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Photo: Ty Stange

Doing Business in Greater Copenhagen Is More Unique Than You Might Think

Strong business metrics and unique values led 50 foreign companies to establish operations and relocate staff to Greater Copenhagen last year.

Growth startups are meant to be born global and expand outside of their home market fast. Startup hubs like Silicon Valley and Israel are often mentioned as the best places to scale from, which might make the humble Danes overlook the many world-class strengths they have in their own backyard. Oliver Hall is a Brit living in Copenhagen who manages AI & Fintech Investments at Copenhagen Capacity. “All metrics show how Denmark is globally very competitive,” he says. “The World Bank has done an annual study of 190 economies since 2012, and every single year Denmark has ranked number one in Europe for ease of doing business. At the same time, Denmark tops worldwide rankings for innovation, cashless society, business competitiveness, digital society, and e-Government.

It’s an ideal gateway for tech-companies coming to Europe – indeed we have management teams in Europe, the US and Japan relocating with their families, even before the crisis hit – and it’s an ideal place to scale from”
Oliver Hall

”Last year, we attracted and fully supported 50 companies in opening their European headquarters, Nordic research & development centres or Danish sales offices in Greater Copenhagen. This created over 1,000 highly skilled jobs for Greater Copenhagen, with 133 talents relocating to Copenhagen.”

Pandemic promotes soft values

While the business metrics clearly speak in favour of Greater Copenhagen, there is also another angle: Denmark’s soft power. Coupled with the fact that Denmark is among the happiest countries in the world, is famously egalitarian and has a high quality of life in general, a lot of companies and startups are successfully relocating their businesses and talents here.
Covid-19 has been slowing down the number of companies relocating in the first half of 2020, but according to Hall, the pandemic has also proven the soft power of the country.

“In contrast to many other economies, most of the Nordic countries have women as Prime Ministers. We’re told by many foreign companies that Denmark has been a global role-model of responsible management during of the crisis. Denmark was one of the first countries to lockdown, it was the first to reopen, and society has returned to a new normality faster than others” he says.

Copenhagen Capacity hosted ‘Hack the Crisis Denmark’ – a hackathon to design and prototype solutions for the corona crisis, which quickly became Denmark’s largest ever hack. Copenhagen Capacity was also the Danish organiser of the European Commission’s ‘EU vs. Virus’ hackathon, which became the largest global hack ever in terms of its 2,000+ submissions. And even though the events were fully digital, it showed what Denmark is capable of.

”Its online initiatives also act to promote how society can digitally organise itself. People see these initiatives and think: I want to be a part of that. For the first event, we welcomed hackers from over 50 countries to build tangible solutions for society, including companies that were created during the hack” Hall says. “During the pandemic, people re-evaluate what is truly important in their lives. They spend more time with their spouse and children, which might start a reflection of work-life balance, flexibility and security in general.”

A lot of the companies we are tracking this year are relocating management teams over here – even CEO’s. They see Denmark as the ideal place to live for all those reasons,” Hall says.

No vampires

The influx of foreign companies proves the possibilities in scaling from Denmark for foreign companies and local businesses. Thanks to the high quality of life, they even succeed in relocating talents. For that reason, Hall does not think that local companies should be afraid that the influx could suck up all the local talent they need to grow their businesses.

Copenhagen Capacity attracts companies who are also bringing in their own foreign talent. They bring in management teams, directors, and specialists who contribute to the various ecosystems here”
Oliver Hall

The London-based company Venquis is among the businesses who recently opened their new Nordic headquarters in Denmark. The company audits companies’ processes in order for them to become more agile and efficient in their digital infrastructure, and fully supports them in facilitating their digital transformation.

Venquis has already landed contracts with some of Denmark’s industrial giants, and for each of these projects they recruit individual senior hires, to project teams of upwards of 50 people, from both inside and outside of Denmark.

“Their digital audits help Danish companies transform, and they bring in top talents who relocate to Denmark and mix with the local talents. It’s a net win which strengthens the local ecosystem further” says Hall.

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Facts about CopCap
  • Copenhagen Capacity is the official organisation for investment promotion and economic development in Greater Copenhagen. It is a multiple winner of the Financial Times/Nikkei “Best Foreign Direct Investment Strategy” award, as well the winner of awards from the World Bank, United Nations and New York Times
  • The organisation supports foreign companies, investors, and talent in identifying and capitalising on business opportunities in Greater Copenhagen – from initial considerations to final establishment
  • Their services are free of charge for all foreign-owned companies who want to establish or invest in Greater Copenhagen, and provided in full confidentiality
Denmark’s ranks

#1 in Europe: World Bank Doing Business 2020
#2 worldwide: United Nations SDG Report 2020
#1 in Europe: IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2020
#1 worldwide: United Nations E-Government Survey 2020
#2 in Europe: IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2019