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Bridges of knowledge and innovation

Minister for Higher Education and Science Ulla Tørnæs' speech at the international conference Industry 4.0 3 November 2016.

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Dear keynote speakers

Dear participants,

Dear hosts,

Thank you for the invitation to open today’s conference on this important topic.

Production methods are undergoing fundamental changes these years. Automatisation, digitalisation and smart manufacturing are sweeping across industries.

The 4th industrial revolution has started and with it come great opportunities as well as great challenges.

A few weeks ago I witnessed first-hand the many opportunities and challenges of the 4th industrial revolution. During a visit at the Danish IT University, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kasper Støy. Many of you might know Kasper Støy as one of the co-founders of Universal Robots – a robotics company which has been revolutionising the market for small robots and automatisation of production in small and medium sized companies.

At ITU Kasper is – besides lecturing IT students – developing a spin-off from Universal Robots. The vision is that robots should not only automate production processes, they should be able to cooperate with humans.

This is the 4th industrial revolution in action.

Denmark has a strong starting point

The Danish economy is based on knowledge and driven by innovation. That gives us a strong starting point on the brink of the 4th industrial revolution.

Excellent research, innovative minds and entrepreneurial spirit are the fuels that fosters the 4th industrial revolution.

To seize the potential, we must constantly strive for even better research, even stronger innovative skills and even more entrepreneurial spirits.

The Danish government is keen to create the best possible framework for this to happen.

Therefore, we invest heavily in research, innovation and higher education.

We have set up a panel – Production Panel 4.0 - which shall support and encourage the digital transformation in Danish production companies. We have made our first strategy for the development and use of drones and we have adopted Denmark’s first law for the space.

As one of few countries in the world it is Denmark’s clear objective to invest 1 % of GDP in public funded research and innovation.

And as part of the plan for the Danish economy towards 2025 we have announced a Competence-Fund of 8 billion Danish Kroner towards 2025.

The fund will be used to invest in competences demanded by the labour marked and to strengthen research and innovation. 

Strong research and strong innovation come from strong minds.

Therefore, we continuously strive to improve the Danish higher education systems. And we strive to create a better match between higher education and demands from the labour market.

Innovation centres build bridges of knowledge

Our investments in research and innovation go hand in hand with a strong international commitment.

The government supports internationalisation of research and innovation in many ways – one of them is through the 7 Danish innovation centres around the world.

From Silicon Valley in California to Munich in Germany and Shanghai in China, our innovation centres build bridges of knowledge between Danish researchers and Danish companies with potential international partners.

Last week I opened the 7th Danish Innovation Centre in Tel Aviv. Israeli research and higher education institutions have strong positions in areas where Denmark excel. Life science and clean tech is only a few of the areas in which the potential for cooperation is obvious.

In Silicon Valley our innovation centre has assisted in raising 42 million Danish kroner for a new project on energy efficient buildings.

In China and Brazil thousands of students learn about Danish education and career opportunities every year through the Top Talent Denmark programme.

I could mention several other examples and I would reach the same conclusion – our innovation centres build bridges of knowledge that fuels excellent research, drives innovation and strengthens the Danish position in the 4th industrial revolution.

Rounding up – knowledge creates value

Kasper Støy and Flow Robotics is an example of how Danish research, innovation and entrepreneurship combined can reach a higher level and revolutionise production.

The government is keen on creating the conditions that will make Denmark seize the opportunities of the 4th industrial revolution.

It is our ambition that high investments in research, room for innovation and entrepreneurship and facilitation of international knowledge-sharing and innovation-cooperation will foster many more entrepreneurs like Kasper Støy. And it is our goal that Danish knowledge and Danish companies shall be among the drivers of the 4th industrial revolution. 500 years before Christ a Greek philosopher said that the only constant is change. In the 4th industrial revolution I would say that the only constant is rapid change.

And the best way to tackle rapid change is through excellent research, high quality educations, innovative minds and entrepreneurial spirits.

Thank you for listening, I wish you fruitful further discussions.

last modified Nov 10, 2016