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Denmark

Denmark

3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.8 Development of entrepreneurship competence

On this page
  1. Policy Framework
  2. Formal learning
  3. Non-formal and informal learning
  4. Educators support in entrepreneurship education

Policy Framework

Strategy for Denmark in the global economy

In 2006, the government launched a strategy for Denmark in the global economy, Progress, change and security - strategy for Denmark in the global economy (Fremgang, fornyelse og tryghed – Strategi for Danmark i den globale økonomi)

The strategy had four goals, one of which was that Denmark should be a leading entrepreneurial society (iværksættersamfund). In relation to entrepreneurship, the objectives of the strategy were:

  • Danish enterprises and public institutions should be among the world’s most innovative
  • Denmark should be among the countries with the most entrepreneurs

 

Strategy for Education and Training in Entrepreneurship

In 2010, the government launched the Strategy for Education and Training in Entrepreneurship.

The strategy was a specific entrepreneurship education strategy and constituted the framework for the education of entrepreneurial business managers and employees of tomorrow. The strategy should contribute to fulfilling the objectives in the strategy for Denmark in a global economy by strengthening and consolidating the measures in relation to entrepreneurship.

The strategy constitutes the foundation of the present strategies on entrepreneurship.

 

Definition of entrepreneurship in the strategy:

  • Innovation for commercial purposes or value creation in a broader sense. That is to say a process in which a person sees an opportunity, has an idea, and implements it, with the result being that the idea creates value. The value creation does not need to be financial in nature.
  • The creation in an existing enterprise of new processes and/or products that can be of value to the existing enterprise or organisation.
  • Starting one’s own business and putting it into operation.

 

Vision:

  • To develop pupil and student knowledge about entrepreneurship as well as their ability to act entrepreneurially
  • Significantly more students must receive education and training in entrepreneurship

 

The strategy has three parts:

In the first part, the Danish government sets objectives for the municipal primary and lower secondary education (folkeskole), upper secondary education, and higher education: Entrepreneurship must be put on the timetable in the Danish primary and lower secondary and upper secondary education, as it must be part of the syllabus in higher education. See more below in the section Formal education.

The second part of the strategy involves bringing all supporting work together under a single actor: the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship. The foundation will function as an embedded and sustainable infrastructure that supports entrepreneurship education through national coordination and support.

The third part is creating the Partnership for Education and Training in Entrepreneurship between the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (now Ministry of Higher Education and Science), the Ministry of Education (Now Ministry of Children and Education), and the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs (now Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs). The inter-ministerial partnership will cooperate on the implementation of the strategy.

 

The implementation of the strategy:

The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship is intended to create a coherent national commitment to education and training in entrepreneurship.

The foundation is a private commercial foundation that is organised with a board of management and a board of representatives. The foundation received a government grant from the globalisation reserve of DKK 25 million in the period 2010-2012.  The foundation was primarily supported by a four-ministerial partnership between the Ministry for Education (now Ministry of Children and Education), the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs (now Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs), and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

 

In the strategy, the foundation had 10 main tasks:

  • Development of entrepreneurship teaching
  • Development of study programmes, courses, and teaching methods for students
  • Development of tests and examinations
  • Talent development
  • Collecting and disseminating knowledge
  • International and cross-national initiatives
  • Developing and co-financing entrepreneurship strategies in the education system
  • Dialogue with education institutions
  • Implementing activities to foster a culture of entrepreneurship
  • Operator of future national and regional strategies

 

Foundation activities today:

  • Knowledge centre for entrepreneurship education
  • Funds projects on the development of new courses and educational practice
  • Ensures competence building of teachers
  • Creates and distribute teaching materials
  • Offers networks among teachers at all levels
  • Participates in international networks
  • Participates in research and development projects
  • Administers competitions, programmes and other activities by supporting an entrepreneurial culture
  • Measures the development and effects of the initiative
  • Supports strategy development at all levels in the educational sector
  • In 2020, the foundation launched a new strategy – Entrepreneurship for everyone – addressing the need to reach a much larger domain of education and courses, including subjects and faculties with no tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship. The strategy emphasises the need for innovation and entrepreneurship that address and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the green transition, and hence to combine and develop teaching programmes and skills that bridge the SDGs and entrepreneurship.
  • Furthermore, analyses have shown that local and institutional management and strategy are crucial for a sustainable implementation of entrepreneurship and innovation in teaching and learning. Hence, there is an increased focus on embedding the entrepreneurship focus at the management and leadership levels at schools and higher education institutions in the coming years.

