This morning we welcomed over 80 investors to the official launch of Danish Ventures – Investing in Design to Improve Life. The world’s first global venture capital fund that will invest in solutions aimed at solving the world’s greatest challenges.
As we announced late last year, we have formed a unique collaboration with investment company Dansk OTC to establish the fund worth DKK 300 million (EUR 40 million). The fund will exclusively invest in designs submitted for the INDEX: Award – the world’s largest design prize.
Chairman of the Board at INDEX: Design to Improve Life® Jens Wittrup Willumsen, opened the event by welcoming our guests. He then explained the basics of Danish Ventures and introduced the two partnering companies. Minister of Business and Growth Troels Lund Poulsen, then gave the official welcoming speech, expressing his support for the venture and offering his congratulations.
“Denmark is already well known as a design nation, but now Danish Ventures can be the starting point for investing in very good design projects and jobs,” he said. “My hope is that some of the designs, which Danish Ventures invests in, will move to Denmark and create jobs.”
Offering some expert advice on fund establishment and management, we then heard from Dr. Brian Hashemi, Investor, Managing Partner at Salus Partners (CH), and author of ‘The 7 Principles for Wealth Creation in a New Financial World’. Brian gave an inspiring talk about his former medical research with NASA, his work with the Medtech Summit, and finally, his experiences working with Salus Partners – a regulated Swiss investment firm with special expertise in proven healthcare technologies.
“We have all this incredible technology, but our healthcare systems can still be quite archaic,” he explained. “We want to help investors understand their participation in terms of facilitating growth. But, it’s not just about bringing money to the table, there are a lot of other important factors to consider when bringing design to the world.”
Other key notes from Brian’s talk included a series of essential steps when evaluating potential investments.
Martin Rasmussen (pictured), Parter at Dansk OTC and CEO of Danish Ventures, then took the stage to provide the formal introduction to Danish Ventures, including a detailed summary of the fund and its objectives. To show our guests the great potential of Danish Ventures, our CEO Kigge Hvid, then presented some of the best designs from the INDEX: Award pipeline, demonstrating the great spectrum of industries that design can influence. Specific examples included: the Tesla Roadster, M-Pesa, Nest, Urban Sky Vertical Farming System, Redesigning Breast Cancer, and Okhi.
“Of course returns are important, but in the future we also want to show investors where they have made an impact, and the lives they have changed”
To leave on a thought-provoking note, Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator for Design and Architecture and Director of Research and Development at MoMA in New York (US), gave an enlightening talk about the current state of design, and how it has created value in the world. Specifically, she spoke about how far design has come, and the on-going journey of ‘changing the taxonomy’ of design.
“Design is about improving your own state, so it should be an attitude applied to aspects of our every day lives,” she said.
Paola gave some powerful examples of how design has broken down barriers – in religion for example – and facilitated growth in solving a vast array of health, social, political and environmental issues. One key example she referred to was architectural firm Elemental, and how groundbreaking their work has been in developing communities of Chile.
“Architects were always the resistant, ecocentric people in the design world, if they are changing and adapting, designers can too,” she said.
“until now, many of the previous attempts to make an investment fund dedicated to design have not focused on the right aspects”
An open Q&A with the audience was held to close the official event. There was a diverse range questions coming from both the design and financial perspective, keeping all of our speakers on their toes.
We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all the investors and other distinguished guests who attended. We look forward to the next big steps of Danish Ventures – Investing in Design to Improve Life, combining the power of capital with the innovation of design.