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New Science and Innovation Attache in ICDK Bangalore

Bangalore is sometimes referred to as the Silicon Valley of India, because of its role as the nation's leading information technology exporter. With a metropolitan population of around 11 million, Bangalore is the largest city of the Indian state of Karnataka and also the location of Innovation Centre Denmark’s newly appointed Science and Innovation Attaché. Here are his initial reflections on the position.

Give a brief introduction of yourself

I have a technical background as a researcher in robotics and I have been working with innovation projects in different organizations for several years. After I graduated from the IT University in 2004, I had the opportunity to do an industrial Ph.D. at Danish the Technological Institute and Aalborg University, which involved a visit to the Cognitive Computing Lab at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. In 2011, I started in a position as a Special Advisor for Invest in Denmark at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the tech area. Before joining ICDK, I worked at Aarhus Municipality in a cross-sectorial innovation unit, working with initiating and implementing smart city projects.

What motivated you to apply for the position as Science and Innovation Attaché in Bangalore?

Being the world's biggest democracy and a growing economy, India is hard to ignore. I have worked with research and innovation projects for several years in many different organizations. However, as Science and Innovation attaché, you get the chance to work strategically with innovation, e.g., through bilateral research calls on a much bigger scale. In addition, I was also attracted by the opportunity to work abroad for a longer period, which allows you to thoroughly familiarize yourself with another culture.

Søren på talerstol
Regional EU R&I Tour Chandigarh 23. September 2022. 

What do you think will be the biggest change for you in your new job – professionally and privately?

In terms of work, I think the position in many ways is an extension of what I have been doing earlier, i.e., operating in the intersection of research, industry, and policy. Previously, I was primarily involved in applying for and implementing research projects, whereas now I am working on the other side of the system – providing the resources needed to realize projects – and this gives a new perspective on the entire innovation system, which I think is very interesting.

Privately, to take my two children out of kindergarten and school, say goodbye to friends and family, and move from the city of Aarhus to enormous Bangalore is a big change. However, we have lived abroad before and this experience has been useful for us.

What do you think you will miss in Denmark – work-wise and privately?

In terms of work, I will of course miss the colleagues I have left behind and the interesting projects I was working on. In addition, I am missing the ability to walk to work instead of spending hours in heavy traffic with cars, motorbikes, tuk tuks, cows, and so on. Bangalore is facing some pretty serious challenges with regard to traffic density, so even travelling small distances may take up a lot of your time.

Privately, I will miss family and friends, and playing drums in my cozy rock band. We have played together for 15 years, which is longer time than The Beatles – no comparison intended. Although you can get almost anything in Bangalore, I am missing several everyday things. For example, it is not so easy to find freshly baked bread or a bacon cheeseburger.

Søren i Bangalore
Regional EU R&I Tour Chandigarh 23. September 2022

What are you most looking forward to in your new job?

I look forward to learning much more about India and the Indian ecosystem of research and innovation. India has a rapidly growing number of startups – especially within IT and biotechnology, which are sectors particularly strong around Bangalore – and the tech sector provides a huge amount of new jobs every year. Things are on a completely different scale compared to Denmark and I find bridging two so different countries very interesting.

What is the first thing you will be working on?

One of the first things I have been doing is to familiarize myself with the existing projects that I have taken over from my predecessor. We have just sent a number of students off to an elite summer school in robotics in Odense and we will soon finish the last phase of the Danish Water Challenge where students and startups work on issues related to the water sector. Next step is to start planning some of next year's activities and projects.

What do you think the Danish research and educational institutions can get out of collaborating with knowledge environments in India?

India is soon to be the most populous nation on the planet and has over 40,000 Higher Education Institutions. There is no doubt that India will play a decisive role in creating a sustainable future for the world, and although we have excellent research resources in Denmark, the solutions must also be adapted and scaled to India if they are to have a global impact.
Søren i Bangalore
Consulate General of Denmark in Bangalore, India.

What do you hope to have achieved in three years?

I hope to have built long-lasting relationships between Indian and Danish actors that will extends far beyond the three years. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest from both sides to make closer ties and collaborate in many areas. Ideally, I hope that my work will have contributed to solving problems that will help promote the green transition globally.

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