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DKK 55 million for youth innovation, engagement and entrepreneurship

Annual Review Article 2020

The voluntary organisation SPIR (”germinate”) creates positive change through events at which activists can present green, social or cultural ideas and win funding to make them happen. Photo: SPIR

The Tuborg Foundation’s strategic focus on young people helps to ensure that the next generations have more opportunities to come together to contribute to the future with new knowledge, engagement and a desire to create change. In a world facing big challenges, new perspectives are vital to our society and particularly to industry, which the Tuborg Foundation supports by boosting opportunities for young people.

By Peter Giacomello, head of secretariat, the Tuborg Foundation

The Tuborg Foundation has teamed up with World’s Best News and the Danish Youth Council offering Denmark’s first nationwide miniprogramme in the Sustainable Development Goals and constructive journalisim to train 75 young volunteers as SDG ambassadors. Photo: Operation Dagsværk

In 2019, the Tuborg Foundation distributed just under DKK 55 million to projects that aim to boost young people’s communities and opportunities to contribute to society. 

The Tuborg Foundation has been part of the commercial Carlsberg Foundation since 1991 but has worked for more than 85 years to promote socially beneficial projects, in particular in support of Danish industry. 

That aim is no less relevant today and, over the years, the Tuborg Foundation’s objective has been translated into initiatives that have contributed in many ways to Danish society, taking the Founder’s intentions as a starting point.

Young people showing the way

The Tuborg Foundation’s focus for its current strategy period (2017-2020) is young people. 

These young people are the new generations, who together must use their shiny-new knowledge, spontaneous desire to shape the future, and different ways of looking at and doing things to safeguard the continued development of society. They are doing this already in communities of all sizes across Denmark where young people join forces to launch initiatives and realise dreams. 

For example, green think tank CONCITO has spent several years developing the GRO SELV project, which brings young people together for workshops across the country at which they exchange and experiment with green ideas in order to create sustainable solutions in collaboration with municipalities, educational institutions and neighbourhoods, etc. 

GRO SELV is supported by the Tuborg Foundation and demonstrates the vital role young people and their communities play in voluntary associations, local areas and on the labour market – because it is precisely in the community that the important feeling of being part of something bigger takes root, and the desire and the opportunity to make a difference grow. 

The Tuborg Foundation supports young people’s power of actions and entrepreneurship, enabling them to create both job opportunities and innovation

In this way, the Tuborg Foundation is increasing the focus on young society. By supporting young people’s desire to make a difference and get involved, we are creating opportunities for them to contribute to developing and reimagining the society of the future, not least industry. 

We do this by supporting initiatives that promote young people’s creativity and entrepreneurship, allowing ideas to mature so that they lead to both job opportunities and innovation. 

We also support projects that ease the transition from young adulthood to working life, for example traineeships, part-time jobs and business mentor schemes, as well as projects that test new methods for giving more young people job opportunities – particularly in partnerships between civil society and the public and private sectors. 

In addition, we support initiatives that ensure a diverse young talent pool across professions, making future industry as strong and competitive as possible. In 2019, 51.3% of the Foundation’s total funding was awarded to projects that support Danish industry.

Multi-year partnerships and small-scale initiatives

The Tuborg Foundation supports communities that are run by young people or for young people. In 2019, we received approximately 1,600 applications and awarded funding to 293 of them. 

We distributed DKK 10 million in grants of under DKK 100,000 – money that is distributed with a processing time of less than 10 days via a flexible application process, and which makes a big difference to small-scale initiatives, where young people gather other young people in communities based around local opportunities for influence or jobs, for example. 

The majority of the year’s funding was spent on larger grants to multi-year partnerships with organisations that focus on young people and share our ambition for young people to be able to contribute much more to society. 

In 2019, we distributed DKK 45 million to projects that promote opportunities for young people in areas including influence, jobs and entrepreneurship. These projects test and evaluate ideas and methods before potentially extending them to more youth communities and, ultimately, to the rest of society, including industry.

Innovation powerhouse hones young people’s business skills

A group of students from Copenhagen Business School have converted an old police station into the Nordic region’s first student-run “innovation powerhouse”, where young people from different educational backgrounds can create positive development and new solutions in society and industry. Photo: Student & Innovation House

In the autumn of 2020, Student & Innovation House will open the doors to the Nordic region’s first student-run innovation powerhouse. Over the last few years, a group of students from Copenhagen Business School have converted the former police station in Frederiksberg – a municipality in Copenhagen – into a place where young people can help to change the world. 

"Our courses provide the theory and tools, but we lack a place where we can put that knowledge into action and address global challenges. The Tuborg Foundation’s support makes this possible"
Maria Flora Andersen, Director of Student & Innovation House

The initiative behind Student & Innovation House comes from the students’ wish to be involved in coming up with and implementing new solutions to the complex challenges that the world is facing – solutions that must be conceived by working to a significant extent across professional boundaries and sectors. 

Many students already have a knowledge of sustainability, society and innovation, but the aim of the powerhouse is to give young people from different educational backgrounds the opportunity to put their knowledge to practical use and inspire one another to create positive development in society and industry. 

SDG Micro Grants for entrepreneurs

In 2019, the Tuborg Foundation and the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship jointly awarded 36 SDG Micro Grants to students who want to start their own business. 

