How TechBBQ is Energizing Denmark’s Start-Up Scene

Tech festival founder talks about why he’s bringing entrepreneurs and investors to the largest tech summit in Denmark.

This year’s TechBBQ has just come to an end, but it is always a good time to talk about Denmark as a frontrunner regarding tech innovation.

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TechBBQ is the first, oldest and largest tech innovation summit in Denmark, bringing together Danish and international investors and entrepreneurs over the course of two days in Copenhagen. More than 1500 startups, 250 investors and 3500 people have attended the summit.

Denmark in New York spoke with Klaus Nyengaard, the founder of TechBBQ, and Søren Jessen Nielsen, the founder of non-profit Nordic.AI, a partner and attendee of the TechBBQ, about what makes both Denmark and TechBBQ driving forces in today’s tech scene.

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What makes TechBBQ unique?
TechBBQ is unique because it is the only major event where everybody from the local tech eco-system in Denmark and southern Sweden meet in person. Therefore, it is also the place for people outside of the community to get a sense of what is going on. This means international investors, journalists, politicians, and bigger corporations. TechBBQ energizes the tech scene and creates valuable connections — new investors, new partners, new job, new co-founder, new knowledge being spread, etc.

What makes Denmark a frontrunner when it comes to tech and innovation?
There are several factors behind this, and many would point to our good education system, good infrastructure, etc. etc., but I think it goes even deeper. In Denmark, as well as the rest of Scandinavia, the trust level in society is very high. This has a profound impact on our ability to collaborate openly with other people — that fosters group creativity and innovation. Furthermore, and that is also a cultural trait, we are in general open to new things, so we are curious to push boundaries and we quickly adapt. All very useful for a small country that needs to do well in a globalized world with giant nations competing. We do not have the domestic market to create big companies in major categories like cars, computers or soap — we need to innovate in niche markets and create our international leaders not through scale, but by developing a technology edge. Finally yet importantly, there is a re-enforcing factor: when you have a society, which technologically has advanced all the way from consumers via businesses to government institutions, this will also drive the demand for more sophisticated technology, i.e. our benchmark for what technology we use is increasing all the time.

What are the benefits for foreign innovation companies of doing business in Denmark?
Denmark is a small market, but it is an innovative market since we adopt technology faster than most countries — and this goes for both consumers, businesses and government. For international companies, Denmark can be a test bed when testing solutions. However, there is also a second reason to be in Denmark: Due to the high quality of living, the well-functioning infrastructure plus the solid education system, Denmark is a great location to place r&d (research and development) departments, international marketing functions, etc. It is not difficult to convince especially younger people from around the world that they should settle in Denmark and join an international company working out of e.g. Copenhagen or Aarhus, so it is a great place from which to attract talent.

Is there anything that Denmark should improve?
Danes are notoriously critical on their own country even though we by most standards are world class compared to almost every other country. However, there are of course some areas, where we need to accelerate. Personally, when it comes to our tech eco-system, I focus on areas such as introducing computer programming even more into the school system, lowering capital gains tax and making it easier for non-EU citizens with good qualifications to get working permits.

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Danish non-profit Nordic.AI is a partner of TechBBQ. It is an organization serving as a community for Nordic as well as foreign companies specialized in artificial intelligence (AI). The non-profit seeks to discuss AI from a Nordic point of view, displaying the latest trends from startups companies.

Søren Jessen Nielsen is the co-founder of Nordic.AI, established in 2016. This year’s TechBBQ was their first as a partner of the summit. They have brought with them five — ten start-ups to TechBBQ.

Why does Nordic AI focus on artificial intelligence’s Nordic perspective?
Denmark and the North is in a leading position when it comes to AI, so we want to be the ones showcasing the latest trends. We have to be the community for Nordic and foreign companies.

Why does Nordic.AI participate in the TechBBQ summit?
In order to attract startups and investors to Denmark, it is the place to be. It is also a great place to have a dialogue and debate about artificial intelligence, and even to demystify and thereby make AI less elitist.

TechBBQ is a brand in itself. As a partner, we deliver content and bring startups, but a lot of great things come from more than 3000 people coming together at the summit. It is a place to be visible and to brand Nordic.AI.

Silke Baumann is the Press, Culture & Public Diplomacy Intern at Denmark In NY.

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The Official Medium Blog for the Consulate General of Denmark in New York. For all things Danish, #DenmarkInNY.

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