Danish open local innovation center

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Danish open local innovation center


Peter Lysholt Hansen, Danish Ambassador to Korea. By Park Jong-keun

The Embassy of Denmark opened Innovation Centre Denmark at its location in central Seoul earlier this month. The center will advise Danish companies and research institutions on how to internationalize in this part of the world.

The center will offer personalized counselling, assistance, coaching and even inspiration. Its head is Maria Skou, a counselor at the embassy.

The Korea JoongAng Daily sat down with Danish Ambassador to Korea Peter Lysholt Hansen to discuss the vision of the center.

Q. What’s the main purpose of the center?

A.The center will add a new dimension to the embassy’s continuous efforts to assist Danish companies and institutions develop business and relations in Korea. It is easy enough to have an idea that you think might be relevant for Korea. But is it suitable for the Korean market and is there any basis for collaboration with Korean partners? We can advise about these issues in the centre

We hope to develop knowledge of what is of interest in Korea and we’d like to share our experience about how we achieve innovation and research advancement. This is why we developed an innovation center. Korea and Denmark have worked on different areas of knowledge transfer, so I think the center can be used as an instrument to promote such cooperation.

Why did Denmark choose Korea as the home of the center?

Before Korea was selected, there was a quite comprehensive process. We looked at a number of places. After a very thorough process, Korea was selected. In terms of research and development, we concluded that Korea is on the forefront. In different fields, Korea has a lot of patents and good universities strong on research, along with advanced research institutes including Kaist, Postech and Seoul National University.

What’s the most striking difference between Denmark and Korea in industrial structure?

Korea has what we don’t have in Denmark: A number of big companies. If you look at the Danish structure, we have no big companies. More than 90 percent of Danish companies are small or medium-sized. This is why we need to come up with different new ideas and innovations and we have to work with other countries to be excellent at them.

Could you give us some examples of innovations that Denmark or its companies have achieved?

One current example of how Maersk, the biggest company in Denmark, invests heavily in innovation at all levels. It is designing the world’s largest and most eco-friendly container ships, developing sophisticated software to improve logistics. Another example is what Lego is doing. Lego has a seminar called Lego Mindstorms where some of the most dedicated Lego users are invited to Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark. This results in major innovations and product development that builds business for Lego.

What are the most promising fields in which the two countries can cooperate?

There are many sectors in which Denmark and Korea can be mutually helpful. But I think green technology is a field that holds great prospects. Korea is trying to get away from using nuclear power for creating electricity and use other sources of energy. In Denmark, we have had wind energy mills over 30 years. And we’ve tried to integrate different sources of energy to be more independent of fossil fuels and oil. Now, wind energy alone can provide 25 percent of electricity in Denmark. The aim of the Danish government is to be totally free of fossil fuels by 2050. And to my knowledge, this is possible with the existing knowledge and technology. The big advantage is that our CO2 reductions will increase dramatically. And energy efficiency in buildings is another area where the Denmark government is trying to reduce CO2 emissions.

At policy level, where does the Danish government work on energy reduction and green growth?

All this effort started in the 1970s when the oil crisis hit our country hard. On Sundays, you could not drive your car because we really lacked oil. I think that made politicians think that we have to do something. So they introduced wind energy and were also very active in increasing energy efficiency. And they devised carrot and stick measures. The government gave incentives to households contributing to enhancing efficiency and strengthened regulation on those that did not. The big goal is to decouple our economic growth from energy consumption.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]
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