Like Silicon Valley, Pittsburgh, and the Boston area in the U.S., certain robotics clusters around the world are responsible for advancing technology and businesses. In 2019, companies around Odense, Denmark, “significantly strengthened their global footprint,” according to a report that Odense Robotics released today.
Robotics companies in the region increased their workforce abroad by 25% last year to 950 employees, almost double the amount of two years ago, said the Insight Report. Meanwhile, companies increased their workforce in the Danish cluster by 8% to 3,900 people total. The Odense robotics cluster includes 133 companies, 41% of which work on collaborative or mobile robots and related products.
“Many robotic companies are born global, and Odense’s industry is no exception,” stated Mikkel Christoffersen, cluster director at Odense Robotics. “New figures from this year’s Odense Robotics Insight Report show that the cluster now employs close to 5,000 people in total worldwide.”
“Having established strong R&D functions in their home market, this report clearly demonstrates that robot and automation companies in the Odense area of Denmark are expanding globally more than ever before,” he said.
Strong financial results for Odense robotics firms
While automotive manufacturing and other markets for automation experienced a possibly temporary slowdown, the Danish robotics cluster’s focus on internationalization generated positive financial results in 2018, the last year for which performance figures are available. Despite challenging economic conditions, many companies expect continued strong growth, said Odense Robotics.
Since 2015, 20 startups in the Odense Robotic StartUp Hub have secured more than €20 million ($22.2 million U.S.) in external investments and more than €6 million ($6.6 million) in soft money, said the organization.
In 2018, exports rose by an impressive 26% to reach €643 million ($715.7 million U.S.) compared with the previous year. The companies surveyed said they expect that export growth to continue. More than 80% of them plan to export in the future, a steep rise from today, when just over half of Odense robotics companies export their products.
Turnover increased by 18% on 2017 to reach €897 million ($998.5 million) in 2018, found the Insight Report. A large majority of robotics companies expect a more than 20% increase in turnover for 2020 to 2022 compared with 2018.
“Companies generated impressive growth in exports and turnover in 2018,” said Christoffersen. “While today’s challenging marketing conditions will inevitably have an impact on companies, new figures in our Insight Report show that many companies in Odense Robotics expect continued strong growth.”
“More than 80% of companies in the cluster plan to export in the future, and the large majority expect to increase turnover by more than 20% in the next couple of years,” he added. “There is good reason to be optimistic.”
Extensive network of global partners
For the first time, figures are available for international collaboration, and they show a cluster with an extensive network of global partners, said Odense Robotics. Almost half of Odense robotics companies collaborate with others internationally, including Universal Robots, OnRobot, and Blue Ocean Robotics. And more than one in four companies in the cluster collaborates with research and educational institutions abroad.
Collaboration is also thriving in the robotics industry across Denmark. More than 60% of companies on the island of Funen collaborate with other robot and automation companies in the rest of the country. It’s time Denmark leveraged these synergies in a strong national setup that accelerates growth in Odense and across the country, said Christoffersen.
“Our goal is to create a national cluster that accelerates growth amongst robotics companies in Odense and the rest of Denmark,” he said. “We will do this by continuing to strengthen the epicenter in Odense and at the same time extending growth opportunities to innovative, high-growth, robotics companies across the country. It’s about leveraging synergies so we can build on Odense’s success and Denmark’s global position of strength.”
Available talent continues to be the greatest barrier to growth for cluster companies, said the report. This year, 22% of companies expect to recruit from abroad for positions. This is an increase from last year, when 15% of companies recruited from abroad to the Odense robotics cluster.