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New director for Enterprise and Innovation will head major strategic initiative at AU

AU's strategic focus on enterprise and innovation activities has taken a decisive step forward with the appointment of an enterprise and innovation director who will join the senior management team on the university’s central business committee and head up the newly established Enterprise and Innovation area.

2019.11.06 | Signe Schou

Out of a large, highly qualified pool of applicants, Aarhus University has decided to appoint Lone Ryg Olsen as enterprise and innovation director. She has solid experience in developing partnerships in the public and private sectors, and comes to AU from a position as CEO of Danish Food Cluster, the leading facilitator of matchmaking between research and industry in the agrifood sector.

Lone Ryg Olsen has been an executive for most of her career. She has served as CEO of both Danish and international companies, and has experience with entrepreneurship from starting her own consultancy. She has a degree in journalism, and has also served as editor of the national newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten. She has also served on numerous boards of directors.

“In Lone Ryg Olsen, we’re getting a director with a lot of drive and the right profile to boost our strategic business initiative. She has considerable experience with management and relationship-building, both nationally and internationally, which can help strengthen the university’s corporate relations. Her extensive network in business and industry, in addition to government agencies, business development centres and knowledge institutions, will make a decisive contribution to enabling AU to realise our visions and initiatives in terms of partnerships with industry,” Rector Brian Bech Nielsen says.

Lone Ryg Olsen views the business initiative as a unique opportunity for Aarhus University to realise a compelling vision:

“Modern society is facing a variety of challenges, and Aarhus University has the depth of knowledge and breadth of talent to supply many of the solutions we need. Becoming part of this initiative was an irresistible opportunity for me.”

Ambitions to boost collaboration

Lone Ryg Olsen will head Enterprise and Innovation, an area which has just been established by the university to coordinate a number of enterprise and innovation-related activities, including entrepreneurship, strategic partnerships with municipalities and businesses, career services and the interdisciplinary case competition AU Challenge.

However, the university’s ambitions in this area do not end here. AU wants to generate more knowledge-intensive spinout companies based on concrete research results, and to strengthen innovation in SMEs in the region.

The university also wants to encourage more collaboration between students and companies through more internships, industrial Master’s theses and other career-focussed activities during the course of their studies. One aspect of the business initiative is about enabling more graduates to find employment in the private sector and making it easier for companies to attract qualified employees.

First order of business: opening the new entrepreneurship hub

Lone Ryg Olsen will start as director for Enterprise and Innovation at AU on 1 February 2020.

One of her first tasks will be helping to open the Kitchen, AU’s new entrepreneurship hub. The Kitchen will become a hub for entrepreneurship activities for students, PhD candidates and researchers at AU, and will contribute to opening new career paths for junior researchers and students in particular, with a particular emphasis on starting new companies and contributing to innovation in existing ones. The goal is to find commercial applications for more of the university’s research, which will produce more direct benefits for society.

For more information, contact acting head of communication and press Sys Christina Vestergaard, tel. 2367 0012.

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