It was a sad day for almost1000 Nokia-employees in Denmark when it was announced last year that the Finnish telecommunications company would be closing their Danish R&D department as part of a global consolidation process. But the combination of a sound Exit Programme driven by Nokia and creative heads in abundance has now resulted in 35 Danish start-ups and more in the pipeline. The companies are offered free office space in the former Nokia buildings at the waterfront in the southern part of Copenhagen.
To top up, a number of relevant public organisations have chipped in to help create new business opportunities. "We have received tremendous support from among other, authorities, Copenhagen Municipality, Invest in Denmark and Copenhagen Capacity, and we hope eventually to establish a mini-Silicon Valley with the skills that are gathered here. In addition to the creation of new companies, there are also ten external companies that have decided to settle in the area, and along with the fact that Aalborg University has also moved in, we hope that there will be synergy between both research and education, patents, start-ups and new product development, "explains Peter Ib, CEO at Nokia Denmark to the Danish media outlet Ingeniøren.
Investor for innovative GPS watch
One of the companies created by former employees in Nokia’s R&D center in Copenhagen is Acorn Projects who already developed their first product, a special runner’s GPS watch.
Chief Technical Officer at Acorn, Lars Møller explains: We were part of a very well-functioning team that in Nokia stood behind 80 million sold products in the market, so when I heard about the closure I was obviously shocked, but it also gave an opportunity to be creative, so I tried to gather the team, as we have been cooperating extremely well.”
Seed Capital has already invested in the Acorn’s GPS watch to allow the production of the first prototype.
ICT Project Manager at Invest in Denmark, Maria Hilligsøe Stubberup says: “This really shows what the Danish ICT cluster has to offer: Skilled people who are not only qualified, but also creative, full of initiative and good team players. I look forward to seeing how many new companies and business ideas will be generated and I hope that also foreign investors will eye the opportunities that this creates in terms of recruiting entire teams or tapping into start-ups.”
As part of a global consolidation process, upwards of 10,000 employees have been dismissed by Finnish Nokia since April 2010. As a consequence of this process, the R&D division in Copenhagen will be closing down by the end of 2012, meaning the dismissal of 950 employees.
With the establishment of a so-called bridge-team, Nokia put a programme in place to secure that the available talent and facilities could be leveraged into new R&D and business activities.
This has resulted in other companies recruiting employees or even entire teams from the Nokia R&D center, as well as the establishment of 35 new companies.