Creatives & Changemakers

Science City Lyngby’s journey to become a buzzing Innovation District

Christin Scheller
October 7, 2021

Lyngby shares some of the advantages that came from working with GIID, an analysis framework that helps innovation areas in becoming Innovation Districts and that has been applied in cities such as Philadelphia, Toronto, Dublin and Milan to name a few. Lyngby’s innovation system underwent a sound analysis in which its unique strengths were uncovered, e.g. sustainable mobility and Retail Tech. The results stress the importance of collaboration and helped Science City Lyngby to develop a common five-year strategy while establishing a common innovation language among its stakeholders.

What do Lyngby, Toronto and Dublin have in common? Yes, you might say they are all situated in the northern hemisphere, correct. What they also have in common are strong innovation districts and a mutual benefit from the GIID network that includes big and small cities all over the world. GIID stands for the Global Institute on Innovation Districts, a nonprofit organisation that provides an analysis framework as well as a contact platform for its members to exchange experiences and knowledge with each other. While big cities possess many resources, we wanted to know from Marianna Lubanski, CEO of Science City Lyngby in Denmark, what a smaller sized city can learn from this cooperation.

Marianna Lubanski, CEO of Science City Lyngby.

Just like Lund, Lyngby has a big university campus (Technical University of Denmark/ DTU), start-ups, small and big companies, a lively city centre and many more research and educational institutions. Lyngby is situated a few kilometres north of Copenhagen, having thus a great connection to the Danish capital, Europe and the world. When they were approached by GIID it was thus not about designing a whole new innovation ecosystem, but about reaching the next level with the given resources. Having many areas of excellence, one of the first lessons from GIID was to position oneself with only a few.

-The GIID helped us to focus on fewer things. You can’t do everything but one, two, three really good things over the next three years or five years. You get a clearer profile and that was also one of our challenges when you have a university that is world class in many areas. I cannot brand Science City Lyngby in 10 different ways. Usually, you need to kind of like select something and GIID help with that process. And it made it legitimate among our stakeholders.

The focus on two main areas is the result of a deep analysis taking into consideration the categories of critical mass, innovation & entrepreneurship, quality of place, leadership and diversity. In the case of Lyngby, the two focus areas are Life Science & Advanced Chemistry and IT/Engineering. Right now, they focus on sustainable mobility within the life science cluster, or rather green transition a larger scale. RetailTech includes many new IT and tech solutions based on IoT, AI, Big Data, Machine Learning, cybersecurity etc While the procedure is the same, certain aspects needs to be adapted to the local context as the conditions in for example the US and cities in Northern Europe can differ.

-We cannot take an US model and implant it. Because it's very different, you know. There are industry cluster where the companies pay for a lot more and the cities are really poor. And here actually our government, our cities are the wealthy guys. It’s very different.

The team was successful in adapting the framework to the conditions in Lyngby, where the focus lies on establishing more interactive spaces without needing new space. The board then devised a five-year strategy (2020 – 2025) with the new insights and formulated a vision. An Innovation District task force makes sure progress will be made in due time. And the association Lyngby-Taarbaek Vidensby changed its name into Science City Lyngby. With these measures Lyngby could tackle more easily some of the challenges.

-We have actually created a living lab in one of the clusters, and among all the partners active in that cluster, we are testing new technologies. And then we have right now arranged a range of roundtables between all the guys in our other cluster, trying to define what they could do together to increase innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship within their space. And we talk about physical things. We talk about existing programs and such and we talk about what the dream would be. Who we should approach, companies or institutions, to get them involved in making things happen. It's very inspiring, because it gives you a mutual framework. And it gives you also a language.

Lyngby and Lund/Future by Lund are in contact with each other and exchange knowledge and experiences on spearheading an innovation ecosystem. The two share similar interests such as learning how to grow and retain start-ups, enable collaboration between stakeholders and making premises more innovative. In summer 2020, Lund gave a team of innovation leaders from Lyngby a digital tour which will, as soon as the situation is safe again, be complemented with a life tour.

Photo: Copyright: tmrw


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