University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Where the businesses of the future come to life

Startup — A green circular building on North Campus has become a kind of ‘Dragon’s Den’ for budding new businesses.

Hidden behind the KUB Nord library you can find a circular building in a shade of pale green.

It was built up to the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen and was considered the first public-sector carbon-neutral building. Back then, it was called the Green Lighthouse as it lit up the path towards a more sustainable construction in the future.

Now the building is called UCPH Lighthouse and it is to light up the path for future entrepreneurs. The building hosts a University of Copenhagen initiative to strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the university.

On Friday mornings, the green building is buzzing with lively activity, as the lighthouse’s users meet up for a common breakfast and chat about how their startup companies are doing. As the hot pastry buns are passed around, so does the banter. You have to present yourself, your idea, and report back on a highlight from the past week.

This March morning, a number of different entrepreneurs have turned up for the community breakfast. They make everything from biodegradable coffee cups to courses for the elderly in safe falling. The language is English and it is packed with entrepreneurial phrases like pitch, VC [venture capitalist], start-up, and pipeline.

Incubator for students with ideas

At the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) they have something called Skylab, at Aarhus University they have The Kitchen, at Aalborg University they have Innovate, and at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) they have CSE. They are all so-called innovation hubs that have the purpose of supporting entrepreneurship at the universities. The University of Copenhagen has previously had similar incubators in the individual faculties in the form of the Sund Hub, Science Hub and Human and Legal Innovation.

But they decided in 2021 to set up a large innovation centre that cuts across the different faculties, and this is where the University Post is now — munching on a bread roll.

READ ALSO: New innovation centre to help student and scientist start-ups

The concept is that the doors are open and that you can always sit down at an empty office. You don’t even have to be affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, as long as you’re an entrepreneur. There are also several people sitting around the table who have studied at both CBS and DTU.

In addition to the free office space, there are also a number of innovation consultants who can help entrepreneurs with everything from financing to contact with researchers.

After breakfast, we tag on to five different entrepreneurs to hear more about what it is that they are actually doíng, and what the role of UCPH Lighthouse is for them. To present their project, they all start off with what entrepreneurs are the true masters of: The elevator pitch.

The idea is that you should be able to step into a lift with a potential investor or buyer, and sell your idea, and your business, before the lift reaches your floor.

»I help people with dyslexia in the education system«

Sidsel Frederikke Blok Rasmussen is on the fourth semester of a bachelor’s degree in sports science at the University of Copenhagen. In parallel to her studies, she runs a company that helps people with dyslexia – a reading and writing disability.

Elevator pitch
»My business is all about helping dyslexic students in the Danish school system. I am dyslexic myself, and I have three services on the market at present. The first is a dyslexia consultancy, where I give talks and workshops. The second is about how to use ChatGPT as a tool for dyslexics in secondary education.

The third is that I am in the process of investigating how sport can help people with dyslexia. Some researchers have taken the entire alphabet and linked movements to the different letters and sounds. It turns out that kindergarten children memorize them better when they make these movements, so now I want to see if the same applies to dyslexics at university.«

What does the UCPH Lighthouse offer you?
»As a student, entrepreneur and dyslexic, it has at times been difficult to uphold a balance. I decided right from the beginning that my studies were my first priority, so I have had less time for my business. For the same reason, it has been really cool to come to UCPH Lighthouse, where I have been able to get guidance and feedback with a lot of smart people. It has allowed me to move forward even though I am studying.«

»I want to effectively stop drugging«

Christian Rahbek Jalo Keller has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Copenhagen and a master’s degree in nanoscience and technology. Now he is working hard to invent a method to keep people safe out on the town.

Elevator pitch
»I want to make a product that prevents the the spiking of drinks with drugs in nightlife. And it has to be done in a way that requires an absolute minimum from the consumers themselves. Just throw it in your drink once, and it will take care of you all evening. This is in contrast to many of the products that are on the market right now, because they require you as a consumer to do a lot of things.«

What does the UCPH Lighthouse offer you?
»When you’re a start-up, you don’t have your own office. So if you’re holding a meeting, for example, it’s super cool that you can use a room in here where the atmosphere and surroundings are very professional. I really appreciate that.

