Photo: Adam Mørk

Converting more research into business opportunities

Friday 07 Apr 17


Jes Broeng
Director, Professor
DTU Entrepreneurship
+45 24 25 38 35

Research fields under Open Entrepreneurship

The current participants are:

  • DTU
    Photonics, nanophotonics, light sources, lasers, sensors and communication technology, artificial intelligence, big data, algorithms, virtual reality, augmented reality, and digital biology.

  • IT University
    Databases, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, software, game development, programming, etc.

  • Aarhus University
    Natural sciences and life science, including biomedicine, etc.

  • Aalborg University
    Medical technology, biomarkers, biomechanics, image analysis, etc.

DTU is participating in the new initiative Open Entrepreneurship, in which the Danish Industry Foundation and a total of four Danish universities are boosting efforts to commercialize research.

Open Entrepreneurship is the name of a new initiative with the participation of the Danish Industry Foundation and four Danish universities, including DTU. The purpose of the initiative is to increase the level of commercialization of university research.

One of the cornerstones of Open Entrepreneurship is to establish an independent business unit located at each of the four universities. DTU will establish the unit DTU Fotonik, which will focus on the department’s academic areas, including, among other things, light sources, lasers, sensors, and communication technology. The business units are established locally at the universities to ensure specific focus on commercialization activities.

“The business units will be established locally at each of the four universities and focus on a specific technological field with a significant market potential as well as research at a high international level. In addition, the business units will be manned by people with an academic understanding of the area, but who first and foremost have experience with entrepreneurship and business operation and who have a good network and market knowledge within the specific technological field which the business unit in question is focusing on. This way, we combine strong technologies, an interesting market, and a team of skilled people, who can successfully place the research on the market in the form of, for example, a new spin-out,” says Mads Lebech, CEO of the Danish Industry Foundation.

A skilled team is the key to success. This is the view of Jes Broeng, Professor at DTU Fotonik, who has been a visiting researcher at UC Berkeley in California for the past year and who will head the Open Entrepreneurship project in the years to come.

“People and relations are important when it comes to bridging the gap between knowledge and business. The conversion of research into commercial success therefore requires the involvement of the right people. Experience suggests that success is best achieved by commercializing research under the leadership of external entrepreneurs with market knowledge and experience with business activities, rather than introducing the research to the business sector under the leadership of a professor or a researcher. On the basis of inspiration gained in California, we’re bringing a lot of different types of activities home to implement them in a Danish context, which will allow us to accelerate the commercialization of research in Denmark,” says Jes Broeng, who works with innovation and entrepreneurship at DTU Fotonik.

"The agenda to create new companies and introduce our research to the business sector has been an important topic for us in recent years. "
Marianne Thellersen, Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Senior Vice President at DTU

DTU beat its record in 2016 as 67 new companies were established by researchers and students from the University. Nevertheless, DTU wishes to further extend its ties with the Danish business sector.

“The agenda to create new companies and introduce our research to the business sector has been an important topic for us in recent years. We’ve come a long way, but can always go further, and we therefore consider Open Entrepreneurship a great opportunity to become even better in this area,” says Marianne Thellersen, Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Senior Vice President, at DTU.

Initially, four universities are participating in Open Entrepreneurship, but if the results prove to be positive the method will be opened up to include more Danish research institutions.

Open Entrepreneurship will accelerate during spring and has received a grant of DKK 35 million (EUR 4.7 million) from the Danish Industry Foundation. The project will be evaluated on an ongoing basis in the coming years.