Main target groups

  • All pupils and students in Denmark, from primary education to higher education institutions
  • Teachers and trainers of all pupils and students in Denmark
  • Managers and leaders at all education levels

 

A nation of solutions

In 2012, the government launched the strategy Denmark – A Nation of Solutions.

The strategy covers the period to 2020.

The strategy is a broader innovation strategy with three areas of action, the third of which targets entrepreneurship education.

The overall vision in the strategy is that Denmark will be a nation of solutions, where innovative solutions translate into growth and employment. The strategy affirmed the objectives and visions for entrepreneurship education in the strategy from 2010.

The strategy has the following definition of entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is when you act upon opportunities and ideas and transform them into value for others. The value that is created can be financial, cultural or social.

 

The strategy had three focus areas and 27 initiatives:

Innovation driven by societal challenges

  • Implement a revision of the Danish councils for research and innovation
  • Restructure the Business Innovation Fund to a market maturation fund
  • Strengthen Danish participation in European innovation efforts
  • Establish ‘INNO+’, a solid, professional basis for the prioritisation of innovation policy
  • Establish a model for societal partnerships on innovation
  • Initiate pilot partnerships on innovation in 2013:
    • Pilot partnership on sustainable and efficient pork production
    • Pilot partnership on better use of alternative water sources
    • Pilot partnership on innovative climate adaptation solutions
    • Pilot partnership on the development of an intelligent energy system – smart energy
  • Producing a national strategy for Danish participation in EU programmes

More knowledge translated into value

  • Support more professional clusters and networks
  • Collective programme for knowledge-based innovation in SMEs
  • Prioritise R&D that supports Danish production
  • Establish a 'start-up pilot'
  • Establish three new international innovation centres
  • Implement a simplification package for all public innovation schemes
  • Increase the critical mass and gather competences in fewer innovation environments
  • Strengthen knowledge cooperation and innovation in education through recognition and attractive career paths for researchers and educators
  • Strengthen the framework and documentation for knowledge cooperation
  • Strengthen commercial access to knowledge
  • Promote cooperation with companies in practice-oriented innovation

Education as a means to increase innovation capacity

  • Increase practice elements at all education levels to support innovation
  • Support innovation in the education of teachers and educators
  • Support of talented students
  • Create a cohesive primary school system to promote talented and independent students
  • Strengthen the competences in innovation and entrepreneurship in vocational education
  • Strengthen the innovative and business-oriented competences of PhD students
  • Ensure new learning targets and forms of teaching and examination
  • Implement an innovation competition for students in primary and secondary education
  • Strengthen the integration of innovation and entrepreneurship in education programmes

The approach in the strategy offers a wide range of actions addressing key areas such as curriculum, teacher education, and learning outcomes. The strategy includes actions on both the development and assessment of learning outcomes.

 

Panel on entrepreneurship

In 2017, the government set up a panel on entrepreneurship. In 2018, the panel presented its recommendations to the government. The ambition of the panel is that Denmark should be the best country in Europe to establish entrepreneurial enterprises per capita. Furthermore, the panel recommends a change in the way entrepreneurship is discussed in Denmark: Entrepreneurship must be articulated as a serious career option in the Danish education system and entrepreneurship education should be strengthened.

 

Implementation process

Several state institutions contribute to the long-term realisation of the 2010 and 2012 strategies (see also section 3.9):

  1. The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship
  2. Innovation Fund Denmark
  3. The Danish Growth Fund
  4. The Technology Pact

1) The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship is described above.

2) In 2014, Innovation Fund Denmark was established as an independent institution under the auspices of the Ministry for Higher Education and Science. Innovation Fund Denmark provides the setting for innovation and entrepreneurship in research and in enterprises and creates support frameworks for entrepreneurs, researchers and businesses so that they can develop innovative and viable solutions to society’s challenges.

In October 2020, Innovation Fund Denmark launched a new strategy for 2025 that aims to create a stronger and more integrated ecosystem for innovation, where the fund will play a more significant role. The fund supports strategic research and innovation projects in seven different funding programmes.

