Denmark is a modern economy with high dependence on foreign trade, and with a financial position among the strongest in Europe. With few natural resources, the mixed economy of Denmark relies almost entirely on human resources, where the service sector makes up the vast amount of the employment and economy. Today, the service sector accounts for 68% of total GDP in the private sector, 64% of total private employment, and for 80% of new jobs in the country (Dansk Erhverv, 2010). Therefore, it is recognised by the Danish government that innovation and research, especially in the private sector, will be a key driver to sustain growth. As a consequence, initiatives have already been taken to boost Research and Development (R&D), especially with focus on creating a fossil-free economy. Where the EU countries still are negotiating about increasing the target for national investments in R&D, Denmark already reached the target of investing more than 3% of GDP in R&D in 2008.

Denmark historically has been one of the leaders in the EU in promotion of sustainable economies and eco-innovation. Denmark is one of the leading exporters of environmental solutions and technology; its R&D investments boosted eco-innovations in air, water, waste, energy, clean transport areas. Today, products and services related to energy and environment has become the second-largest export sector in the country, only surpassed by the transport sector but more important than food products. A number of sectors have high potential for future eco-innovations; among those are shipping, bio-technology, and industrial symbiosis. In Denmark a wide range of public Institutions are involved in supporting eco-innovation, either through policy-making (setting standards, strategies, programmes), or though direct funding or co-financing programmes for development and demonstration of new technologies, green business scheme, etc.

2012 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Denmark

Eco-innovation in Denmark: 2012 update

Eco-innovation in Denmark: 2012 update

In the 2011 update a transition of Denmark into a green economy was highlighted as a priority for the new Government. Then Government has since then been working on preparing new initiatives for strengthening the existing framework for development of eco-innovation and clean-tech industries in Denmark. A number of priorities have been identified during 2012, e.g. with support from a Panel for Green Transition consisting of advisers representing the private sector, and in October the Panel delivered a list of 9 recommendations for the Minister of Environment. These will now be considered in the development of the Government's new business and growth policy. The 9 recommendations are as follows:

  1. Develop and implement green innovative turnkey solutions showcasing pioneer technologies;
  2. Support an intelligent development and implementation of the bio-based society;
  3. Invest in sustainable water solutions and promote water efficiency;
  4. Develop and implement a holistic resource strategy;
  5. Focus on strategic priorities for international efforts;
  6. Ensure skills and knowledge that strengthen green transition;
  7. Promote resource efficiency and green transition through tenders and public procurement;
  8. Ensure that it is beneficial for industries and consumers to act resource efficient; and
  9. Review the regulatory framework to make it modern and to promote a holistic approach with focus on sustainable growth.

These recommendations are in line with the new programme for promoting Eco-innovation (MUDP - Miljøteknologisk Udviklings- og Demonstrations Program), which is established to support Danish enterprises in developing new eco-efficient solutions to meet Danish as well as global environmental challenges. Among others, it will focus on development of strategic partnerships, international cooperation and export with focus on BRIC-countries, support for development, test and (small-scale) demonstration of eco-efficient technology, and establishment of full scale solutions to prove the full potential of new solutions and new combinations of solutions. Priorities for 2012 will be water and climate mitigation, resources and waste, air pollution and noise, chemicals, and industrial enterprises. The Government will further, during 2012 – 2013, prepare a new resource strategy with initiatives that can contribute to a more resource-efficient society. It will focus on waste planning and waste prevention and on elements in new national energy agreement, which is linked to waste from biomass and natural gas.

Funded eco-innovation projects should contribute to the implementation of the resource strategy. In 2012, Calls for Project Proposals will focus on areas within construction and demolition waste - both in relation to waste prevention and recycling; solutions for recycling of metals and rare minerals from electronic waste; design of resource-efficient products, as part of the EU resource and product policy and the directive on eco-design, and collection and recycling of material resources in organic waste.

Overall, the focus is on linking eco-innovation with economic development, based on “Green Transition”. This is also highlighted in a recent report from OECD, which awards the region of Copenhagen to be in a leadership position in development of green industries and in fostering a green way of life. The focus on green transition has resulted in a growing clean-tech sector that fuels new employment. The Copenhagen Clean-tech Cluster (CCC) is key to this growth. Companies in the region have a combined turnover of €30 billion (2011) and at least €12 billion of this is directly related to clean-tech activities. The companies employ 78.000 people, and roughly 34,000 of these are working directly with clean-tech-related activities. In 2010, 44% of the clean-tech industries experienced employment growth, and only 9% experienced a decline. Green investment is thereby driving new business opportunities, and in the process generating demand for both new jobs and different types of jobs.

On the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard for the year 2012, Denmark advances to a second place with an overall score of 136 (ranked third in 2011 with a score of 138), after Finland with a total score of 150 and in front of Sweden with a total score of 134.
Last Updated on Monday, 10 December 2012 15:18

Follow the links below to read the full reports on eco-innovation developments in Denmark

2010Report  2011Report   Database

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