Meet Martin Broch Pedersen – our new Innovation Consultant

Martin B. Pedersen, new Consultant at ICDK
Martin B. Pedersen, new Consultant at ICDK

Martin Broch Pedersen has over the last 20 years worked extensively with technology and healthcare, both locally and globally. He has participated in two successful startups as well as worked as a CEO for another Danish start-up, Configit. Passion for focusing on a company’s core competences and making teams excel, as well as the ability to try out new ways, have been some of the reasons for success.

Martin also joined two larger organizations, first Tieto from Finland, which bought his first start-up, and until recently, CGI. In both organizations, Martin had the overall responsibility for delivering Healthcare-it solutions to the Danish market. Focus has been on solutions for laboratories and for electronic medical records, and next generation “citizen centric” healthcare solutions.

At Innovation Center Denmark, Martin works as a consultant focusing on Healthcare/Life Science and Tech. Martin will work with large Danish corporations and startups, and help them grow, innovate and build new business relationships using the many resources available in Silicon Valley.

Which trends and developments excite you most in Silicon Valley right now?

“From a healthcare perspective, I think the convergence of so many technologies means that we’ll see real and drastic improvements over the next 5-10 years. Both when it comes to increased quality and reduced cost.  Wearables, improved battery technology, personalized medicine, community software, internet of things are all relevant themes for the healthcare sector. Seeing companies exploiting all of these, in collaboration with healthcare providers, will lead to drastic changes – hopefully disruptions!”

Everyone in Silicon Valley has an idea of what makes the ecosystem so innovative. Of all the elements the ecosystem is made of, which ones do you think are the most important for Danish businesses to learn from?

“One thing that stands out in the successful companies is the power of the nerd! The change agents in Silicon Valley are the innovative engineer, computer scientist or the creative team. They have room to reflect and create; organizations allow great ideas to grow and get attention. They get strong support from management and they get funding and resources to take ideas to the market. Fast! Combined with a willingness to take risk – and learn from failure.

Recruiting the best possible people is another key to success – companies compete for the talent, and talents want to work with other talents. It’s simple, but for me the recruitment process is the most important process in any company, and I think companies in Silicon Valley are extremely aware of this.”

Martin holds a Master of Computer Science degree from University of Aarhus and University of Oregon, combined with a minor in economy. Martin is also an alumni from IMD business school.

Get in touch with Martin Pedersen on LinkedIn

The Corporate Garage: Getting start-up agility and spirit into the corporate world

By Henrik Bo Larsen, ICDK Deputy Director and Innovation Officer

How do corporates find innovation capacities?

During my time in Silicon Valley, I have experienced a large number of pitches from start-up companies. The story is almost always along the same path: After being inspired to develop an excellent business idea, an entrepreneurial group of very skilled and bright people decide to start a company. And then the problems ensue:

They need to secure finance, get an organization established, develop and launch products, perform quality control, manage HR and regulatory affairs… Just to mention a few. All these issues turn out to be skills and capabilities that larger corporations already know all about.

However, not only does the start-up need skills that larger company are good at: when looking further into the life of a start-up: as cheap and easy access to technologies means that as soon as a start-up gets a whiff of success, it has to race against dozens of copycats from competing start-ups, who try to get the same idea off the ground. This is also a challenge which is similar to what existing organizations face.

Combining the strengths of start-ups and corporations
This is a very interesting dilemma. As an entrepreneur you need your swiftness and courage to start a company, but from thereon you need the structure and processes of an established company to really succeed. On the other hand, the agility needed to get new ideas off the ground is not what you see most of in established companies.

This is clearly a dilemma for every organization: it being new or well-established, big or small. How do you balance the agility of a start-up to develop new businesses with the structure and processes to grow the businesses?

Many large corporations try to answer this dilemma by establishing what managing partner at Innosight, Scott Anthony, calls “The New Corporate Garagein a Harvard Business Review article. The popular perception is that most corporations are just too big and deliberate to produce new game-changing inventions.

Hence a growing number of large Silicon Valley companies try to attract entrepreneurial individuals, or “catalysts,” that can use the mother company’s resources, scale, and growing agility to develop solutions to global challenges in ways that few others can. Intel, Google, Cisco, and SAP are examples of such companies.

