Our partners

Danish Design Centre 

As Denmark’s national design centre, Danish Design Centre promotes the use of design in business and industry, helps professionalise the design industry, and documents, promotes and brands Danish design in Denmark and abroad. Danish Design Centre Kolding works specifically to help small and medium-sized enterprises in applying design methods to innovation processes in order to promote growth and scale.

Design offers proven and effective methods to promote innovation, to understand and engage users in finding the fastest way from concept to testing, and to ensure sustainability in production.

Design is one of many horizontal drivers for innovation in the Region of Southern Denmark, based on a strong regional research and design environment built by knowledge institutions like Design School Kolding and the University of Southern Denmark, as well as the design cluster D2i – Design to innovate, now Danish Design Centre.


Danish Design Centre
Sdr. Havnegade 7DK-6000 Kolding, Denmark
Web: www.danskdesigncenter.dk

Aase Højlund Nielsen
Strategic Fundraiser
E-mail: ahn@ddc.dk

Information about the RIS3 in Denmark:

National level document: Strategi for decentral erhvervsfremme 2020-23 (draft – January 2020) [Strategy for a Decentralized Business Promotion 2020-23]
Legal owner: Board of the Danish Business Promotion
Website: https://erhvervsfremmebestyrelsen.dk

Key challenges for innovation policy

(This is based on a draft version of the Strategy for Decentralized Business Promotion 2020-23 which will become the national S3 when finalised and adopted)

•   Labour force and social inclusion
Better access to a qualified labour force is a primary condition for growth and competitiveness in companies. Employees with education and training within areas requested by companies, and recruitment and maintenance of highly qualified foreign labour are key areas of interest. In addition to this, an effort on social inclusion is needed to integrate people without employment.

•   Entrepreneurship
Number of start-ups in Denmark is still low compared to the period before the financial crisis, in particular in non-metropolitan regions. Only a small number of Danish entrepreneurs become ‘growth entrepreneurs’ – the number is below the OECD-average. Start-ups need better support, both in relation to development of business competences and through entrepreneurship environments with peer learning and access to knowledge and professional counselling. Access to specialised competences, networks and investment must be strengthened, supporting growth and scale-up potentials among start-ups.

•   Green transition and circular economy
Employment and export within particularly green energy has declined during the last couple of years. SMEs struggle with the transition because new knowledge, competences and cooperation across sectors are required, and this is demanding for small companies with limited resources beyond daily operations. Access to knowledge and competences within green transition and circular economy is needed.

•   Innovation
Denmark is placed below the OECD average when it concerns sale of innovative products. Despite being ‘Innovation Leader’, Denmark is lacking behind on the relative number of innovative SMEs, and in Denmark, the relative number of innovative companies varies between regions. In particular SMEs experience barriers in relation to innovation, e.g. lack of knowledge about forms of collaboration and relevant collaboration partners, but also lack of resources within knowledge institutions and within SMEs, and differences in organisation cultures and ways of communicating form barriers. The potential for transforming knowledge into innovation does not seem to have been fully redeemed.

•   Digitalisation and automatization
Despite a high degree of internationalisation in Denmark, SMEs in particular are lacking behind. It is difficult for SMEs to find time and resources for advanced development tasks, and many SMEs experience difficulties in recruiting the right qualified labour or external expertise with relevant knowledge. Also, a lack of knowledge about opportunities form a barrier to their application. Enhanced focus on data security and data ethics form another important area of intervention.

•   Internationalisation
Internationalisation is of immense importance for a small country like Denmark. Export is, nevertheless, confined to relatively few larger enterprises, while most SMEs do not export. Main reasons are lacking experience, knowledge and resources. Globalisation and international markets put new demands on companies’ adaptability, competences and resources.

Smart Specialisation areas in Denmark:

The Danish law on business promotion (2018) has set the framework for the work on the new national Smart Specialisation Strategy. It has stated that 10-12 positions of strengths must be defined, each supported through a national cluster. Based on thorough analyses of areas of economic and research-based strength a list of 13 business and technology areas has been defined (presented in the draft Decentralised Strategy for Business Promotion 2020-23,  https://erhvervsfremmebestyrelsen.dk/sites/default/files/udkast_til_strategi_for_decentral_erhvervsfremme_2020-2023_ny.pdf - accessed January 2020):

  • Environment technology
  • Energy technology
  • Food and bio resources
  • Maritime business and logistics
  • Life science and welfare technology
  • Building and construction
  • Design, fashion and furniture
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Digital technologies
  • Finance and fintech
  • Tourism
  • Robots and drone technology
  • Animation, gaming and film production

It still needs to be decided if all business and technology areas will be included in the future national S3 (January 2020).

Main objectives of the RIS3

With the new national innovation and smart specialisation strategy (draft version, January 2020), Denmark aims at supporting productivity, competitiveness and internationalisation of Danish companies through an efficient, coherent and locally embedded business and tourism engagement which takes as its starting point the need, opportunities and challenges experienced by companies in all parts of Denmark. 

Main objectives concern digitalisation and green transition. Another important ambition concerns a simplification of the Danish business support system, with fewer and stronger stakeholders and easily accessible services. It is also an ambition to deliver services through partnerships and cooperation, providing companies with the best opportunities for development.


Development projects and activities in the national Smart Specialisation areas are funded through specific calls within the EU Regional Development Fond and the EU Social Fond. In addition to this, national and decentralised business support means fund activities and projects with strategic or specific objectives.

S3 Monitoring system

The monitoring system as it functions based on existing structures consists of three areas of activities: 1) collection of data based on programme and project specific indicators, 2) involvement of stakeholders in the Monitoring Committee and in partnership meetings and 3) open access to data and analyses on progress and business development. 

Collection of data is done at project level and based on indicators (e.g. ‘number of new products or services’, ‘number of growth plans developed’, ‘number of collaborations between knowledge institutions and enterprises’). The data is collected through project reporting every 6 months and further coupled with ‘Statistics Denmark’, the central authority on Danish statistics, to monitor progress. Project reporting is done by project managers through a national electronic project reporting system (PRV). 

Involvement of stakeholders happens at two levels: 1) the Monitoring Committee with a wide range of stakeholders representing different authority levels and organisations at national, regional and local levels, e.g. relevant ministries, regional and local authorities, social partners, interest groups as well as national contact points and representatives from the Baltic Sea Strategy and 2) partnership meetings open to all stakeholders with an interest in contributing to and discussing aspects of RIS3. The Monitoring Committee meets approximately once every 6 months to discuss progress in the implementation of RIS3. The partnership meetings serve as a communication forum presenting e.g. evaluation outcomes or proposed policy initiatives and adjustments from national or European level. 

Open access to data – any citizen can access data from project funded within European Structural Funds through a regional statistics bank (reg.stat) and through ‘Statistics Denmark’, the latter including data on all aspects of economy and society in Denmark. Also, an overview of all supported projects is presented at an interactive map giving users easy access to information about content, funding period, allocated EU financing, partners and project manager of each project. https://regionalt.erhvervsstyrelsen.dk/projektkort - accessed December 2019