Strengthening of Danish food industry

The Danish food sector is placed third in size in the western world, and since 2009 Agro Food Park has focussed on becoming the innovation and growth centre for food in Denmark. With new facilities of 9,000 m2 Aarhus University will become a key part of the dynamic food cluster that has been created in Skejby in the northern part of Aarhus.

2018.03.20 | Rasmus Rørbæk/Lotte Rystedt

There is an increased demand for resource efficient and innovative food production. Photo: Colourbox

The world may very well be on its way towards a global resource crisis with a rising population, which means that we need more and better foods. However, an increasing food production puts greater pressure on the environment and climate of the earth as well as the scarce resources.

This challenge leads to an increased demand for resource efficient and innovative food production. This is the great idea behind the Danish food cluster in Skejby, where around 80 companies show a clear profile within food innovation, and being the nearest neighbour of one of Denmark’s new super hospitals in Skejby, the entire value chain from seed to nutritional value to waste can be examined by scientists and industry in close collaboration.

“Aarhus University has a unique position in Denmark when it comes to understanding the entire value chain in food production. We can do this thanks to our leading expertise within sustainable production of animal and plant based raw materials and our ability to create innovative food solutions together with our partners. When we move into our new buildings with 140 employees and students and infrastructure, it will create a fantastic research and education environment. We also look forwards to being able to create close and fruitful collaboration between the food and health industries,” says Head of Department of Food Science, Michelle Williams.

“The Department will become a part of the ecosystem in Agro Food Park and will be able to contribute with relevant expertise to a broad range of challenges in the entire value chain for the Danish food industry. There will only be a few places in Europe where this seamless connection can exist between research competence and the industry.”

Coffee acting as a catalyst

HortiAdvice Scandinavia who offers consultants to gardeners and fruit growers has a branch at Agro Food Park. They are one of the companies who experience the advantages of networking with other companies and staff within the food cluster.

“We benefit from having many different capabilities close by in relation to interdisciplinary collaboration,” says Head of Consultants Thomas Skovgaard Lund. He and his colleagues have, among other things received assistance and sparring in connection with legal, communicational and industrial policy matters from other companies with whom they share office facilities and canteen.

HortiAdvise Scandinavia already has an excellent collaboration with the Department of Food Science, and Thomas Skovgaard Lund is looking forward to having the Department’s new buildings just across the street.

“I am looking forward to more informal coffee meetings where it becomes easier to see what others are working with and to exchange ideas with one another. We need to show greater interest and look at the advantages of different perspectives” says Thomas Skovgaard Lund, who also look forward to increased collaboration around scientific experiments in the new greenhouse facilities.

Anne-Marie Hansen, director of Agro Food Park, is also delighted that Aarhus University now becomes part of Agro Food Park.

“This means an increased connection between the industry and the University and this can be a way to secure that more students are educated with relevant competencies that companies are looking for,” says Anne-Marie Hansen.

Currently the companies in Agro Food Park are already collaborating with educational organizations. A new survey shows that during 2017, 65% of the companies at Agro Food Park have been collaborating with one or more research and educational organizations. Anne-Marie Hansen hopes that this number will be even higher when the young talent layer moves physically closer.

“It will be easier for both the students and the companies to see the other’s capabilities and where to share knowledge. It could, for instance be students who take part in projects with companies developing a specific product or idea. In this way the students will be more aware of what the industry is looking for and the companies will be more aware of which competencies students from the different education programs can offer,” says Anne-Marie Hansen.


Further information

Michelle Willams, Head of Department

Department of Food Science, Aarhus University

Email: mw@food.au.dk

Phone:  +45 25 17 00 49

 

Anne Marie Hansen, director

Agro Food Park

Email: amh@agrofoodpark.dk

Phone:  +45 87 40 66 40

Food, DCA, Food, Knowledge exchange