No Comments

Help…. the Viking’s coming; at least Knud Erik Hilding-Hamann was at the Ministry of Science & Innovation.

The Danish Technical Institute’s head of its Centre for Technology Partnership, and is out to give some of the good oil on how Denmark’s gone about transforming itself into an innovation-led country in the past 10 years. (See his speech and power point presentation here)

Whether, or how much, the DTI’s model is used as a guide as to how Industrial Research Ltd transforms itself into an Advanced Technology Institute remains to be seen.

The 105 year old DTI has a different model to IRL, and of its €80.5m turnover last year, 34% was from consulting and development. Certification and testing’s 27%, training is 25% and other services 14%.

A question was later asked about the danger of DTI crowding out private sector consultants and advice — something that Hilding-Hamann says is an issue, though somewhat avoided through the review of performance contracts by the general and business public.

One area is have been growing however is R&D. Lately it has had a picked up a number of contracts from the European Research Centre — which rewards talented individuals and teams for excellent science. (See here for explanation of some of ERC’s role).

The DTI has grown from €10.3m R&D turnover in 2006 to €36.1m in 2010.

It is part of Denmark’s GTS network (roughly equivalent to NZ’s CRIs), which itself comes under the Danish Innovation System — driven largely by its Innovation Council. This sets the country’s innovation and science strategy, currently focusing on globalisation.

One thing that DTI has to do (as does every GTS), is every three years put out a performance contract — open to the public for a three month consultation. Though this was originally thought to be ‘extra work’, it fulfils a purpose of demonstrating actual value.

For future DTI projects and consultancy, it ‘shows what type of services we are expected to deliver and why companies should or will buy into that,’ says Hilding-Hamann. ‘It’s the foundation for a pipeline of services that are unique, not in the market, and that companies need to develop competitiveness.’

Denmark’s often considered to be a bit like NZ, mainly because it had a strong primary industry base to its economy, and is small.

One area it is completely different to NZ is in its manufacturing. The numbers involved may be similar, though Denmark’s dropped 100,000 people in the sector in the past 10 years to 350,000. However, the interesting component is even though Denmark has struggled to retain home based manufacturing, its companies in total employ another 1.5million people around the world.

So DTI (and the GTS network) spends a lot of time and money developing the commercialisation of research — really helping companies to do so — and audited in how well they succeed.

Talking to Knud after the presentation, he observed that Denmark has exactly the same challenge as New Zealand in growing small companies into large ones — surprise, surprise, they get bought by foreign owned companies as well.

However, it is also clear that Denmark has changed its culture and business thinking about successfully implementing innovation. The Danish innovation system (slide 3 on the presentation) is a well-thought-out framework to turn an idea into income.

The inspiration and motivation for this culture change has started at the highest level of government. As Steven Joyce grapples with not only the science and innovation system, but also economic development and education changes to boost value-added products, it is the culture change aspect that is key to how we reinvent ourselves.

Joyce’s role as prime innovator is as much about changing attitudes as it is about institutions and systems — which, though unstated, is the real feature of the Danish transformation.