Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Collaboration with leading US university to enhance innovation in Central Denmark Region

Aarhus University,Central Denmark Region, Aarhus Municipality and representatives from business and industry, in cooperation with the American elite university Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), are set to launch a two-year project to strengthen innovation, entrepreneurship and growth in the region – and in the rest of Denmark.

2018.05.16 | Anders Hylander

Massachusetts Institute of Technology's dome. Pressphoto from MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology's dome. Pressphoto from MIT

This is the first time a Danish region will be participating in the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP). The prestigious American university has just announced nine new regions all over the world which will participate in REAP, including wide-ranging collaboration in Central Denmark Region. 

Central Denmark Region was selected after a prolonged application process. The region has bene selected along with eight other regions in countries including Norway, China, the United States and Australia to collaborate with MIT for a two-year period.

Participation in REAP will strengthen innovation, entrepreneurship and growth in both the region and the rest of Denmark. Participation will involve the selected of a REAP Team consisting of senior executives from Aarhus University, Central Denmark Region, Aarhus Municipality, Grundfos, the start-up UNSILO and the Færch Foundation. The group will be co-chaired by Aarhus University rector Brian Bech Nielsen and Jacob Stengaard Madsen, chief executive of Central Denmark Region.

The team will participate in a two-year project planned by MIT involving an analysis of the region’s strengths within innovation and entrepreneurship. On the background of the analysis, a strategy to develop these strengths further, which will then be implemented by the parties involved in the project.

The collaboration in the region will begin in July 2018, when the process of analysing the region’s strengths and setting project objectives will begin. The REAP Team will meet with participants from the other eight regions at MIT in October.

Statements from the members of the REAP Team:

"An important ambition for Aarhus University’ is to increase cooperation with business and industry – including strengthening innovation, entrepreneurship and growth in our region. REAP is a good opportunity to make the links between research, education and business even stronger. The fact that a strong university like MIT is part of the collaboration makes the project even more exciting,"says Rector Brian Bech Nielsen of Aarhus University.

"Central Denmark Region has very high ambitions in the interplay between business promotion, research and innovation, which  is reflected in the fact that we have linked our development strategy to the challenges of global society and the UN global targets for sustainable development. This requires an international perspective, which is why it is extremely valuable that the REAP programme will allow us to work with and learn from the best regions in the world when it comes to bringing together companies, knowledge institutions and public sector institutions to create good frameworks for growth, "says Jacob Stengaard Madsen, chief executive of Central Denmark Region.

"On behalf of Aarhus, I am extremely pleased that,together with Central Denmark Region through MIT REAP, we can gain access to the latest knowledge in our efforts to develop businesses in East Jutland," says Niels Haberman, chief municipal executive of the City of Aarhus.

"During my many years in the Central Denmark Region growth forum, I have seen the potential represented by a strong interplay between businesses, educational institutions and the public sector. I am participating in REAP to find out how we can make this interplay even more fruitful for the benefit of our region, "says Lars Aagaard, non-executive vice president of Grundfos.

"There is a lot of talk about the Silicon Valley model and what the rest of the world can learn from it. I look forward to contributing to the REAP project with my personal experience as an entrepreneur in both Denmark and Silicon Valley, "says Mads Rydahl, founder and chief visionary officer of the start-up company UNSILO.

"At Færch & Co., we are pleased to support and participate in the MIT REAP collaboration, which is a great opportunity to gain international input and experience to strengthen cooperation on creating innovation and growth in the region for the benefit of its citizens," says Lone Færch, chair of the Færch & Co. board.


In Central Denmark Region, REAP will focus on the following areas:

  • Strengthen cohesion and mutual understanding among the key players in the region’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem  
  • Retention and recruitment of skilled workers
  • Established companies must play a greater role in the development of innovative entrepreneurs
  • Increase in patient capital with high risk tolerance
  • Increased internationalisation and focus on infrastructure



·         Brian Bech Nielsen, rector of Aarhus University

·         Jacob Stengaard Madsen, chief executive of Central Denmark Region

·         Niels Højbjerg, chief municipal executive, City of Aarhus

·         Lars Aagaard, non-executive vice president at Grundfos

·         Mads Rydahl, founder and chief visionary officer at UNSILO

·         Lone Færch, chair of the board, Færch & Co.

·         John Westensee, deputy director at Aarhus University

·         Lars Frølund, development manager at Aarhus University and research affiliate, MIT Innovation Initiative


·         Read MIT's press release about REAP here.


·         Anders Hylander, communications officer at Aarhus University:  ahylander@au.dk and + 45 9350 8569 or Sys Vestergaard at scv@au.dk and + 45 2367 0012.

Talent development, Administration (Academic), All groups, All AU units, Aarhus University, Collaboration, Research