Wednesday, September 26, 2012 | 8:15 AM
In Denmark, as elsewhere in financially-strapped, slow-growing Europe, the government is looking to digital technology to encourage innovation and boost the economy without extra spending. Danish Minister of Science, Innovation and higher Education, Morten Østergaard recently visited Google’s offices in Århus University to discuss how to to spur Internet innovation.
Our lead engineer and one of the key designers of the Google Chrome web browser, Lars Bak, also hosted a public debate with the Minister in a crowded auditorium at Århus University. Some 100 students, start-up employees and university staff took part. The debate was also live streamed as a Hangout on Air.
During the Hangout, participants discussed how the Internet already contributes some 5.7% to Danish GDP, a figure that is expected to grow to 7.3% by 2015. Despite this success, participants suggested that Denmark could do even better. Lars Bak started his career in Silicon Valley before returning to Denmark. In California, he told the Minister, failure is an accepted part of the innovation process, whilst in Denmark, it remains hard to get back on your feet for those who fail early on. More generous bankruptcy and venture financing rules would help Denmark reach its full innovation potential, Bak argued.
The Minister soon plans to publish a broad strategy for innovation in Denmark. Lars Bak urged him to use this opportunity to rev up Denmark’s digital engine.