DTU Skylba innovation hub. Photo: Stamers Kontor.

Companies with inventions from DTU are doing well

Wednesday 09 May 18

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Anders Overgaard Bjarklev
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Companies established on the basis of IP rights from DTU from 2000-2017 represent a total value of EUR 470 million (DKK 3.5 billion).

Companies based on inventions from DTU create great value to society and perform almost twice as well as spin-outs and start-ups in general. This is the finding of a report based on figures from the Danish Central Business Register for the 2000-2017 period.

Where 54 per cent of spin-outs and start-ups generally survive for five years, the corresponding figure for companies based on an agreement on IP rights from DTU is 94 per cent.

“As an elite technical university, DTU has a special commitment to deliver tomorrow’s technologies. We give priority to the development of an innovation culture that cultivates and promotes entrepreneurship and start-ups, and we are therefore pleased to see that the ideas lead to viable companies and create jobs and value for Denmark,” says DTU President Anders Bjarklev.

He points out that a number of the most successful companies—in addition to creating hundreds of new jobs and strong profits—are distinguished by solving major societal problems and contributing to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This includes a company such as Glycom, which has developed new types of infant formula, Amminex, which has developed new chemical solutions to reduce pollution from diesel cars, and Aquaporin, which has developed biological membranes for water filtration.

The report on DTU start-ups from 2000-2017 shows that the companies represent a total value of EUR 470 million (DKK 3.5 billion).

The report is based on a very conservative calculation method, where the value of the companies is determined as the company’s equity multiplied by the valuation achieved at the latest capital increase. Of the 70 companies established during the period, only four companies have closed down, and a total of 675 new jobs have been created.

According to Jens Lage Hansen, MSc in Engineering, who has helped to start the companies Intomics and Aquaporin, there are several reasons why start-ups with IP rights from DTU do better than start-ups in general.

“Many of the technical patents taken out from DTU create completely new technologies and products in the markets they enter. In itself, this results in a position of strength without competition, where start-ups with low-tech content and products without special differentiation in an established market meet the competition from day one,” says Jens Lage Hansen.

Aquaporin’s development from the acquisition of IP rights from DTU to the finished product has been a long journey from an idea of replicating nature’s way of filtering water in cell membranes to a product that can purify water in large industrial plants. The main markets for the membranes are filtration of consumer water in private homes in China and purification of wastewater from industrial production.

Another growing market is desalination of seawater, which can take place with a lower energy consumption, and, finally, Aquaporin has recently been on a space trip with the European Space Agency (ESA), which wanted to test the membranes’ ability to refilter water on space stations.


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