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By Jes Broeng, serial high-tech entrepreneur, professor and director of DTU Entrepreneurship, programme manager for Open Entrepreneurship

A year ago, we were in the midst of a historic time of change. We still are, but since the latest From University to Unicorn, the historic time of change has taken a new and unexpected turn: from a global pandemic to war on European soil, galloping inflation and the prospect of a major recession.

The crisis is apparent and it is global. The security situation is new and the economics are different – both for individual families and for knowledge startups that rely on the investment community to build their solutions.

But necessity breeds creativity, and in times of change, entrepreneurs are a special breed. They both see and create new opportunities. Some of today’s great companies were founded during the last financial crisis in 2008.

Startups eye opportunities

The startup scene is a contingency. When a crisis hits, the startup scene eyes new opportunities – and quickly adapts and seizes them. Who was the first to come up with a new vaccine when the pandemic hit? A small startup called Biontech.

The example shows how important the pipeline of knowledge-intensive startups is for society. Right now, there is someone out there with unique knowledge and unique solutions – and when their niche suddenly becomes relevant in a new way, they can quickly move to meet new needs.

We see this reality emanating not least from the universities, where a broad and long-term desire for knowledge forms the basis. Deep knowledge and deep tech startups become a particularly important part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem when we don’t know where the world is heading. We see this not least in cybersecurity, quantum technology and crypto right now, which have great potential in security.

The big challenges

The challenges are great, but so, fortunately, are the opportunities. The green transition is really starting to gain momentum with a burgeoning ecosystem where we are seeing heavy investment from governments, venture capital and business angels, moving into the field.

Both challenges and opportunities were also discussed when Open Entrepreneurship held its annual conference last month. Open Entrepreneurship is a collaboration across all Danish universities to mature research with the common goal of developing commercial business.

At the Annual Meeting, we only confirmed how central this maturation is to the green transition and other major societal challenges – because new technology is not a solution in itself, but needs to get out of universities, into production and to the market to make a difference.

Fortunately, Open Entrepreneurship is just one of many efforts going in the right direction when it comes to building the ecosystem. This is reassuring, as we need more connections than ever – in line with this publication, which aims precisely to bridge and inspire across the innovation ecosystem’s innovators.

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