16 September 2014

Turning knowledge into innovation


The University of Copenhagen is now putting even greater effort onto encouraging student innovation and entrepreneurship. The University has opened one of several “innovation hubs” that will support and advise students with innovative ideas and turn their start-up plans into successful businesses.

Happily, plenty of students are already thinking outside of the box and are keen to apply their knowledge. The trick is to translate all those ideas into tangible products and bring them to market. Now the University of Copenhagen launches the SCIENCE Innovation Hub, which will help students get started as entrepreneurs.

At the Hub, students will meet other students who dream of starting their own companies, and receive professional and commercial advice from innovation consultants, experienced business developers, lawyers, accountants and, of course, the University’s own researchers, who will provide an academic sounding board for their ideas. A mentoring scheme will also be available, involving Danish companies of all sizes.

High standards

The Hub, which is part of a more comprehensive plan to enhance innovation and entrepreneurship, is designed to inspire students and encourage more of them to put their energies into innovation.

“The University’s core competence is its high academic standards. That’s what enables our students to come up with new ideas and inventions and solve problems that are out of the reach of the man or woman in the street. The Hub will support student innovation,” says Prorector for Education Lykke Friis.

Evidence suggests that students refine and develop ideas more quickly if they receive advice from scientists during the concept-development phase. Researchers at the University will therefore play an important role in the work of the Hub.

For the same reason, the University will now also increase its focus on integrating innovation and entrepreneurship into day-to-day teaching.

An open club

The SCIENCE Innovation Hub is not exclusively for students of the Faculty of Science at the University of Copenhagen. Students from UCPH’s other five faculties – and from other universities – are welcome too:

“Innovation processes are significantly enhanced by an interdisciplinary approach, so we also invite students from other universities to apply for admission to the Hub. Many projects only take off when students from the humanities, engineers etc., get together,” says Lykke Friis.

Students at the University of Copenhagen have long had access to advice on innovation and entrepreneurship, and this has boosted the number of “start-ups”. A good example of a student start-up from the University of Copenhagen is Daybuilder, a spin-off company that emerged from the Department of Computer Science.

Student app is up and running

The students Lasse Nørregaard and Philip Løventoft, along with their supervisor, came up with an idea for an application while they were working on a bachelor's project. Today, three years later, Daybuilder is running as a project at the Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen. In September, the Tryg Foundation donated DKK 2.5 million to a new research project, involving over a hundred patients, looking at how to use Daybuilder to stabilise their circadian rhythm.

Daybuilder is an online app for people with depression and therapists working in psychiatry. Patients use it to record their mood, sleep, medication, exercise etc., and to safely share the data with their therapists.

“We knew that we wanted to do something with apps, and so we talked to our supervisor, who suggested we develop one for people who need help. Not a lot of developers view them as a target group. That’s how we ended up working with people with depression,” says Lasse Nørregaard, one of the founders of Daybuilder.

The two computer-science students worked with patients and nurses to develop the idea.

“The University of Copenhagen’s student greenhouse Katapult, as it was called then, gave us a place to work and a little seed money to get started. But the most important thing was probably the advice and support we received during the process, and the business contacts that we made through the innovation consultant,” Nørregaard says.


Peter Ottesen, general manager of the UCPH Innovation Hub
Mobile: +45 28 75 42 13.