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Roskilde Festival turns up the ambitions: startup initiative gets “more muscle”

At this year’s Roskilde Festival, startups play a key role with a new initiative to help entrepreneurs and young companies test, develop and deliver tomorrow’s sustainable social solutions. We visited the Circular Laboratory.

130,000 people. That’s how many people gather at Roskilde Festival every year, making it a bigger city than Aalborg, Vejle and Randers in terms of population overnight. And this year, the invited entrepreneurs will make even more use of it.

With The Circular Laboratory, Roskilde Festival is turning up the heat on start-up ambitions and bringing together a number of young companies under one banner, all of which will be allowed to test their product and interact with users at the festival. But at the same time, startups will also get a range of new opportunities that the festival hasn’t offered before.

“In the past, Roskilde Festival may have acted more as a testing platform, and only for a few companies, but this year and going forward, our initiatives will have more muscle. This means that we won’t just let companies go after they’ve attended the festival. Instead, they will be offered a mentoring network, knowledge sharing and many other things. We want to avoid knowledge getting lost in individual companies and do away with silo innovation,” says Kristine Barenholdt Bruun, head of the Circular Laboratory, as she shows off the start-ups’ green solutions.

The initiative is hidden behind a circle of trees and greenery on the camping area of the festival. In the middle of it all is a big old barn, which you could probably call low-tech. However, the same cannot be said about the stalls inside the gate.

“The hope is to find tomorrow’s sustainable solutions and products,” says Kristine Barenholdt Bruun.

A temporary city

As the head of the Circular Laboratory talks, the environment around us is changing. Festival-goers stroll casually between stalls, activities and product demonstrations – clearly not bound by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Roskilde Festival therefore represents a very special vacuum, where no one has decided in advance how things will be designed, built or used.

“Many startups and entrepreneurs lack testing opportunities where they can also get solid, qualitative data on how their product performs technically and in interaction with users. That can be hard to come by in established urban environments. But Roskilde Festival gathers a large number of visitors on par with larger Danish cities, it’s easy to implement solutions here, and at the same time there’s an open culture, far from the everyday bias, that makes it an obvious place for entrepreneurs,” explains the leader of the initiative.

The idea is that the 28 entrepreneurs gathered in this year’s lab use the festival space to learn more about their solution or product, while gathering insights that help them move on to the next step in their journey.

“We have to think in new ways every year when we build a new festival, so it makes sense to use that innovation and constant development to also make a difference for the entrepreneurs and invite them in,” says Kristine Barenholdt Bruun about the special test environment with festival guests.

Facts: The Circular Laboratory

  • The Tuborg Foundation has granted a total of DKK 7,565,000 for a partnership between the foundation and the Circular Laboratory.
  • The aim is to give the next generation of young entrepreneurs the opportunity to push green development and the climate behaviour of Danes.
  • In total, 28 startups are participating at the Circular Laboratory this year.
  • The ambition is that over 200 startups over the next five years will go through the Circular Laboratory.
  • Among other things, the concepts will contribute to concrete solutions Roskilde Festival to make the event more sustainable

Startups will have a bigger role

The initiative has come about through a partnership between Roskilde Festival and the Tuborg Foundation. Towards 2025, the plan is to have 200 startups through the Circular Laboratory.

“It can be difficult as a young entrepreneur to navigate opportunities in funding, market and product, idea competitions, accelerators and incubator environments. With the Circular Lab, the ambition is therefore to help them find exactly where they are and what is the next good step for them. And to link their decisions to the knowledge they gain about users’ behaviour and interactions with the product at the festival,” describes Kristine Barenholdt Bruun

The Circular Laboratory, which was announced in early February, will in future ensure that entrepreneurs have a greater role at Roskilde Festival – both for the benefit of society and for the festival itself.

“As a festival, we need all the new and sustainable solutions we can get our hands on if we are to achieve our ambition of becoming climate neutral in the long term. So we clearly have an interest in getting to know many of these young entrepreneurs and helping to shape them,” says the head of the Circular Laboratory.

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