Why Denmark fails to develop new, green technologies

We often hear that Denmark is a World leader in green technologies. Well, not much longer. That’s why I work with Rufus Gifford, former US ambassador to Denmark, and California-based green venture fund, Angeleno Group, to bring in funding

As Danes, we may be proud of our wind turbines, thermostats and district heating, but they are the winners of past efforts. Today, we do not have the eco-system to develop new ideas into profitable, scalable businesses. The reason: Nobody is investing in the middle stages, where companies need 10-30 million DKK (say, 2-5 million USD). So we develop new ideas, but can’t take them further.

The illustration below shows the capital a company desires to raise. In Denmark it is very low; the main reason is that we know it so hard to raise real money, so we ask for very little. Obviously, you can take your case longer with more money than with less.

How much are Danish clean and green companies then able to raise? Very little, as seen below. Approx. 1 million DKK, or ridiculous 200,000 USD. That’s not how you build a World class company that will help save the planet.

But why? Isn’t Denmark a World leader in clean energy? The misunderstanding originates from the fact that we are among the best when it comes to generate the ideas…CleantechCountriesInnovat

But nobody’s shopping… The actual investments in green, new Danish companies are very, very small.

There are simply no funds dedicated to clean energy investments in Denmark. Even more, there are no funds who have it as a part of their portfolio. As an example, Vækstfonden, the state-owned fund, has its hands in more than 40 different funds, none of them with a focus on clean technologies. In fact, they don’t even have a dedicated clean energy expert in-house. They simply don’t have an interest in this sector.

Luckily, others do. I spent two days showing the managing partner of the US venture fund, Angeleno Group, some of the finest cases we have in Denmark – along with former ambassador, Rufus Gifford.

Angeleno Group has 310 million USD under management in their 3rd fund and is right now raising their 4th fund with the same amount. Another 310 million USD for green technologies. That’s a lot.

It is my mission to help the Danish companies get investments from Angeleno Group, and perhaps others. It is a pity that we in Denmark cannot do better, but we are not saving Denmark, but the planet.

I took Daniel Weiss (managing partner at Angeleno Group) to see some of Denmark’s finest.

First, look at Nerve Smart Systems. Their innovation can control each individual cell in a battery (for electric cars, for instance) directly and independently, enabling much smarter, cheaper and not least more efficient storage of power.

Second, check out Bawat. All ships on the seas – 60,000 or so of them – must treat their ballast water to avoid spreading invasive species. Other systems use chemicals and a lot of energy, whereas Bawat uses a pasteurization technology and excess heat from the ship’s engines to treat the water without any discharge of harmful chemicals and using energy that would otherwise just be wasted.

And, not least, check out Heliac’s solar energy innovation. They concentrate sun rays using a “magnifying glass” in the form of a simple nano-structured film that concentrates the solar light. They can deliver heat cheaper than any other technology, including natural gas, coal and other black stuff. In utility-scale. That is mind-blowing.

– This article was written by 1st Mile’s CEO Søren Houmøller