Several of the programmes support young people’s entrepreneurial experiences, for instance:

  • Innobooster – a programme for start-ups or SMEs (small or medium-sized enterprises)
  • Innovation Pilot in Rural Districts – enterprises in rural areas may hire newly graduated masters
  • Innofounder Graduate – a programme for recent graduates
  • Industrial PhD/Industrial Postdoc – a programme for master or PhD students

Target groups:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Start-ups and SMEs
  • Researchers

3) The Danish Growth Fund is the Danish state’s investment fund. The fund promotes the growth and renewal of small and medium-sized enterprises in order to achieve a greater socio-economic return. The fund contributes to the creation of new companies by providing capital and expertise.

4) In 2018, the government launched the Technology Pact (Teknologipagten).

The pact was launched by the Ministry of Employment, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, and the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs. The pact is a partnership between more than 120 enterprises and higher education and research institutions. The objective of the pact is that all children, young people, and adults gain better knowledge of technology, IT, and science. More specifically, the target is that more than 150 000 people and 250 projects, enterprises and institutions are engaged in the pact and that the number of students in STEM higher education programmes increases by 20% in 10 years.

The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship is secretariat for the Technology Pact.

 

The framework of reference used for entrepreneurial competence

The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship has developed a taxonomy for entrepreneurship education. The taxonomy is aimed at all teachers, leaders and decision makers at all levels of the education system, from primary school to higher education, to support them in getting a deeper and more academic foundation for using the notion of entrepreneurship in their teaching, curricula and projects. The taxonomy has come about as a result of the foundation’s mandate to develop a common ground in the application of entrepreneurship in education and to develop a useable and academically sound definition of entrepreneurship. The taxonomy defines four dimensions:

  • Action: An individual's ability and desire to launch productive initiatives and the ability to realise the initiatives through cooperation, network, and partnerships
  • Creativity: An individual's ability to see new ideas and create possibilities as well as the ability to combine knowledge, experiences, and personal resources in an innovative way
  • Comprehension of the outside world: The understanding of the world, locally and globally, as well as the ability to analyse a context socially, culturally, and economically
  • Attitude: Personal and individual resources

 

 

Formal learning

The strategies of 2010 and 2012 address entrepreneurship in the formal education system.

report from the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship establishes that the number of pupils and students who receive entrepreneurship education has been increasing since the strategy of 2010. In the school year 2016/17, 25% of all pupils and students at all levels have received entrepreneurship education.

 

Primary and lower secondary education (Folkeskole):

Three cross-curricular themes are included in common objectives (forenklede Fælles Mål) for the Danish primary and lower secondary education (folkeskole), one of which is innovation and entrepreneurship. The cross-curricular themes must be included in all mandatory subjects.

The themes are included in the individual objectives for the mandatory subjects, and the Ministry of Children and Education has developed teaching guidelines instructions that are available at the portal EMU.dk. Emu.dk is described in detail in section 5.7

The goal of the cross-curricular theme ‘innovation and entrepreneurship’ is to motivate pupils to participate in society as active citizens, entrepreneurs, and innovative employees.

There are four dimensions in the entrepreneurship education in the primary and lower secondary education:

  • Action: The pupil’s ability and desire to launch productive initiatives and the ability to realise the initiatives through cooperation, network, and partnerships
  • Creativity: The ability to see new ideas and create possibilities as well as the ability to combine knowledge, experiences, and personal resources in an innovative way
  • Comprehension of the outside world: The understanding of the world, locally and globally, as well as the ability to analyse a context socially, culturally, and economically
  • Attitude: Personal and individual resources that are used in the pupil’s approach to a task, for instance the ability to work persistently

In connection with each dimension, a list of competence objectives is established. Furthermore, in the last section of each subject’s curriculum is a subject-related text on innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

Two subjects deal specifically with entrepreneurship:

Craft and Design: Craft and Design is a mandatory subject for 4th-7th form, and from 2020 as an elective subject in the 7th-9th form.

Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is an elective subject in the 10th form. Municipalities may offer the subject as an elective subject in the 7th-9th form.

 

General upper secondary education programmes

The purpose of the four general upper secondary education programmes: The educations must prepare the pupils to develop their creative and innovative competences.

In concrete terms, this means that:

  • Evaluations of the pupils’ entrepreneurial competences must be included in examinations in relevant subjects and subject-related contexts.
  • Young people in upper secondary education must be able to choose entrepreneurship subjects as far as possible.
  • Relevant teachers in upper secondary education must be given the opportunity to obtain qualifications and do in-service training in innovative educational theory and methodology, and to qualify to teach entrepreneurial subjects.
  • Particularly talented young people should have the opportunity to take part in talent development programmes with a view to developing their own projects or enterprise.

