Innovation is in DTUs DNA. We help students and employees translate inventions and discoveries into enterprising businesses, and we engage in innovative collaborations with society as a whole. Innovation is standard in the curriculum of all our engineering programmes. All because we are driven by a will to develop new, sustainable ideas that can help solve the challenges the world currently faces.

DTU supports students, PhDs and researchers in translating ideas and research into commercial solutions that solve problems in the real world. We do this through incubation, training, counseling and facilitation of company collaborations.

Innovation for the benefit of society

DTU has one of the most well-developed ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship among technical universities in Europe.

This ecosystems helps bringing new ideas and inventions from the classrooms and research laboratories at DTU into the real world, where they can create new jobs and help solve tasks and challenges in society.

Innovation at DTU comprises four pillars, each with its own specific focus:

A large part of the new start-ups are created by students. But student innovation at DTU is much more than start-ups:

Through projects, events, internships, and student jobs, students gain experience and contacts within the business community, which ensures that students develop the necessary competences and that, in turn, companies benefit from innovative inputs from the students.

DTU is the business community’s university and thus takes part in a wide range of collaborations with companies regarding strategic research collaborations, continuing education, student projects, conferences, etc.

The interaction between the University and the business community ensures that theory is put into practice and that research is based on real-world issues.

The growth of start-ups at DTU shows that both students and employees increasingly manage to translate ideas into solutions that benefit society.

This growth is supported by DTU’s establishment of prototype workshops, scientific advice, funding opportunities, and research environments—together providing a unique environment centred on entrepreneurship.

Research at DTU often leads to inventions considered to have commercial value.

In this context, DTU enters into sales, license and option agreements with established companies and start-ups that can develop products based on technology from DTU.

Intellectual property rights (IPR) are a central part of the University’s business and underlines the relevance of the research community.

Be part of the ecosystem

A solid innovation infrastructure has been created at DTU. Below, we have gathered some highlights that show how innovation, entrepreneurship, and research are part of a larger whole at DTU - for the benefit of society.

  • DTU Entrepreneurship: a centre of research and programmes centred on entrepreneurship, which aims to strengthen the innovation ecosystem. 
  • DTU Link: innovation hub facilitating innovation programmes for small and medium-sized enterprises and an incubator for tech start-ups. DTU Link is located on Risø Campus and include desk/office-renting facilities and access to prototyping facilities and workshops.
  • DTU Skylab: an innovation hub for students and employees with prototype workshops, laboratories, events and teaching.
  • DTU Science Park: one of Denmark’s leading development environments for deep tech companies. Organizer of the Danish Tech Challenge, a growth programme for hardware companies.
  • Future Box: an incubation environment for deep tech and hardware companies. Future Box is part of DTU Science Park.
  • Open Entrepreneurship: a research project acting as a bridge between industry and academia.
  • PowerLabDK: an experimental platform for electric power and energy.
  • PreSeed Ventures: a DTU subsidiary specializing in funding entrepreneurs.
The innovation ecosystem at DTU
As part of the ecosystem, you can participate in events, pitches, and hackathons. You will be updated on the latest trends, get access to the latest research results within the technical sciences, and perhaps spot new talent.
Innovation is of great importance for the development of society in Denmark, and is therefore an area that DTU gives high priority to.

Student innovation - part of studying at DTU

As a DTU student, you obtain a world-class engineering degree. But DTU is not just lectures, exercises, laboratories, and project work. The students at DTU are part of an innovative campus environment where ideas are materialised and theory is translated into reality.

When the lectures are over, they still have access to workshops, libraries, and laboratories. At DTU, there are plenty of like-minded innovators and advanced facilities that provide an optimal framework for getting something extra out of their studies and the opportunity to help define the technology of the future.

The innovation activities are an integral part of all teaching, and both theoretical and practical courses where companies contribute with specific issues and projects are taught

Education and research in entrepreneurship and innovation are rooted in DTU Entrepreneurship 'Centre for Entrepreneurship in Technology'. The centre develops DTU’s study programmes and courses on entrepreneurship, which are largely practice-oriented and are conducted in close collaboration with companies and the business sector in general.