How to launch a corporate garage within your company?
The big companies need to carefully consider the implementation of such corporate garage models when inviting catalyst entrepreneurs. At Innovation Center Denmark we consider the following three innovation capabilities when planning for a corporate entrepreneurship endeavor:

  1. Business models: Most business strategies I have read either try to justify the current business model or defend it. The company needs to develop the capabilities to understand the business model options in a broader sense – even those models that eventually will cannibalize your current solid performance business.
  2. Technologies: The big corporate needs to know and understand the recent technology developments of its and similar industries and consistently scan and scout for potential technology development and ideas in the entrepreneurial underground. This scouting often needs to come from outside the current domain of the company’s expertise, and the company need to develop capabilities to gain new ground.
  3. Mindset: Corporate leaders must critically examine to what degree their organization and themselves are capable of working together with the incoming entrepreneur catalyst. How do you and your organization deal with change and new ideas? Is your current mindset ready to explore new opportunities and to exploit the current business model and technology paradigms? And at the same time apply the structure and processes needed but keep the freedom of the entrepreneurial mindset?

As Lewis Lehr, the former CEO of 3M, put it: Innovation can be a disorderly process, but it needs to be carried out in an orderly way. The truly good manager finds the means to manage a disorderly innovative program in an orderly way without inhibiting disorderly effectiveness.

The speed of world change? It’s exponential my dear..

Imagine how far 30 exponential steps can take you. photofrom the day.

By Jacob Hagemann, Senior Commercial Advisor, Innovation Center Denmark, Silicon Valley

How fast is your industry moving and are there any signals that it is to be disrupted by exponential organizations?

This was the key question in a recent Copenhagen event that I had the opportunity to participate in. Organizers were the Danish Society of Engineers, IDA in cooperation with Deloitte.

Driving Technology  was the main theme, which in this specific case not only refers to actual driving technology like driver-less cars and other inventions within the transportation industry. It most importantly also refers to keeping up with the technologies that will influence your industry.

Imagine how far 30 exponential steps can take you. photofrom the day.
Imagine how far 30 steps can take you – if they are exponential! Photo from workshop.

Singularity University representatives were the guides throughout the day, and Salim Ismail did an outstanding job in presenting their take on what the future will bring us. Singularity University is not really a university. At least not in the traditional understanding of a university and they will not become one any time soon, simply because of the way they develop their programs.

To be a real university the curriculum has to be approved and go through different stages which often takes 1-2 years, meaning that there is a high risk that the curriculum will be outdated by the time it finally reaches students. This is partly what Singularity wants to challenge. There is a need to study, investigate and get involved in not only the present, but especially the future.

3D printed cars and disrupted business models

The fundamental thing that is part of everything inside Singularity is the exponential growth. Technology has been set free and we cannot hold back the development. This will happen at an exponential rate – think of a curve with a steeper and steeper climb.

The exponential growth is something that we as human beings have to adapt to in many ways. And one of these is certainly how we set up our companies for growth and survival in a world where disruptions come from everywhere. No one is safe as a team of 2-3 young entrepreneurs in a garage can change business models everywhere.

AirBnB and collaborative consumerism. Photo from day.
Airbnb and collaborative consumerism. Photo from workshop.

An example of a complete change in industry is collaborative consumption and how Airbnb built the world’s largest “hotel” business without owning a single property.

One of the really exciting cases came from Local Motors, who were also represented at the conference by Damien Declercq, EVP for Europe, Asia and Africa.

Damien gave us a fascinating introduction to the work of Local Motors and the one thing that really caught my attention as the fact that they recently 3D printed a full car during 42 hours at a trade show. And then drove away in it :)

Altogether these impressions really make you think about where the future is going: How fast is your industry moving and are there any signals that it is being disrupted by exponential organizations?

Contact Jacob Hagemann for more info.

City Innovation: Inspiration from the World’s Best

City Innovation

Many might associate Denmark with healthy and happy people, a horde of bikes and a sustainable energy and electricity system including wind and district heating.

Copenhagen and Innovation Center Denmark were therefore invited as representatives as some of the most remarkable cities gathered at the City Innovate Summit in San Francisco this recent week.

