The bio-economy: the next investment frontier for Denmark
The bio-economy has emerged as a new and attractive investment sector, with Denmark in the ‘box seat’ to become the future global ecosystem luring international investment, research and expertise, the Danish Parliament has heard.
Delivering an invite-only key-note speech at the Danish Parliamentary Environment and Food Committee’s hearing on the bio-economy on May 2, investment specialist Kristian Bennetsen of JB Equity identified the opportunity for Denmark to position itself as a world-leader in bio-economic innovation which will unlock international investment potential.
“Danish projects must have a global perspective, solve a global demand, or replace a global resource in order to be attractive to outside investors,” Mr Bennetsen said.
“The best way to do this is for Denmark to create a perfect ‘bio-economic ecosystem’ where there is a sharing of ideas between universities, research and industry. We will make our own Silicon Valley – a Danish ‘cluster’ such as ‘Biotech Valley’ – where new ideas will be tested, funded and scaled.”
The Parliamentary hearing brought together more than 60 ministerial officials and strategic advisors to hear from several experts in the bio-economic field including the Technical University of Denmark, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, Blå biomasse, Kopenhagen Fur, and the Environment & Labour, United Federation of Danish Workers (3F).
The Danish Government has its role to play in resourcing educational institutions and providing tax incentives to encourage investment and enterprise development, Mr Bennetson urged.
“We need our Government to first spark the investment in innovation through collaborative action, not just in physical infrastructure but also tax incentives aimed at industry to boost and attract adequately-skilled people,” he said.
“If the Danish Government fails to lend its support to a new Danish industry, how can we expect international investors to devote their venture capital to Denmark?”
With government-led investment and strategic support, Mr Bennetsen believes Denmark could become a “hinterland that supports the entire innovation process”, where investors establish themselves on the sideline waiting for the next bio-economic breakthrough.
Mr Bennetsen is a partner at the Edinburgh-based agricultural investment firm, JB Equity, whose global team seeks investment opportunities specifically in agri-technology and agribusiness. Recently, the firm established a £10 million funding vehicle to commericalise technology emerging from the leading science and genetics arm of the University of Edinburgh – the Roslin Institute – known for developing the world’s first mammal clone Dolly the Sheep. Additionally, in collaboration with Denmark’s own Aarhus University, JB Equity will have input into strategic commercialisation projects in a partnership that will launch in 2017.
Denmark has celebrated its status as a world-leader in renewable energy and pharmaceuticals, thanks largely to the collaboration between the state and private enterprises who have helped realise Denmark’s potential.
“Lets look at our successes and learn from them. Denmark has created a sustainable wind turbine industry and a pharmaceutical industry on the basis of a good ecosystem, and the State has provided financial support from the start to jumpstart the industry,” Mr Bennetsen said.
He said the bio-economics sector is not only good from an economic point of view, but also a social one.
“We have the power to address globally significant environmental and agricultural challenges through technology advancements and innovation, but in doing so we are creating value through investment and job creation along the way,” Mr Bennetsen said.
“Who wouldn’t want to make a good investment with a good return while doing something good for the environment and society? This is powerful and can attract venture capital and impact investing. Investment interest is greater when you can make a return on a social problem.”
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