LINX director: New innovation system is the way to export adventure

The Danish innovation system must arm itself to support the evolution of new climate technologies; or else we will be delaying the green conversion, writes LINX-CEO Jacob Becker-Christensen.

Ove Munch from Frichs Pyrolysis
Ove Munch from FRICHS Pyrolysis.
Photo: LINX.

“Pyrolysis may become the next green game changer”. This is how 11 Danish actors within climate and renewable energies write on the 11th of November in Altinget.

The 11 actors encourage politicians to invest in pyrolysis technology, which turns biomass into energy. It will give Denmark the opportunity for a new, large, and green area of business.

I agree 10%. The technique carries unique advantages towards the climate. Pyrolysis produces environmentally friendly biogas – which can be turned into liquid biofuel, and it binds carbon from the biomass into stable biochar. The technique can thus remove CO2 from the atmosphere, i.e. a negative CO2-footprint! Biochar even enhances agricultural production when spread on fields.

Lack of support delays innovation
But … we had the opportunity to act on pyrolysis a decade ago. E.g.: Nature, a scientific Journal, printed a study, which determined that 12% of humanity’s annual CO2 emissions can be removed with biochar without conflicting with other biomass projects.

And some foresightful innovators grabbed the opportunity at that point. Among them was Ove Munch from Horsens: Engineer, inventor, and today CEO of the company Frichs Pyrolyse. His goal was to make pyrolysis sustainable and suited for all types of biomasses.

In the meantime, this turned out to be unpredictably difficult. Ove Munch has struggled to find financing for his pyrolysis technology for eight years. He has often applied for public funds and spoken in agendas for biogas, CO2-binding, and fertilizer values.
It has amounted to small funds, though the seriously large step for pyrolysis demands a public all-round investment in a much wider scope. This is the exact point made by the 11 actors.

We need to learn from pyrolysis
Today, against all odds, Ove munch has a technology that has a proven track record, can be scaled, and he understands why it works. If pioneers like him were backed by 10-15 mill. they would be able to take great strides incredibly fast. Even back in 2010, and I hope that something is going to change now.

But this does not change that for 10 years we have unnecessarily delayed paramount technology for the climate and a potential export adventure. How do we avoid this happening again with the next green game changer?

My answer, we must that a thorough look at the danish innovation support system.

Today, the system mainly focuses on multimillion projects through complicated and time demanding application in large partnerships. It is fit only to build high, elegant bridges over deep innovation gorges towards ambitious goals in one great leap.

What companies want is in the meantime nothing more than rude planks they continuously can place in on top of the ditches in front of them. I.e. chain-innovation I pocket-format. Continuous sequences of smaller grants that are much easier to apply for. That is something inventors like Ove Munch could have used for many years.

Innovation platforms are the solution
One way to deliver this is through innovation platforms – dedicated organizations that continuously find financial support through micro-innovation partnerships between companies and knowledge institutions within certain themes.

Innovation platforms make it easer and less risky for companies to walk the green path. Unfortunately, they are greatly underestimated for now.

LINX, for which I am CEO, operates as an innovation platform. It is a long-term investment by Innovation Fund Denmark with many members, small as well as large companies. The small companies, where many green ideas are born, are especially fond of innovation served in a toolbox-format done in small steps and in cooperation with e.g. universities.

This kind of innovation can be done with a limited budget, but funding is critical. And the application process must be easy and quick. Small companies rarely have the time or experience for anything larger or more complicated.

And micro-innovation works. It has been successful in LINX time and time again. Shortly put: If Denmark wishes to take lead in the green conversion and armed innovation system is the only way towards new, climate saving technology – and Denmark-s next green export adventure.

Read the Danish version at Aktør: Nyt innovationssystem kan bane vejen for grønt eksporteventyr.

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