City Innovation
City Innovation

While the Danish capital does indeed focus heavily on incorporating innovation and technology in development of existing as well as in the building of new neighborhoods, here is an insight into the newest projects from all over the world:

The city is the new smart phone

The common denominator is that to create a city that encompasses everyone, everyone must be involved in the planning. Silicon Valley executive Peter Hirshberg compares the city to a LEGO brick, a place for building up, trying new designs, tearing down, and building up again.

Look at the city as a smartphone: the place where developers and entrepreneurs get together to test out new ideas and solutions. What if we expanded the platform for new-thinking and innovations to be not just a smartphone but an entire city?

Recent trends in Tel Aviv, San Francisco and (yes!) Copenhagen, are to invite people to get access to the city data, space, sensors, and let them use the possibilities to create better solutions. It admittedly seems as a no-brainer, and the hardest part is surely also what concrete initiatives that can be brought forth in the cities.

Let’s look at a couple of the trends:

Trend 1: Free the data!

A number of cities have created portals, where citizens and companies can go in and access a lot of the (anonymized) data generated in the city. While the opening of data can not stand alone, the will to implementation of the ideas must follow.

An example is a San Francisco Urban Hackathon (a hackathon is an event where citizens and groups are invited to “hack” the city, meaning trying to solve problems in a new way), where a group made a map of all reported crimes and visualized it to find the “worst areas”. The police greeted the map as documentation of where they should put a larger effort, and the citizens were happy that their neighborhood problems were finally taken seriously.

Trend 2: Public sector innovation

Instead of leaving innovation and competitiveness to the private sector, a number of companies have started to make innovation part of the daily agenda. A number of cities have named a city official the Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Technology Officer. Those officers have broad areas of operations, and see if things can be optimized – both in the city and within the governing body. In Oakland, California, the office hands out “Most Innovative Employee”-prizes.

An initiative that has been used in the US on both a city and national scale, is the inclusion of private sector entrepreneurs acting as “intra-preneurs” or “Entrepreneurs-in-Residence” in public departments on a year-long fellowship, in order to bring new ideas to the table. An Entrepreneur-in-Residence in San Francisco for instance developed a system to ease navigation for visually impaired visitors throughout the airport.

The Code for America projects is worth looking into, with young designers and software developers trying to solve a number of tasks via virtual services as apps or text messages for citizens and administrators. Have a look at the video below describing a project: they might be joking a bit, but also shows what kind of tools that are possible when teaming up with entrepreneurs.

Trend 3: A city that accommodates ideas

Finally, one of the most striking trends is how a lot of cities really have realized how important innovation is, for instance, this year’s US Conference of Mayors had the theme “Innovation in Cities”.

“The trick is to make people think that government is fun – not the normal adjectives as lame, boring or basically anything but fun,” explains Director of Young Adults Michael Vole from Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv is the city that is consistently ranking in top 3 when Innovation and Entrepreneurship-rankings are published. The city has invested in the entire ecosystem around creativity, including free wifi, affordable housing, startup visas, a strong gay community (which for some reasons seems to be present in many innovative cities), and in general opening up start-ups for everybody, so that also elderly, school-kids and parents can see, what it takes to turn ideas into businesses.

He explains how they have also taken city officials out to meet people where they are – that is on online platforms and by giving brief 20 minutes talks in bars and cafes. Lastly he mentions how they have taken a number of public buildings, and turned these into study halls and co-work spaces when they are not in use.

City Innovation: Where to start?

With a lot of trends and possibilities, where do you even start? Looking at Danish examples, we have found three examples:

InnoCamp: Involving students, local industry and public institutions in a innovation competition, leading to actual tools for participating case companies.

Zero-Waste City: A Danish town where citizens compete about minimizing their waste. Another version is the Californian Coolest City Challenge, where you get points if you are below similar households.

Ideas from future users [Here is no link, as you probably know better who to contact in your community]: If you have an educational institution like a school, Danish “efterskole”, high school or a university college, then try to ask if they would be willing to work on a joint project, getting the students to point out problems and find potential solutions.


For further information, feel free to contact Innovation Officer Christian Vinther: chrvje (at)

Knock, knock…

– Who is there?

Billede 27-04-15 15.40.24

…..Innovation Centre Denmark is! Or to be completely precise, we are here if you knock on the heavy green marble door at 200 Page Mill Road in Palo Alto. But actually you should not knock. Then you will not be heard. Use the shiny doorbell instead, and your arrival will be announced throughout the entire office (Quite the entrance, huh?)… Now you have made it through the door, so what can we do for you?

