Aarhus has the potential to be the biggest digital start-up hub in Denmark

By Anna Krogh Søndergaard

When it comes to digital entrepreneurship, Aarhus has a lot of potential. The city is brimming with young people, and bridges are being built between the university and the city’s business environment. The potential is there, so how do we release it?

In our podcast “People First – in a digital age”, journalist Anders Høeg Nissen interviews Anders Mogensen, co-founder of Seismonaut & Gaest.com, and BalaSuthas Sundararajah, CEO at design and software company Redia.dk, about their perspective on Aarhus as a digital start-up city. This article is based on that interview.

Would you rather listen to their conversation? Find it here.

Big players attract young and new players

What kind of environment is Aarhus when it comes to digital entrepreneurship?

Anders: The city has a lot of young people, which helps growth and develops the areas that Suthas and I are working with. During the last years, the university has created a strong bond to the business environment in Aarhus and fostered ideas and new academic fields that turned into companies. In general, the young start-up environment in Aarhus encourages more to start their own business.”

“We need a stronger focus on the fact that entrepreneurship isn’t just about having good ideas. It is also about business and about the combination of those two. That’s why I think the university should put an even bigger effort into cross-disciplinary co-creation.”
– BalaSuthas Sundararajah, Radia

Anders: “It is also important to mention that the current momentum is possible because some big players already are situated here. Uber used to have one of the most well functioning departments globally right here in Aarhus, and both eBay and Google have created strong positions here. In this way, the big companies become role models for us smaller actors.”

Driven students need a business mindset

The digital university environment Katrinebjerg attracts a lot of digital competences to Aarhus, and in general the academic focus on digitalization is strong. But is there enough focus on entrepreneurship and business in Aarhus?

BalaSuthas: I think Computer Science (at Katrinebjerg, red.) generally is good at focusing on product development, which is a crucial part of being an entrepreneur. But for sure there’s space to focus more on product development and business strategy. We need a stronger focus on the fact that entrepreneurship isn’t just about having good ideas. It is also about business and about the combination of those two. That’s why I think the university should put an even bigger effort into cross-disciplinary co-creation.

© momentstudio

“IWDK creates these unique opportunities where people from the outside get insights into companies that don’t usually have an open strategy. We should do that even more, all year round, because it’s a great opportunity to learn from each other!”
– Anders Mogensen, Gaest.com

We need more matchmaking between students and business

So what now? Is there anything you are missing in order to kick off the positive  development in the future?

BalaSuthas: “As small business owners we are busy every day, but we need to engage with the upcoming entrepreneurs. But I also think IWDK could be a platform, where a match between students and companies was coined. A little push in the right direction could make this happen, because the potential is huge and there is a good spirit of wanting to help each other.”  

Anders: “IWDK creates these unique opportunities where people from the outside get insights into companies that don’t usually have an open strategy. We should do that even more, all year round, because it’s a great opportunity to learn from each other!”

© momentstudio