We are in the middle of planning our next innovation tour for our Communitech partners. It’s always an exciting time to dive deep into tech ecosystems around the world and explore the differences from Canada — and the similarities.

This time we are heading to the southern part of Scandinavia to explore the emerging Nordic tech ecosystem. Recently the World Economic Forum ranked all four Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland) in the top 15 most innovative economies. With a total population of approximately 25 million people, this suggests these four countries can do things that bigger economies can’t.

They also live in a world of constraint. The Nordic countries do not have an abundance of land, but they have leveraged their proximity to water to build offshore NG plants and wind power farms. Denmark has set a target to produce 50 percent of its electricity from wind power by 2020. Even now, during periods of low consumption and high winds, wind farms can produce more than 100 percent of Denmark’s power needs. Since 1990, Denmark’s CO2 emissions have dropped by 43 percent, even as its economy and population have grown.

Why do we care? These countries have decided that the innovation economy, and not the resource economy, is their future. They use innovation to build new resources (like wind power) and support the start-up ecosystem with support for colleges and university-led accelerators. They also provide research and support for private investors and researchers. It’s a collaborative environment that creates some of the most innovative companies in the world.

During our trip we will visit companies like Maersk, Danske Bank, Ikea, and Arla Foods to learn about what they are doing to build their own innovation capacity, and how they are leveraging the ecosystem to enhance this. We will visit the best accelerators in Denmark and Sweden and will look at ways for our corporate partners to leverage what they see in Denmark and bring it back to Canada. Finally we will meet key business and government leaders to find out how they work with the local innovation community to drive economic outcomes.

This is a learning opportunity for our partners to see things they wouldn’t see in Canada. To apply what they see there to the work they do here, for their benefit. It will also benefit Communitech as we look to build a worldwide network of innovative ecosystems to power the Canadian economy. Our startups, scale-ups, and enterprise companies will benefit from these types of relationships.

This trip is taking place in May 2017. If you have any connections in Denmark, Sweden, or any other Nordic countries, please message me so we can touch base with them and generate a discussion. We look forward to the opportunity to showcase our most innovative companies to Scandinavia and learn from what is happening there.

Look for more information in the coming months, and a full Nimble Hippo report when we return.

Photo: A Globe, by Mark Doliner, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

About The Author

Craig Haney
Director, Corporate Innovation, Communitech

Craig is leading the charge for corporate innovation in Canada. His work with Canadian Tire Innovations helped launch the LeanLab project at Communitech, helping large, non-tech companies become faster and more innovative by engaging with startups. As Director of Corporate Innovation at Communitech, his focus is to grow the ecosystem by exposing small companies to big problems they can solve for some of Canada’s largest players. Craig has an undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technonogy (MBET) from the University of Waterloo.