Denmark is firmly focused on the innovations driving tomorrow. Its leadership in the green transition makes it home to three of the world’s most sustainable companies, while data from fDi Markets shows that more than 20% of inbound projects since 2015 were in software and IT. Maria Nilaus Tarp, director of Invest in Denmark, reflects on the pandemic and shares her vision for 2021.

How has the pandemic impacted Invest in Denmark’s operations and objectives?


We are still clearly focused on attracting high-quality and sustainable investment, but we have temporarily increased our focus on retention. Our experience is that most investors have only postponed their investment decisions, so we have invested significantly in maintaining dialogue with them.

The crisis has obviously accelerated the transition towards digital platforms and marketing automation. I’ll be honest, we had to learn and internalise this within the organisation, but we’ve seen pretty good results. We’ve had digital roundtables and webinars with more than 300 potential investors and with good dialogue, which pleasantly surprised me.

While some industries have been hit hard this year, others haven’t been affected. Life sciences, tech and cleantech, which are focus areas for Invest in Denmark, have posted strong revenues, which means we won’t fall too far short of our 2020 key performance indicators (KPIs). 

Denmark ranks fourth — and the highest in Europe — in the latest Ease of Doing Business rankings. How does Invest in Denmark contribute to this? 

The Danish ranking is a result of years of policy development focused on improving the investment framework and business conditions. We support that by contributing our experience and insights to this process. Foreign firms also appreciate that they compete on equal terms with Danish businesses and no one can negotiate for special benefits. They value this transparency.

Tech is a major driver of inbound FDI. Which segments have the most interest and potential?


This is a major focus area, both in its own right and as a supporting element in a broader range of investments. For example AI and quantum tech, which see growing interest, have applications across a broad range of areas.

The huge robotics cluster in Odense, Denmark’s third biggest city, has attracted significant investment in recent years while in 2020 digital infrastructure and medtech have been a focus, plus other areas that help businesses operate remotely. And despite fears that Covid-19 might slow the green transition, we’ve seen a lot of investment in cleantech.  

What role should IPAs play in sustainable development? 

IPAs can play a significant role in promoting sustainable business opportunities and bridging the knowledge asymmetry between investment possibilities and foreign businesses. We’ve had investors tell us: “We want to do it in a sustainable way, and that’s one reason we chose Denmark.” For me, that is particularly satisfying.

We’ve spent the past year fine-tuning a new sustainability investment evaluation tool that will help our team pursue companies that support Denmark’s transition to a green economy. In essence, we will ask ourselves and the investor a series of questions at the beginning of our dialogue to ensure they are aware of the possibilities to invest in a sustainable way. In 2021 we will also introduce a sustainability KPI, to fully-integrate this target into our organisation.

What are the top items on your 2021 agenda?

We hope to pick up on the projects put on hold in 2020, and we have to understand how the crisis changes the Danish value proposition so we can recalibrate our effort accordingly. The Danish government’s priority is to restart the economy, but, instead of just returning to the status quo, it wants to use the opportunity to strengthen its green ambitions and create an even more sustainable recovery. So that will be a big priority for us.

Overall, our ambitious goal is to attract investments with a focus on creating commercial value through a positive impact on both planet and human development. 

Maria Nilaus Tarp is the director of Invest in Denmark, which is part of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

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