Insights from Copenhagen

We spoke with Oliver Hall from Copenhagen Capacity about their strategy to become the world's first carbon-neutral capital city. Oliver will hold a keynote at Smart City Challenge and will share with us some insights from Denmark.

1. Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Oliver Hall, and I head up the Tech Investments at Copenhagen Capacity, the regional development agency for Greater Copenhagen. It is my role to attract foreign tech companies here, whether it be a Japanese conglomerate establishing a European big data R&D centre here, a British mobile app developer start-up opening a regional HQ, or a Silicon Valley company opening a Nordic AI centre. I work across many different verticals and we have some incredibly fun projects.

2. What makes the City of Copenhagen “smart”?
The City of Copenhagen created a strategy to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital city by 2025, and has set very clear goals across energy production, energy consumption, mobility and city administration. The city is an expert in incorporating ICT to enhance the quality and performance of urban services – but the overarching aim is to enhance the quality of living for its citizens.

3. What is the main purpose of Copenhagen Capacity and how did it change the city so far?
Copenhagen Capacity is the official organisation for investment promotion and economic development in Greater Copenhagen. Our services are entirely free-of-charge for all foreign-owned companies, who want to establish or invest in Greater Copenhagen, and are provided in full confidentiality.
Every year we attract an average of 35 foreign companies and create around 1,500 highly-skilled jobs for Greater Copenhagen. We ensure that the regional remains internationally competitive, and we have awards from the World Bank, United Nations, Financial Times etc. for being the best in class for our work in foreign direct investment, cluster creation and regional branding.

4. What do you like most about your work?
I can think of no better job than to be trusted with tax-payers’ money, to travel the world and meet some fascinating business and political leaders, to learn every day about new global technological trends, in a great organisation and in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet that has the world’s best work-life balance, in order to create growth and success (and a large return on the tax-payers’ money). It is a huge privilege that I never take for granted.

5. What is going to be your next project?
Professionally, I’m focusing a lot of my time on A.I., and we have some incredible case studies where we invited SMEs from Tokyo, Singapore, Silicon Valley etc. to create solutions using Danish big data sets. It was featured on the national news, and I’m hoping to build on this success and momentum with more fun projects.
Personally, I just became a father to a half British/Japanese ninja-baby, and I’m looking forward to 27 fully-paid weeks of paternity-holiday with him … and with some additional hobbies & projects in my spare time.

6. What steps would you recommend for a city like Düsseldorf to become more sustainable?
If you think firstly of how to improve citizens’ quality of life, then the technological challenges become much clearer for the city.

7. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
The United Nations always rank the Nordics as the world’s happiest countries, and I wish that the other 190 countries could experience this with their work-life, with more time for friends and family.

8. What would the perfect city look like?
Easily Copenhagen. But with Californian weather, Osakan cuisine, more English pubs and my British & Japanese families both living here with me.

Thank you for the interview, Oliver, and see you at Smart City Challenge in Düsseldorf!