Ons 1 dec / År 39 / Nr 4 2021

Driving the deep tech future with Futurebox

The science and technology park DTU Science Park, part of the technical University of Denmark, is home to over 260 companies and more than 3400 people. The park, which was first established in 1962 by the Technological-Scientific Research Council of Denmark, is split over two sites, in Hørsholm and Lyngby, and has an increasing focus on deep tech through Futurebox.

DTU Science Park, previously known as Scion DTU, has its roots going back to 1962. The park has grown and changed over the years, with the latest step onward in its sixth decade the creation of Futurebox, its deep tech incubator and accelerator.
“We wanted to keep our focus on wider biotech and medtech, but also create an incubator within the science park that could focus on the most promising companies within deep tech,” said Steen Donner, CEO.
Besides life sciences there are also cleantech, sensortech and IT companies onsite, as well as service companies. Residents include established global companies such as Chr. Hansen, Roche, ALK-Abelló, and FMC Corporation, as well as small and medium companies and startups. DTU Science Park also owns 50% of COBIS, the Copenhagen Bio Science Park, which is home to over a hundred biotech companies.

Working and growing at DTU Science Park
DTU Science Park makes 180,000 sq m of offices and laboratories available to companies, and this can be customised as required. The site also includes shared facilities for both work and social use, including prototyping workshops, meeting rooms, conference centre, coffee bars and a kindergarten. The science park also provides practical support from consultants and mentors, and tailored acceleration programmes, as well as networking, professional events and masterclasses.
The ‘cluster effect’ of being part of a community is very important, Donner explained, as companies benefit from being close to potential partners such as contract research and manufacturing organisations. The proximity to the university and to other companies also means access to a pool of talented, educated and experienced personnel.
According to Donner, access to finance is becoming easier for biotech and medtech startups. One of the routes to funding at DTU Science Park is through a funding event that includes ‘reverse pitches’. Donner has seen close to 20 different funding sources pitching to an audience of startups.

Futurebox: Shining the light on deep tech
What sets DTU Science Park apart from other science parks is its strong focus on deep tech. Deep tech is based on engineering research innovations and new technologies rather than on iterations of existing technology in new business models, or software solutions. Futurebox, officially opened in May 2018 by Fable the robot, is a home for startups that are bringing this kind of new high-tech to the market.
“Many startups are based on old technology but used in a new way. Futurebox will be home to startups that use brand new research and technology in biotech and medtech,” said Donner. “The industry of tomorrow will be built here.”
Deep tech projects tend to take longer to get to market, as their testing takes longer. Deep tech companies also grow more slowly and burn more cash on the way.
“Most accelerators and incubators are based on companies that can grow fast and get products to the market quickly. For deeptech, each stage takes much longer. We are creating a place where startups can stay and remain supported for much longer,” said Donner.
The Futurebox labs and offices are built from 16 old 40-foot shipping containers from China, alongside a 1600 sq m building. The shipping containers will be home to between 30 and 40 deep tech companies selected from the best and most promising startups and established companies, and the building will provide access to prototyping labs.
“We have room for around 140 people and have around 100 on site at the moment. We would like to attract startups from overseas as well to create an international community, and this would give us potential to expand. We are also looking to form alliances with similar incubators and accelerators with a deep tech focus around the world,” said Donner.