The German-Danish border region may well be the most open border in Europe. The people here have been living together and exchanging cultures for almost 100 years. The SG Flensburg-Handewitt is more than a renowned handball team, it’s a second home for Danish citizens. This can be witnessed in the team’s home arena, the Flens-Arena, at every of their games. Open mindedness, a lot of support and cooperation are the characteristics of the living together of Danes and Germans already. But Jørgen Mads Clausen is convinced that there could be more of all of these and that the status quo is not quite enough yet. Many people from the region will know Clausen (Danfoss) as a poster child for cross-border cooperation and a new understanding of what the region can be. In his vision of a digital valley the border region grows even closer together, borders disappear and the region sees itself and is seen as a whole. In his keynote Clausen told the audience his father’s founding story and how he experienced the founding of Danfoss himself. But the global success of his business did not stop Jørgen Mads Clausen from wanting “more” and so he keeps looking for innovations. One of his latest projects is SaltPower. SaltPower generates energy from salt domes and pillows. Clausen was able to win strong partners for this start-up: Apart from Danfoss, the Japanese company Toyobo is on board. 

Picture 1: Jørgen Mads Clausen talks about his own
experience as a founder in his keynote (Photo credit: Rossi)

Schleswig-Holstein State Secretary Dr. Thilo Rohlfs from the Ministry of Economic Affairs had already expressed how impressed he was by the start-up activities in and around Flensburg at the “Nordische Abend” of Flensburg University of Applied Sciences. On Thursday evening the Ministry was represented by Johannes Hartwig who underlined the exceptional offers and possibilities for start-ups in Schleswig-Holstein.

In the shark tank: a test run for the VenturePitch

The VentureWærft will hold a new event next year and the conVenture was the test stage for a small-sized version of it. The VenturePitch is modelled after the well-known T.V. show “Shark Tank” (“Løvens Hule” in the Danish version and “Höhle der Löwen” in Germany). One start-up from Denmark and one from Germany had the chance to present their idea to three experts from the region (Georg Banner for MBG SH, Dr. Peter Rehders for Baltic Business Angels SH and Stig Poulsen for Vækstfonden). Other than in the T.V. show, the VenturePitch experts weren’t there to make an investment in the start-ups but to provide feedback and their own experience. 

WaterInstinct from Germany and coduction from Denmark presented themselves to the three sharks and almost 300 audience members. The start-ups had seven minutes to convince the audience of their idea, afterwards they faced the experts’ questions. The VenturePitch will be extended further next year and become a stand-alone event.


Picture 2: WaterInstinct at the VenturePitch (photo credit: Rossi)

 Spinning yarn and stories from real life: start-up stories:

Madeleine von Hohental and Benjamin Wenke (Bracenet) had come from Hamburg to introduce “Bracenet: Save the Seas. Wear a net.“ and allow the audience a glimpse into upcycling. A lot of people dream of saving the oceans. For a social business this certainly is an ambitious goal. Madeleine and Benjamin had the support of great partners for their – very successful – first steps. They had brought their Bracenets to the Start-Up Pier to happy and curious customers keen to support the cause and raise awareness for the need to save the seas.   Stories from start-up life are the heart and soul and an integral part of every of conVenture: The founders don’t spin yarn here, they shed light on what life really looks like in a start-up – including all the obstacles, the downs but most of all the positive moments. People who read the programme closely may already have suspected as much from the title of Kenneth Madsen’s (DXTR Labs) start-up story. In “Startups are ugly” he put an end to the image of the ever-happy and cool life in a start-up where everyone plays foosball all the time. Start-ups require hard work and this may lead to fights among the team, to tears even and, if worse comes to worst, former co-founders and collaborators go separate ways. Kenneth’s start-up path has had its bumpy stretches but the road ahead of him awaits him with great partners such as Walt Disney and offices in San Francisco. 

Picture 3: 300 is a crowd (Photo credit: Rossi)

Chatting on the Start-Up Pier

It has become a cherished tradition over the years to enjoy snacks and drinks on the Start-Up Pier and discuss specifically interesting details of the start-up stories. More than a dozen start-ups were there to answer the curious questions of the interested participants. One of the highlights definitely was BlackBox Classics: Fans of classic cars were able to test sit a Citroën 2CV. The 13th edition of this networking event definitely had the most diverse Start-Up Pier so far – jewellery was on display as well as clothing and recycled products, there was a balance bike and the 2CV mentioned before, IKEA covers, a vegan catering service and ideas from IT.

Picture 4: 15 start-ups from Germany and Denmark presented
themselves on the Start-Up Pier (Photo credit: Rossi)

 A new approach to pitch training: Acoustic charisma profiling and training

VentureWærft start-ups from the various docks had the exclusive opportunity to participate in a pitch training including a video analysis taking place right before the conVenture. Oliver Niebuhr (SDU) put a special focus on the proper use of language in the acoustic charisma profiling and training.

Picture 5: Networks were spun until late
in the evening (Photo credit: Jordt)


The conVenture is a networking event dealing with everything start-up in the German-Danish border region. It is a place where start-ups (and start-ups to be), people offering support for founders, experienced business people, investors and people interested in entrepreneurship and starting a company can meet. Next to two start-up stories from young founders our main focus is on networking and the Start-up Pier, a small fair presenting regional campus start-ups. The event will be held in English. For more information on the VentureWærft and the conVenture visit www.venturewaerft.comThe conVenture is a joint event by the German and Danish VentureWærft docks. Dr. Werner Jackstädt Centre for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Chamber of Industry and Commerce Flensburg, Technologiezentrum Flensburg, Syddansk Universitet (Entrepreneurship Labs & Mads Clausen Institute) and Sønderborg Iværksætter Service. Next to these partners the VentureWærft consists of experienced business people and start-ups from the region. The VentureWærft is supported in its work by the Grenzland INNOVATIV Schleswig-Holstein project. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Joint Science Conference.


Have a look at our video: 


The VentureWærft is part of the project "Grenzland INNOVATIV Schleswig-Holstein (GrinSH)". This project of Flensburg University of Applied Sciences is part of the funding initiative Innovative Hochschule which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Joint Science Conference.




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