There is always someone here who has the same problem as you, that you can ask for help. And you can contact one of the innovation consultants. I have a part-time job, so I can’t be here every day, but I come as much as I can.«

»We measure emotional and cognitive activity when gaming«

Andreas Houmølle Petersen first graduated as a bachelor of engineering in process and innovation at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), and already knew then that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He was unsure about whether he would continue. But he took a master’s in technology entrepreneurship, also from DTU, nevertheless . Now he has the company Affecture.

Elevator pitch
»We do biometric tests, especially for the gaming industry. The most common way to do this is to interview and observe people. But the problem is that when you invite test subjects in and pay them to participate, they are less likely to speak out their honest opinion.

So what we do is we give test subjects a headset and a bracelet so we can measure brain activity, sweat and heart rate. In this way, we can obtain emotional and cognitive data about their experience. Interviews and observations are a good way of finding out subsequently why you felt the way you did. But we can tell you what you felt, how much you felt, and when you felt it. In this way, we can provide better information about the experience you want to test.«

What does the UCPH Lighthouse offer you?
It’s nice to be among a lot of other start-ups, because it’s hugely motivating. Instead of sitting at home in your basement, it’s rewarding to come to a house full of young people who are passionate about what they do.

At the same time, you can also get some help. Both from the associated innovation consultants, but also from other entrepreneurs who are a little further along with their project and who may have already made the mistakes you are about to make. It’s very rewarding.«

»We can dilute medicines smartly, quickly and sustainably«

Peter Laursen is not specifically qualified in the area in which he works. But he knows a lot about businesses. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in finance and investment. Both from Copenhagen Business School (CBS).

Elevator pitch
»I’m the co-founder of a health-tech startup called Mixtery. We have developed a solution to make it easier and safer for nurses to dilute medicines. Today, medicines come in a vial with the diluent in a separate container. This means that nurses have to manually transfer the diluent to the vial using disposable equipment.

It is unsafe because mistakes can happen. It also takes time. And last but not least, it’s bad for the environment because of all the disposable equipment that is thrown away. We have therefore developed a solution where you can combine the two, so that you can dilute the drug in an integrated system.«

What does the UCPH Lighthouse offer you?
»We have been through every incubator and acceleration program we could find. This was where we found the programme called Health Innovators, which was our pathway into this building. We’ve been here for about a year now, and we’re really happy about that.

On the practical side of things, it has the advantage that we do not pay rent, and it is generally great to get out instead of sitting and working at home. The sense of community in the building is also important to us, and it’s great to talk to others who are in the same situation as yourself. For us specifically, there is also a huge advantage in the ecosystem we have out here. We are located in the sweet spot between the Panum building, the Rigshospitalet and the University College Copenhagen which educates nurses. So we are surrounded by talented people who can help us and provide input.«

»We want to prevent damage to the ureters«

Trine Munch Agerskov has a bachelor’s degree in business, language and culture from CBS, and a master’s in international business also from CBS. After many years with the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, it was time for a change of scene. So she took a postgraduate degree in biomedical design at UCPH, where she met the people with whom she has now started her own business.

Elevator pitch
»I’m part of a startup called Rheia Medical. We are developing a medical device that can prevent and identify damage to the ureters, the two thin tubes that direct urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The problem is that they can be really hard to find during operations. Gynaecologists in particular can damage the ureters by cutting them or causing burn damage to them. We want to put an end to this.

We don’t have a patent yet, so I can’t give you the details, but the idea is that we get the ureters to move. We get them to contract and squirm a bit so that the surgeon can see them and avoid damaging them. At the same time, we can also measure whether they do move. And if they don’t, it’s because they’re damaged.«

What does the UCPH Lighthouse offer you?
»By the time my team and I finished biomedical design, we had already been introduced to UCPH Lighthouse. So we knew that there were a number of different health-tech startups here. And since we came out of a UCPH programme, we wrote and asked if we could get a place here. We were allowed to do so, and we have been very happy about it.

Both because exciting events are held here, but especially because we can get help from the employees. One of them had recently been in dialogue with a French private equity fund interested in medical technology. They asked if we would like to pitch our idea to them. This was enormously valuable.«