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are within reach only if we activate new partnerships and promote innovation, and the purpose of the SDG Micro Grants is precisely to support PhD students and students in higher education who have ideas for new business models based on the SDGs. 

The Tuborg Foundation’s three-year partnership with the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship not only provides start-up capital for young entrepreneurs in the form of Micro Grants but also advice from a strong volunteer mentoring team of business leaders.

Sustainable social engagement

Over the next two years, the Tuborg Foundation will team up with World’s Best News – an independent news organisation for constructive journalism and campaigns – and the Danish Youth Council to train 75 young volunteers from Danish civil society organisations as SDG ambassadors. 

Offering Denmark’s first nationwide mini-programme in the Sustainable Development Goals and constructive journalism, the SDG Academy will provide the young ambassadors with the knowledge and skills they need to create change in their respective networks by means of presentations in schools, in their local communities and for youth organisations. The aim is for even more young people to become familiar with the SDGs and disseminate sustainable ways of living.

The Tuborg Foundation awarded an initial DKK 1 million grant to Student & Innovation House in 2017, and the project has subsequently been awarded a further DKK 3 million in funding to establish the powerhouse, engage students across Denmark in a large number of interdisciplinary innovation activities, and develop new ways for students, industry, the public sector and civil society to work together. 

Partnerships with more than 30 student organisations have already been established ahead of the official opening, and students from nearly all Denmark’s universities are involved in various projects initiated by Student & Innovation House as forerunners to the powerhouse’s future activities. 

One such project is Millennial, Consulting for impact, which carries out consultancy work for small and medium-sized enterprises based on interdisciplinary teams of students on bachelor’s, master’s and PhD programmes. 

The students gain valuable experience of translating their theoretical knowledge in a business context, equipping them for their future working lives. 

Sustainability Influencers is another of Student & Innovation House’s signature activities and involves students working to engage other young people in the sustainability agenda and mobilise them for action. 

This is done by means of analyses, events, participation in debates and lectures, as well as partnerships with key institutions and professional ”champions” passionate about sustainable solutions. 

Student & Innovation House does not work to a fixed agenda. The idea is that students work together to develop their projects and ideas themselves, defining how these can create change. 

In this way, Innovation House significantly develops young people’s ability to think in new ways, start something from scratch and, not least, work together on interdisciplinary solutions – skills that industry needs and that are vital to developing a sustainable society.

The Tuborg Foundation distributed just under DKK 55 million in 2019: DKK 10 million to small grants and projects where young people engage other young people in dynamic communities, and DKK 45 million to larger, longer-term grants and projects where organisations promote opportunities for young people and test new, scalable methods.

Young, green communities

From New Talent to Jobs in the Music Industry

Rhythmic music has been a particular priority for The Tuborg Foundation for many years, focusing on young talent and their opportunities both on- and backstage in the music industry business. Among other things, we support initiatives that promote young entrepreneurship in the Danish music industry and can create job opportunities and a young, diverse talent pool. In 2019, we supported the annual Musician’s Day in Copenhagen, hosted by the Danish amateur rhythmic musicians’ organisation (ORA) and targeted at new talent in the music industry. The event provided young musicians with inspiration and advice, through workshops and the opportunity to meet industry insiders and other musicians, who can get them closer to commercial releases and professional bookings.

Covid-19 Acute Fund

Ten days after Denmark’s lock-down in March 2020, The Tuborg Foundation established an emergency fund to ensure that young people’s communities could continue in new setups during the Covid-19 crisis. We processed applications daily and granted almost DKK 4.5 million to 45 different organisations. With considerable creativity and several new online offers, they managed to maintain young people’s communities and engagement, during a difficult time with social distancing and concern.

An increasing number of the Tuborg Foundation’s grants go to initiatives that involve young people promoting a sustainable agenda. In 2019, Den Grønne Studenterbevægelse (DGSB) – the green students’ movement – received funding from the Tuborg Foundation to train 16 young volunteer “Climate Leaders”, who will ensure DGSB is able to develop more local communities. 

DGSB was started in 2018 by students from various educational institutions, who have joined forces to create a dynamic community that supports young people’s opportunities to get involved in the climate battle but which is for everyone who wants to fight for a green shift in society. 

The community started in Copenhagen but in just a year has spread to locally embedded divisions in Aalborg, Aarhus, Haderslev, Roskilde and Odense, with both previously engaged young people and young people who have never before been politically active finding that young people can exert influence and do have opportunities to act. 

DGSB is experiencing a high level of interest among young people in several towns who want to get involved and be part of an action-orientated community. 

However, its flat organisation – driven by the young people’s involvement via working groups – means there is a need to build up skills that ensure the community can keep on developing and, at the same time, maintain its action-orientated system of organisation. 

Among other things, the young Climate Leaders need to be trained in leadership, strategy, and the ability to work with and mobilise teams, so that they can enable other young people to act and thus strengthen the voice of young people in the climate battle. 

The Tuborg Foundation has supported the training of DGSB’s young Climate Leaders to the tune of DKK 50,000. 

The 16 Climate Leaders shall both train new leaders within the movement and support new local divisions in building stable and dynamic communities, so that many more young people across Denmark have the opportunity to engage in society and join forces to seek influence in an area that means a lot to them.