(HINT: If you are not quite sure what we can actually help you with, then please, keep reading. You’ll know in a couple of minutes)

Who are we?


The person to let you in through the green door will probably be our Office Manager Marie Noerskov. She has been our Office Manager since the 1st of July 2014, and she came from a position in Denmark as PA to the Minister of Health. This is the first time she is featuring on the blog – welcome Marie! We are so happy to have you here.

Beside Marie the Innovation Centre also houses our Managing Director Søren Juul-Jørgensen, Innovation Attaché Mikkel Skovborg, CleanTech experts Christian Vinther, Ali Mushtaq and Ed Beardsworth, Deputy Director and Life Science expert Henrik Bo Larsen, ICT expert Carsten Jarfelt, Bent Hessen-Schmidt and Kristoffer Roerbaek from Invest in Denmark, and finally our three interns Kristina Hansen, Søren Engelbrekt and Line Rodil.

The Silicon Valley Bridge

At Innovation Centre Denmark our main purpose is to bridge Denmark and Silicon Valley. This being both in regards of helping Danish startups immerse into the American market but also in terms of attracting investments to Denmark like the recent successful example of Apple’s ambitious data center plans in Viborg.

Scale and accelerate in the valley

If you are a startup in Denmark dreaming about scaling your business to the US, we can help you. We have a whole initiative called SCALEit consisting of three programs in total. Twice a year we help startups with scaling potential to get a foothold in the vibrant Silicon Valley ecosystem through the SCALEit Ignite program. Throughout this weeklong program you as an entrepreneur receive training in the art of pitching, attend marketing, networking, sales and legal sessions, pitch to potential investors, and tap into the network of the Innovation Centre. Christian Erfurt, CEO of Be My Eyes, shares his SCALEit experience:

“SCALEit was a wonderful introduction on how a life/business setup could be like. It is an intense program where you get to the core of your business and your reasons for doing as you do. It was a great way to see words put into action.”

If you are interested in learning more about the SCALEit program, contact Christian Vinther or sign up for an interview here.

Innovation and corporate inspiration

Silicon Valley is not only for startups. Also established corporations can benefit from being present in the Valley. When doing business in the valley one should have a local address and phone number here. That’s how investors and potential new business partners know that you are serious about doing business. If that seems a bit much in regards of your needs, we have just the solution: Join us at the Innovation Centre, where we have office space that you can rent, and virtual office services that will make you appear as a local with a base in the Valley. When being present here at the Innovation Centre, you also have the opportunity of getting consultancy from our sector experts, and learn how your business will be disrupted or changed in the near future, what competitors should you be looking out for, and why. Contact Marie Noerskov to learn more about these services.

We do consultancy and inspirational workshops aimed at both the private and public sector. Recently we had the Department of Health and Care from the Municipality of Aarhus visiting to learn about healthcare in the Bay Area. Denmark is very advanced in our approach to healthcare and assisted living but this does not make the municipality of Aarhus rest on their laurels. Recognizing that technologies and ideologies from other sectors and providers are to be learnt from, is just one of the ways of innovating for the future.

Are your corporation ready to innovate? Do you know your products and competitors of tomorrow? Whether you do or not, please feel free to reach out to Henrik Bo Larsen, and learn more about how Innovation Centre Denmark can help your corporation with new insights and inspiration straight out of the Valley.

Are you more in search of research collaborations? Mikkel Skovborg and Kristina Hansen make up the Research and Technology team focusing on strengthening the ties between Danish and US research. This includes establishing networks and contact between Danish and Californian research communities, promoting Danish research, innovation and higher education through, among other things, Danish-Californian workshops, conferences, and exchanges, and finally to collect and disseminate best practice in California within science, innovation, and higher education. If you wish to learn more about the possibilities of research collaborations, please don’t hesitate to contact Mikkel.

What can we do for you?

We hope this gave you some insights into our offerings at Innovation Centre Denmark. Remember – just go to the heavy green marble door at 200 Page Mill Road and ring the bell, or contact any one of us by mail or phone. We look forward to asking:

“What can we do for you? – Innovation Centre Denmark is here to help you”

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