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The Kitchen – opening of Aarhus University's new entrepreneurship hub

The entrepreneurship hub The Kitchen got a great kick-off – and a generous gift from Grundfos – at the opening ceremony.

2020.02.10 | Ole Frank Nielsen

[Translate to English:] Foto: Søren Kjeldgaard

Entrepreneurship and innovation got a big boost when Aarhus University officially opened The Kitchen last week.

The around 300 guests who attended the ceremony were warmly received by Rector Brian Bech Nielsen and Lone Ryg Olsen, director of Enterprise and Innovation at AU.

The ceremony took place against an appropriately innovative backdrop: the big yellow cranes and lifts transforming the old municipal hospital into the new University City. This kitchen is a space where a somewhat more intellectual form of transformation will take place: turning the university’s knowledge into fuel for innovation in Central Denmark by bringing local companies closer to students, researchers and entrepreneurs.

The party always ends up in the kitchen

The rector started the event by joking that parties always begin in the lounge but end up in the kitchen as the evening progresses. This is where you get down to business. This is where you create networks. And The Kitchen will be no exception. And both the rector and the director of Enterprise and Innovation agreed that this party will be open to all: The Kitchen is for all of Aarhus. And for all of Central Denmark Region.

This inclusivity was seconded by Mayor Jacob Bundsgaard and Chair of the Regional Council Anders Kühnau, who spoke about The Kitchen’s role in addressing the big challenges society faces – such as the climate crisis. But on a more-down-to-earth note, they also stressed how important it is to make it possible for researchers and entrepreneurs to meet and inspire one another. Inspiration and knowledge exchange were also key words in the speech of Lars Aagaard, director of Grundfos Holding, the most generous guest of the day: his housewarming present was a check for half a million kroner. Listen to Aagaard’s thoughts on entrepreneurship and creativity in this video (in Danish) 

The soul kitchen

The last speaker of the day was Lone Ryg Olsen, AU’s new director of Enterprise and Innovation. She officially opened The Kitchen on her third day at AU. For Olsen, it’s important to make The Kitchen a place that buzzes with positive energy. She will have a decisive role to play in this, because as head of the university’s business initiative, she has primary responsibility for promoting and developing the university’s relations with business and industry and the innovation system.

And it all starts in the kitchen! So, whether you’re a a researcher, a student or just curious, do stop by for a cup of innovation (or coffee) at The Kitchen.


  • The Kitchen is a new 3,300 m2 entrepreneurship and innovation hub.
  • It’s located in the old central kitchen of the former municipal hospital in Aarhus, and a lot of details have been preserved, like the tiles on the walls, old hospital equipment and doors you open by pulling on a cord.
  • Aarhus University’s new campus on the former municipal hospital property will be called the University City.
  • The Kitchen has open work stations, offices for students and researchers enrolled in AU Incubator or Academic Entrepreneurship programmes – and a coffee bar (Clever Coffee).
  • The Kitchen has meeting rooms, offices, a photo lab and a sound studio that can be used by entrepreneurs and spin-outs from AU.
  • The Kitchen is open to Aarhus residents and the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • The Kitchen will offer open events, talks, crash courses and much more.

One source of inspiration for The Kitchen is MIT, and it is the first of a variety of initiatives to support entrepreneurship that will support collaboration between researchers and students from AU and municipalities, SMEs, large companies and the entrepreneurship ecosystem. The Kitchen was inspired by American campus environments where businesses are located side-by-side with entrepreneurs and researchers. Since 2018, Central Denmark Region, Færchfonden, Grunfos, Unsilo, Incuba, the City of Aarhus and Aarhus University have been participating in the MIT REAP programme in Boston to strengthen entrepreneurship in the region.

Read more about MIT REAP 

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