4 December 2019

290 new start-ups open every year


Researchers, students and new graduates from the University of Copenhagen set up an average of 290 businesses a year.

From left: Janus Benn Sørensen, Louise Herpig Ellegaard and Lasse Guldborg, founders of Clio. Today, Clio employs 172 people. Photo: Flemming Leitorp.

The University of Copenhagen (UCPH) produces hundreds of entrepreneurs. In 16 years, the University's researchers, students and graduates have set up more than 4,600 businesses as evidenced in a new registry-based analysis, which the University has conducted in collaboration with IRIS Group. This is equivalent to an annual 290 new start-ups launched out of the University of Copenhagen. 

And while entrepreneurial activities in Denmark are generally struggling to reach the level from before the financial crisis, there has been an increase in the number of UCPH-based entrepreneurs since 2009. It is especially new graduates and researchers who are increasingly setting up their own business.

Many jobs created

The new analysis also shows that the entrepreneurs coming from UCPH are particularly good at creating new jobs. The number of employees in their businesses has been rising steadily over several years, while the numbers of a comparable group of businesses are stagnating.

The entrepreneurs from the University often work with consultancy, health or information and communication activities.

Rector: The entrepreneurial mindset is alive and kicking at UCPH

Rector Henrik C. Wegener is delighted that so many of the University's researchers, students and graduates become business founders and bring their skills into play for the benefit of society. He says:

- As a university graduate or a researcher, you have acquired a great deal of expertise and knowledge. It’s wonderful that so many people dare take the plunge and create something new out of their skills. The universities' expertise should find its way into society in all manners, and the entrepreneurs are indeed a driving force to that end. Hats off to their courage and the huge effort it takes.

Key figures for the value of entrepreneurship at the University of Copenhagen, 2016. The figures only include businesses with at least one full-time employee or recorded sales of more than DKK 1 million. 

Historian ignited digital teaching

A fishing trip and a meeting with the editor of www.danske-dyr.dk inspired a history student from the University of Copenhagen and a fellow student to create more topical and inspiring teaching material for primary and lower secondary schools.

Together with an IT skilled friend, they founded Clio Online ApS. The updated and interactive material was in great demand, and in just a few years the business had become the supplier of teaching material for all grade classes and most subjects. The founders' network from college was initially used very actively to source expert knowledge for the new teaching materials.

The business (now CLIO) grew rapidly and was sold to Bonnier Publications in 2015. It now employs 172 people.

Read more about CLIO in the report (in Danish)

Computer-science buddies launched an AI start-up

Forecast was founded by four fellow students from the Department of Computer Science who had already been toying with entrepreneurship during college.

From left: Danny Larsen, Jens Pallesen, Dennis Kayser, Niels Frederiksen. Photo: Daniel Lupascu

While gaining job experience, they discovered a need for a simple and efficient project management tool based on artificial intelligence, AI. The tool may save large amounts for businesses on account of lost resources due to poor project management. In 2016, Seed Capital saw a great potential in the software developed by Forecast and invested DKK 3.5 million.

Today, Forecast has 42 employees and plans to open offices in London, the USA and Australia.

Read more about Forecast in the report (in Danish)

Most young entrepreneurs are from the humanities or social sciences

Students and new graduates make up the majority of the UCPH-based entrepreneurs, with primarily the humanities and social sciences programmes turning out young entrepreneurs. 58 percent of the students and graduates from the University of Copenhagen who start their own business come from the humanities or social sciences. And the businesses they found are good at creating both jobs and sales.

58 percent of the students and graduates from the University of Copenhagen who start their own business come from the humanities or social sciences.

On the other hand, the University’s natural and health science researchers more often embark on a career as entrepreneurs. 39 percent of the researchers who have started their own business come from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and 24 percent from the Faculty of Science.

Full report (in Danish). Here, you can read more about the CLIO and Forecast case studies as well as three more positive start-up cases stories born out of the University of Copenhagen. 

About the report:
The report ‘Entrepreneurship at the University of Copenhagen’ is based on a combination of registry-based data, desk research and interviews with entrepreneurs and key individuals at the University. The analysis and the report have been prepared for the University of Copenhagen by IRIS Group.