A Hub for Culture and Innovation in the Heart of Scandinavia

A couple with a pram are walking through Aarhus on their way towards Dokk1

writer icon Flavia Sandu     Photopop   |   City     🕐 14. Aug. 2018

Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, showcases a rich presence in fields such as entrepreneurship, sustainability, energy and culture. Selected as a finalist for the title of the European City of Innovation 2018, or iCapital, Aarhus has a clear set of goals for the future.

A hub for innovation
A  new innovation centre was opened at Dokk1 in 2015. The centre for innovation supports and strengthens projects that will create specific everyday improvements for the citizens. 

In particular, the centre works with projects that deal with promoting equality, increasing self-reliance, prevention and early action, the city’s development and growth, and increasing quality of life for the disabled. 

While the business sector is thriving, the sustainability aspect is not left behind. Dokk1, the multimedia building in the city centre, uses cold seawater instead of air for the ventilation system and solar panels, managing to meet the Danish class 2015 low energy requirements

On a wider scale, 87% of total Danish revenue from wind energy is generated in Greater Aarhus, showcasing the interest of the city in going green.

”Aarhus consists of knowledge institutions, businesses, citizens and the municipality – and the close relationship and cooperation between them, is what makes us a strong, innovative city."
The Mayor of Aarhus, Jacob Bundsgaard is quoted as saying on the iCapital Aarhus website, discussing the 2017 iCapital awards, in which Aarhus was also nominated. 

Bundsgaard continues, "Being an iCapital2017 finalist is a great acknowledgement of the cooperative work in the city. We can all be very proud of the way we manage to work together." 

In Denmark, Aarhus is known for its history. The cafe culture, its youthful energy brought by the great number of students, the modern art, and the music scene. Aarhus can be considered a cosmopolitan city in Europe, yet its size works against it. 

This creates an image of a grand metropolis crammed into a village. And while this can be a disadvantage, some may see this as a positive thing.

Aarhus, a city of culture.
Aarhus was selected as European Capital of Culture in 2017, giving it the chance to showcase its cultural lifestyle. The culture is one of the key aspects of Aarhus, from music and the performing arts to the two world-class museums. 

The city has been known for its live music scene since the 1950s. Events such as the Aarhus Festival, one of the largest cultural events in Scandinavia, Aarhus International Jazz Festival and NorthSide Festival are in the city every year.

A small giant in the EU
A fast-growing number of inhabitants, 9.1% of which are foreign nationals, 4.7% are unemployed, 17.6% are students. The increased need for housing spaces and integration are only some of the challenges Aarhus is facing.

The Aarhus Goals are a way for the city to address these challenges proactively. The goals aim to preserve and develop the city’s spirit of cooperation, social cohesion, liveability, diversity, and sustainability by focusing on citizen involvement. 

Some of the points include Aarhus, being CO2 neutral in 2030, the GDP in Business Region Aarhus reaching above the Danish average, and a push for a higher percentage of young people to accomplish an education.

With a well-managed promotional campaign and continuing to win a variety of titles, Aarhus could easily become a cultural and innovation hub in the heart of Scandinavia. Not only a hub for the Nordic region, but for all of Europe.

A city which can combine the old with the new, work towards sustainability and develop citizen participation could be an inspiration to other cities across Europe.

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