 

Innovation is an elective subject in general upper secondary

The objective of the subject is different aspects of innovation (list not complete):

  • Value creation and business models
  • Cooperation and organisation
  • Creativity and idea generation
  • Market demands

The assessment of the pupil is based on the pupil’s ability to master an innovation process.

 

Innovation as a cross-curricular theme

Innovation is integrated in a wide range of subjects in the four general upper secondary education programmes: STX, HF, HHX, and HTX.

In STX, innovation refers to the development and assessment of solutions to common, general, and professional problems within and between subjects. In the curriculum of a wide range of subjects in STX, it is established that the subject must develop the pupil’s ‘innovative competences and skills’. The specialised study project may involve innovation.

In HF, innovation refers to the development of solutions of general and academic problems within the specific subject and between subjects. In the curriculum of a wide range of subjects in HF, it is established that the subject must develop the pupil’s ‘innovative competences and skills’.

In HHX, innovation refers to development and assessment of solutions regarding vocational problems in the area of commerce. In the curriculum for HHX, several of the mandatory subjects must contribute to the pupil’s ‘innovative competences’. In other subjects, the pupil must develop ‘innovative solutions’. In HHX, Innovation B-level is mandatory for pupils in one study programme.

In HTX, innovation refers to innovative problem-solving and product development in relation to realistic problems as well as entrepreneurship. In the curriculum of a wide range of subjects in HTX, it is established that the subject must develop the pupil’s innovative competences and skills.

 

Subjects with innovation as part of the core topics 

  • In the subject Information Science, innovation is part of the core topics that the students must know about.

  • In the subject Study Area, ‘digitalisation, design and innovation’ are defined as core topics in the curriculum.

  • The subject Technology specifically integrates innovation and entrepreneurship in the curriculum. The study must prepare the pupil for higher education within technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and the core topics are, among other things, product development, modelling of prototypes, marketing, market analyses, etc.

EMU.dk offers teaching material that involves innovation in a wide range of subjects as well as cross-disciplinary teaching courses that involve innovation.

 

Vocational upper secondary

Innovation is an integral part of the objectives of VET educations.

In the objectives of the VET programmes, it is established that ‘the educations must meet the demands of the labour market, among these an innovative and creative workforce’.

In the ministerial order on the vocational educations, it is established that the educations must ‘contribute to the development of the pupil’s innovative and creative competences in preparation for the pupil’s participation in production and service developments as well as the pupil’s establishment of own enterprise.’

The subject Innovation is taught at the first-year core course (grundforløb 1) for students within the first 12 months after having finished compulsory schooling. The subject Innovation (level 1) is mandatory. The duration of the subject is one week. 

The education institutions can offer Innovation (level 2) as an elective course. The duration is one week.

During the main course (hovedforløb) in the educations with elective subjects, the vocational education institutions must offer elective teaching in innovation and the establishment of one’s own enterprise.

It is the trade committee (faglige udvalg) in cooperation with the local school that determine the criteria for the assessment of competences and whether innovation is part of the assessment.

 

Higher education

Higher education in Denmark includes professional bachelor and academy profession programmes, maritime programmes, artistic programmes, and university programmes.

The strategy on entrepreneurship education from 2010 has led to a greater emphasis on introducing innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education. Higher education institutions have developed subjects and programmes with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.

In recent years, there has been an increased focus amongst higher education institutions on the topic of sustainable and impact-driven entrepreneurship, with new and additional courses offered, new strategies launched that combine the topics and an increase in the number of extracurricula activities such as hackathons, boot camps, etc. In October 2020, the Foundation for Entrepreneurship published a mapping of initiatives, courses and strategies within sustainable entrepreneurship across the HEIs in Denmark. This amounted to more than 200 different initiatives.

 

Adult education and FGU

The target groups for adult education and FGU are people who have had or have difficulties in the education system. Therefore, the objective of adult education and FGU is to provide the target group with basic skills. The focus is not innovation and entrepreneurship but instead basic education.

 

Practical experience

Practical experience is an integral part of the entrepreneurship education. For instance, the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship organises several competitions and training programmes that teachers can use in their courses. The competitions in particular have a practical focus.