The centre conducts research into entrepreneurship with focus on sustainability, digitalization, and didactics. The research results form part of a continuous learning loop with the study programmes and practice.

'Innovation in engineering' is a practical course that takes students at DTU through the innovation process. The course provides students with innovation techniques that will be useful in their future projects.

The course allows them to learn the innovation process in a guided way and with constant support from a facilitator. It helps to make clear that innovation is tangible and easy to implement, not just magic.

Throughout the course, students will work in a multidisciplinary and multicultural environment, where they will broaden their perspectives on the world, improve their soft skills and make informed decisions together.

Students who have already attended the course were amazed at how many innovative and promising solutions they came up with. Many of the solutions may end up as a startup idea in DTU Skylab, which is an environment that can support its future realization.

Learn more about the course 'Innovation in engineering'.

DTU's Rector Anders Bjarklev talks about the course 'innovation in Engineering'.
DTU's Rector Anders Bjarklev talks about the course 'innovation in Engineering' which gives students at DTU competencies, skills and appropriate mindset to innovate and work in innovation teams.
The student project Danstar successfully launched the first student-built bi-liquid propulsion rocket on the European continent.
The student project Danstar successfully launched the first student-built bi-liquid propulsion rocket on the European continent.

Knowledge exchange with the industry

The essence of an engineer’s work is to find the right technical solutions to the challenges humans and society are facing.

DTU contributes not only by providing skilled manpower but also by collaborating with companies, organisations, and public authorities exactly where the challenges can be seen and felt and where the solutions will eventually be implemented.

There can be many different forms and levels of collaboration. From major strategic research projects with a high level of innovation to participating in stand-alone courses and events at DTU.

Through these collaborations, DTU gains insight into current problems and challenges and is given the opportunity to create technological solutions that can contribute to the sustainable development of society.

DTU encourages both small and large companies to consider a collaboration. Join in, when technological summits are held, find a relevant course, and consider whether an engineer-related issue could be solved by a DTU student. Once the dialogue is established, experience shows that there is much more to gain.

Technology transfer with commercial value

DTU is committed to ensuring that the technologies developed at the University will benefit society. Among other things, this is done through commercialization agreements with companies who can utilize the results of the research commercially.

DTU is currently engaged in 222 commercialization projects. The projects cover many different technology areas targeted at commercialization processes for both start-ups with spin-off technologies and commercialization agreements with established companies, based on long-term strategic research collaborations.

There are several ways to engage in a collaboration with a view to commercialization. DTU’s tech transfer unit has the full overview of existing inventions and technologies in DTU’s portfolio that are possible candidates for commercialization. In addition, it is also possible to engage in a strategic collaboration within a research area, with a view to developing new technologies that can be utilized commercially.

DTU is always ready to enter into a dialogue regarding the possibilities for collaborating on commercial activities and makes every effort to ensure an easy start. Contact the business developers at DTU Tech Transfer to learn more about how DTU can help create value for your business.

Start-ups and entrepreneurship

Compared to others, DTU entrepreneurs have a very high survival rate. Companies based on inventions from DTU are performing almost twice as well as other spin-outs and start-ups in Denmark.

94 per cent of the companies based on IP rights from DTU are still going strong five years on. These findings are concluded in a central business register report for the period 2000-2017.

In order to support the formation of start-ups, the university has - in collaboration with Accelerace - established the ‘DTU Start-up Training Programme’ as well as a number of other programmes in the DTU Skylab innovation hub. DTU furthermore has a mentoring programme where experienced business people are paired with DTU’s entrepreneurs to achieve faster development.

The University has also strengthened the funding for the commercial maturation of ideas and inventions from students and employees through the ‘DTU Skylab Funding Programme’ and the ‘DTU Enable Programme’.

Graphic showing the number of inventions, starts-ups and collavorations
Figures from 2021