Is Denmark Europe’s new digital superstar?

By Nikola Jachanova

Camilla Rygaard-Hjalsted is the CEO of Digital Hub Denmark, which is a public private initiative founded in 2018 to ensure growth through digitalization in Denmark, she believes Europe needs a digital superstar, and that Denmark could and should be it.

Europe needs a digital superstar. Why not make it Denmark?

“Right now, Europe is being pressured by American and Chinese tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Alibaba. We need to give birth to our own European digital frontrunners in order to continue to create growth in our region and keep a thriving entrepreneurial environment. From my perspective, I believe Denmark should be this digital star. “


“Right now, there are other government funded programs for SMEs in Denmark, but not enough effort is put into companies that dream big and have a digital growth mindset. With Digital Hub Denmark we want to help digital frontrunner companies – companies that develop solutions based on transformational digital technologies, for example artificial intelligence. And we believe that the growth opportunities lie in machine learning and data. As the country with the most digitized public sector in the world, Denmark should definitely have the ambition to become a digital superstar. Moreover, Denmark has so many public data waiting to be used, which is why we offer to bring these data to the front runners in order to strengthen their competitiveness. We bring together the companies’ own data and selected public data. It is then possible to feed an algorithm with this massive amount of data to gain new insights about their businesses, their customers and partners. These insights provide rise to new business models. And here is the gold. With new business models, we can help companies accelerate their growth.


These three things stand in the way of growth

“In order to investigate which growth barriers exist for companies in Denmark, the team rented bus and drove around in all parts of the country to players of the national digital ecosystem, and we have learned three things. First of all, we’re neither great at networking nor tapping into the value of networks, eg. across West and East Denmark. Secondly, the companies are in a strong position for internationalization, but lack the skills or mindset to capitalize on the opportunities presented. As a small country, for many Danish companies the home market is simply not big enough and therefore, they will need to go global, or at least abroad, sooner rather than later.Third and lastly, we do not tap into the growth potential of data – maybe because it is difficult and you need to clean up the data first, but data really can help you understand your customers and reveal new business opportunities. The two first ones are also sustained by the GEDI (Global Entrepreneurship Development Index 2018), where network and internationalization are our two major weaknesses compared to the top 50 countries in the world.


It’s crucial with a national digital initiative

“If we are truly aiming to become a leading digital growth center in Europe, we need national initiatives that put digitalization and business growth on the agenda, and IWDK is just that, which is why we have backed the festival as a partner. It’s a platform where companies meet the new digital talents, and where business professionals network with each other, which is such a crucial element if we want to encourage more economic growth. As a national hub, we are the link between these national initiatives and international events in order to emphasize internationalization even more.


Fact box:

Digital Hub Denmark is a public-private partnership between the Danish Government, the Confederation of Danish Industry, the Danish Chamber of Commerce and Finance Denmark. Digital Hub Denmark was created in 2018 and will run for five years. It’s an initiative to create business growth through digitalization.