With his vision of Digital Valley, a digital powerhouse spanning across southern Denmark and northern Germany, businessman and chairman of the board of Danfoss Jørgen Mads Clausen intends to create cross-border cooperation.
Clausen argued at business conference DI South Jutland last month that growth and development across the borders between the two countries was “not working”, writes dibusiness.dk.
When the Danfoss executive subsequently asked who among the audience in the southern Danish town of Aabenraa knew senior executives south of the border, only seven people raised their hands.
“That says it all. If we are to generate mutual growth and development in our region, it is crucial that we have networks and partnerships in Germany. We don’t. You directors don’t know the business leaders on the other side of the border. You know the cashier in the border shop, but that isn’t enough. Meanwhile, only few people commute between the two countries. This prevents us from using each other to increase growth,” Clausen said.
The lack of Danish-German business partnerships and municipal cooperation is the first of three main issues that the former Danfoss CEO intends to tackle in coming years.
His aim is to create a common jobs market, increased trade and strengthened business partnerships between the German and Danish cities of Odense, Sønderborg, Flensburg, Kiel and Hamburg.
The second aim in the Digital Valley project is the creation of an eleven-kilometre long tunnel connecting the island of Als in southern Jutland to Funen. According to calculations by Rambøll, such a connection will result in more dynamic growth than all other South Jutland traffic projects, with the exception of an expansion of the motorway south of Odense.
“Here, we have two regions that are close in proximity but have been prevented from cooperating due to a channel of water. That’s why a link is so important. The transport advantages are obvious, and Rambøll’s calculations indicate that there are grounds for expecting an increase in the exchange of labour, ideas and trade between Funen and South Jutland. I therefore have high hopes the tunnel will become reality,” Clausen said.
The first task for the businessman will be to convince politicians in the Region of Southern Denmark to prioritise the project. After that, lobbying of parliament must begin.
Clausen said he hopes to take part in cutting the ribbon for an opening ceremony for the connection in 2035.
A project that is a great deal closer to becoming reality is Clausen’s third ambition: an expanded Sønderborg airport with far more departures.
“Sønderborg Airport only has three toilets. It’s much too small,” he said.
An expansion of the airport is already underway, and a bigger runway will soon follow, the businessman said. The challenge is to bring more connections to Sønderborg.
“Attracting routes is far more difficult than you would think. But we’re working on it,” said Clausen said, noting that Sønderborg Airport is the closest airport for approximately one million people, a figure exceeded in Denmark only by Copenhagen Airport.