Analysis for the Danish Water Export Strategy
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Denmark • Dec 2020 - Jan 2021
The Danish water industry comprises leading technologies, knowledge and expertise across the water value chain and across smaller and medium-sized companies, corporates, consultancies, universities and utilities. The breadth and diversity of the Danish water sector makes its strong position for global export. The total export volume of water technologies in 2019 was 20.6 billion Danish Kroner.
A multi-stakeholder task force of industry, government, universities and interest organizations set out to develop the first Danish Water export strategy. The strategy aims to pave the way to double the export activities of the sector by 2030.
Quercus Group provided a diagnostic study to the task force as a fundament to define a guiding policy and coherent actions for the Danish Water Export Strategy.
The Danish Water Export Strategy can be found on the press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Denmark..
Analyzing the Danish water sector through an export lens
What are the strengths of the Danish water sector? What are the current predominant go-to markets for Danish water companies? What markets will be key in the future? What are current barriers, drivers, dynamics and trends impacting the export activities of Danish water technologies?
Our analyses of the Danish water sector from an export point of view shed light on these questions. It brought together the insights from a survey among 75 Danish water technology providers and stakeholders, 20 key-informant interviews and data from various reports, documents and databases.
The analyses highlighted
the strongholds of the Danish water sector,
the current status-quo of export dynamics and where Danish companies perceive emerging opportunities in the future,
current barriers to export activities,
drivers and existing export support functions that work,
current and emerging trends relevant to the Danish water sector.
export strategies and measures of other nations with strongholds on water.
Finally, we developed seven scenarios as action-oriented proposals for the Danish water export strategy and the task force.
Coordination, Partnerships and Alignment
From our point of view, a good strategy promoting increased export activities of Danish Water technologies would benefit from policies and actions with a focus on effective coordination, alignment and building alliances and coalitions.
Many measures, efforts and support functions on export for the water industry, from marketing to financial assistance, exist in Denmark and are carried out by multiple agencies and organizations. However, our observation shows that these measures too often insufficiently take into account the diversity of the Danish water sector. For instance, small and medium-sized companies focus on closer markets, while larger corporates are interested in larger markets further away.
Export support measures tend to be fragmented and isolated. Hence, efforts to coordinate among support agencies will foster a more coherent approach to exporting Danish water technologies.
Improved coordination might also prove an effective avenue to align existing support functions towards providing tailored towards company-size and where expedient also subsector.
Finally, the coordination subject extends into an effective measure for export. Both the survey and the interviews highlighted international partnerships, e.g. city-to-city partnerships, as an effective way to position Danish strongholds.
The Danish water export strategy was developed as a multi-stakeholder effort reflecting the necessity for coordinated measures in order to be successful.
Getting the market-fit right
Danish water technologies can be considered globally at the top end in terms of innovation, effectiveness and quality. Yet, we observe that business opportunities in foreign markets remain untapped. Danish solutions are homegrown and do not always plug into international markets' local challenges and needs.
Thus, we proposed measures to better feed local knowledge back to the Danish companies as well as establish opportunities to co-create solutions with local partners for a better market-fit of Danish water solutions.
For example, the latter might be an international partnership, where a larger, and preferable local company bid together on a tender with the Danish company as a subcontractor. Open innovation challenges are also avenues to adapt products and solutions to market.
About the study for the Danish water export strategy
We performed the analysis from December 2020 to January 2021 for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. The study was intended as input for the multi-stakeholder task force and can be found here. You are welcome to reach out for further information.task force
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