing to listen and the government grants funds to innovative ideas, says Franco.

This week Copenhagen is hosting Denmark’s largest and oldest tech and innovation summit, TechBBQ. Kaffe Bueno, who just received funding from the Danish Innovation Fund, are trying to reach out to investors, consumers and other startups.

– With events like these, the city offers you opportunities to meet others from the industry. That is good, seeing as networking is one of the most challenging things about being a startup from another country, says Franco.

Founder of Kaffe Bueno, Alejandro Franco. Photo: Ingvild Wathne Johnsen

Attracting talent

During the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, Copenhagen was named the best city in the world to attract talent. At TechBBQ, there is little doubt this is the case.

– There is no doubt Copenhagen is a great place for innovation. There has been a lot of traction these past years and we see a lot of startups come here to start their business, says senior advisor for Innovation Centre Denmark, Asbjørn Overgaard Christiansen.

The center is a part of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It aims at helping businesses create connections, develop their business and access the international marked.

– Copenhagen has a good business climate. We have a well-educated population and the skills necessary to be an innovation hub, says Christiansen.

Photo: Ingvild Wathne Johnsen

The report released in Davos, released by the business school INSEAD and the recruitment agency Adecco, also highlighted the city’s infrastructure, education and widespread use of English as important factors.

In Christiansen’s experience, the Danish way of life also plays a role.

– It is the qualifications that bring you out here, but it’s the family conditions that bring you home. If your family do not function somewhere, you move. What we hear from foreigners in Denmark is that they love living here, he says.

The report compared business conditions in more than 100 countries and looked at how the 45 largest cities are attracting talents in business. Copenhagen placed above cities such as San Francisco, Paris, Los Angeles and Zurich.

Senior advisor at Innovation Center Denmark, Asbjørn Overgaard Christiansen. Photo: Ingvild Wathne Johnsen

Networking spirit

– We have funded around 1/3 of all the projects here today, so basically 1/3 of all the products here are great products, says Martin Kyvsgaard from Innovation Fund Denmark.

The public fund invests in companies on a commercial scale, which Kyvsgaard says is unique on an international scale.

– In Copenhagen, there is a great networking spirit and an interest in helping each other, he says.

– Other cities can learn from how we provide funding and networking opportunities for startups on all levels. We try and provide knowledge and funds to all companies who want to grow and develop, big and small.

However, there is always room for improvement, according to Kyvsgaard.

– In Denmark, you can easily get funding for starting a business, but we need to get better at also helping companies grow, he says.

Christiansen from Innovation Center agrees.

– We often see companies starting out in Copenhagen leave for Silicon Valley or Asia when they need to get more funding. The access to capital is really an issue and is a crucial thing we’ll be working on in the future.