 

Recurring competitions:

  • The idea competition: The competition offers pupils and students the possibility to present their idea orally and in writing to external experts and business people. The competition involves all levels in the competition system.
  • Project Edison: A national competition for pupils in the 6th and 7th form. The pupils must develop a new solution for a set theme. In 2018, the theme was ‘green transition’.
  • NextLevel: A national programme for students in lower secondary education focusing on integrating innovation and subject-relevant knowledge and skills.
  • Da Vinci: A competition for pupils in HTX, STX, VET, and EUX. Often the pupils present a prototype.
  • MicroGrant: Students and PhD students can pitch an idea and may be entitled to a microgrant.
  • Design talent: A competition for students or graduates from design educations.
  • Startup Programme: Startup Programme offers teachers and higher educational institutions a practice-oriented approach to teaching entrepreneurship. The programme is built on entrepreneurial teaching material, the continuous skill development of teachers and actual activities and events where students can test their ideas in front of experienced entrepreneurs and business people. There are national and local competitions twice a year.
  • Danish championship in entrepreneurship.
  • Social Enterprise 360: A competition for pupils in upper secondary educations.
  • Danish Entrepreneurship Festival: Every year, approximately 5000 people from primary school to PhD level gather at the Danish Entrepreneurship Awaard. At the award show, elected judging panels select the winners of different competitions. In 2020, the foundation changed the format and the award became the first Danish Entrepreneurship Festival. It was 100% digital and lasted one week in November. In 2021, the festival will again be one of the largest entrepreneurship events of the year.

 

Recurrent training programmes:

  • Next level: Programme for pupils in lower secondary educations. The training programme ends with a competition. There are three ways to participate in the programme:
  • As a cross-curricular theme
  • As an elective subject
  • As a school project
  • Company Programme: A training programme for pupils in upper secondary educations.
  • Social Enterprise 360: A training programme for pupils in upper secondary educations.
  • Start-up Programme: Training programme for students in higher education that includes several events and competitions.

 

Define and assess learning outcomes

The definition and assessment of learning outcomes vary depending on the level of education and whether the entrepreneurship education is a cross-curricular theme or a regular subject. When innovation and entrepreneurship is a subject, such as the elective subject Entrepreneurship in lower secondary education or the elective subject Innovation in general upper secondary education, the learning outcomes are established in the curriculum.

 

Partnerships

The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship builds on strong partnerships.

The foundation is based on an inter-ministerial partnership between the Ministry of Children and Education, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

The Foundation for Entrepreneurship is financed ministerially and through external sponsors. The sponsors finance competitions and events and engage in partnerships to develop entrepreneurship education and training programmes.

Examples of such partnerships are two programmes launched in 2018 and funded by the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, the EU Social Fund, and the EU Regional Fund.

  • Entrepreneurship education (Undervisning i entreprenørskab): The project is a partnership between the foundation, Zealand Business College, Mercantec, International Business College, several vocational colleges, and SMVdanmark (a national organisation for SMEs). The project develops learning modules in entrepreneurship as well as the upgrading of teaching skills.

  • Start-up in practice (Start-up i praksis): The project is a partnership between the foundation and the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Aalborg University, and Copenhagen Business School. The project offers higher education students practical entrepreneurship experience.

 

Lastly, the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship has seven regional units with their own boards. Here, education institutions and the business community cooperate on entrepreneurship education by:

  • Facilitating contact between schools and enterprises
  • Arranging fairs and competitions
  • Organising visits at enterprises
  • Arranging seminars

 

Non-formal and informal learning

There are no top-level policy measures or large-scale initiatives to encourage young people to develop entrepreneurial skills and attitudes within non-formal learning and informal learning. However, the events and competitions organised by the foundation are extracurricular activities, the credits for which are not required when completing a degree. The activities offer pupils and students the possibility to acquire entrepreneurship skills and competences in a non-formal context. The activities are often in parallel to formal education courses in schools.

Furthermore, entrepreneurial skills, creativity, and leadership competences are established in the associational and voluntary sector, where young people engage as assistant coaches in local sports clubs, scout leaders, or leaders of the little league players, etc.

The Danish associational and voluntary sector is described in section 2.12.2, and 5.7.

The recognition of competences acquired in non-formal and informal learning is described in section 2.7.

 

Educators support in entrepreneurship education

One of the core tasks of the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship is to support teachers in entrepreneurial education. The foundation:

  • Is a knowledge centre for entrepreneurship education.
  • Ensures competence building of teachers.
  • Creates and distributes teaching materials.
  • Offers a network for teachers at all levels. The network is called NEIS.
  • Offers a network, UNIEN, for persons employed at a university.

Target group: primarily teachers at all levels of education.