Jacob Bundsgaard, Mayor of Aarhus
This year, the Danish Food Cluster will host the annual IFAMA world conference, the largest international conference for food and agri-business executives and researchers. This is quite an achievement.
That the Danish Food Cluster has attracted the IFAMA conference to Denmark is the culmination of an impressive development since the establishment of the cluster in December 2013.
In just a few years, the Danish Food Cluster has succeeded in uniting the majority of Danish companies and institutions of knowledge in the food and agriculture sector. As an initiative driven and managed by food and agriculture sector businesses, the Danish Food Cluster has a solid foundation for its activities, which is reinforced by the breadth of its membership, which includes startups, SMEs and large companies.
The value of the ability to attract a major international conference such as the IFAMA annual world conference to Denmark can hardly be overstated. Numerous studies have documented that although the Danish food cluster is a world leader in food and agriculture research and development, the competences and expertise we have to offer do not yet have the international reputation their excellence actually deserves. Bringing the IFAMA annual world conference to Denmark is an example of how working together at a national level can generate international awareness and recognition of our strengths in food and agriculture.
The Danish food cluster is currently undergoing a major transformation. Many businesses are transitioning from mass production of minimally processed agricultural products to value-added, high quality products and ingredients. In the process, it’s important to explore how we can facilitate partnerships between food connoisseurs and food producers, so that we can help shift some of the enormous international interest in Nordic cuisine and Nordic ingredients to generate increased interest in the Danish food and agriculture industry. A number of Danish companies have already demonstrated that this strategy can strengthen their international competitiveness.
Another promising trend is that food industry companies are becoming increasingly interested in innovation partnerships with other businesses. We need to develop good models for these kinds of partnerships that ensure that all participants benefit. The Danish Food Cluster has an important role to play in helping to build mutual trust and providing inspiration for the development of these models. A number of companies are currently developing different forms of open innovation partnerships at Agro Food Park here in Aarhus. And with the relocation of Arla’s global R&D division and Aarhus University’s food-related research activities to Agro Food Park, the possibilities for innovative collaboration will become even more exciting in coming years in Business Region Aarhus.
Of course, there are also numerous fine examples of innovative food and agriculture partnerships in other parts of the country: in northern Jutland, Viborg, the triangle region, Vejen, southern Funen, the greater Copenhagen area and on Bornholm, new partnerships are emerging and creating growth. This is why working together to strengthen the Danish food and agriculture industry is so important. Our unity gives us strength. Together, we can work to ensure that we will continue to celebrate even more shared successes – successes like the IFAMA annual world conference.