Urbantech: Start-ups and large corporations create results together

Innovation is a key component for solving sustainability challenges and when start-ups and large companies work together, innovation can be accelerated.

New technology improves sustainable buildings

In 2019, COWI, EWII and VKR Holding/VELUX joined forces with the philanthropic association Realdania and the Danish Industry Foundation, to focus on innovation and sustainability in the built environment. Through this collaboration, the Urbantech accelerator programme was established. The programme encourages collaboration between start-ups in the technology and construction industries and large Danish corporations with the intention to develop innovative products and business models for sustainable solutions. Since its inception, a total of 39 start-ups have participated in the Urbantech programme.

It has gone better than we had dared to hope for. We have created a value-adding and dynamic knowledge environment in Denmark, which makes it attractive for foreign talent to come here. Many of the entrepreneurs who have participated in the programme are still working with Danish companies, which should result in innovative solutions and increased competitiveness. Urbantech has shown us that collaboration across size, disciplines and industry boundaries can be very valuable. We will definitely take that experience with us,
said Thomas Hofman-Bang, CEO of the Danish Industry Foundation.

So far, the 39 start-ups have created more than 110 jobs. The Urbantech entrepreneurs have furthermore managed to raise 199 million Danish kroner in capital, which is double the original goal set at the beginning of the programme.

In addition to the great results - in the form of new solutions, job creation and attracting venture capital to the built environment - we are also responsible for the development that the three large corporates in the programme have undergone. The numerous start-ups that have been inside the engine room of these companies over the past three years have inspired them to see themselves and their way of working with innovation in a whole new light. I hope this can also inspire many more established companies in Denmark to do more,
said Simon Kofod-Svendsen, Project Manager at Realdania

Great value for large corporations

The Urbantech programme has benefitted start-ups by providing access to collaborations with established players in and around the built environment. The programme has furthermore benefitted COWI, EWII and VKR Holding/VELUX, by creating a network for innovative businesses and enabling cross-collaborations.

For VELUX, participating in Urbantech has been an eye-opener. We come from a background where innovation has always been part of our DNA. The Urbantech collaboration opened our eyes to the many things that are happening in the construction industry ecosystem and to how many ideas and initiatives are bubbling around us. The collaboration has opened new doors and taught us about technology and how to work with start-ups. We hope and believe that we have added great value to the entrepreneurs in the form of advice and sparring while we, in turn, have learnt a lot from the collaboration - so much so that VKR Holding has just made a major investment in KOMPAS, a venture capital fund with a focus on sustainability and technology in the construction sector,
said Tina Mayn, SVP for Products at the VELUX Group

The collaboration with start-ups has changed the way that COWI makes use of technology as a part of its innovation efforts. 

Urbantech and the collaboration with start-ups have undoubtedly accelerated COWI's digital development and contributed to changing our business mindset. When you combine the agility, creativity, and readiness for change of start-ups with the management structure and customer base of larger companies, you create an ideal environment for radical innovation. In the future, we will therefore focus even more on entering strong partnerships to create better solutions for a sustainable world,
said Lars-Peter Søbye, CEO of COWI

Likewise, working with the start-ups through the Urbantech programme has had an impact on the way that EWII works with sustainability, and has opened doors to an entrepreneurial universe for the Kolding-based group.

Urbantech has shown us that there is a world we did not have sufficient insight into - and that world has transformed our self-understanding and created new dynamism in the company. I don’t think I have ever been in an environment as valuable for the development of a well-established organization - an environment where we naturally feel like meeting each other at eye level and with mutual respect for the things we can develop together. Urbantech has left a lasting effect on EWII's contribution to the green agenda,
said Lars Bonderup Bjørn, CEO of EWII

About the VELUX Group

For more than 80 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world; making the most of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Our product programme includes roof windows and modular skylights, decorative blinds, sun screening products and roller shutters, as well as installation and smart home solutions. These products help to ensure a healthy and sustainable indoor climate, for work and learning, for play and pleasure. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in more than 36 countries and around 11,000 employees worldwide. The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by non-profit, charitable foundations (THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS) and family. In 2022, the VELUX Group had total revenue of EUR 2.99 billion, VKR Holding had total revenue of EUR 4.29 billion, and THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS donated EUR 181 million in charitable grants.

For more information about VELUX Group, visit