The Mads Clausen Award for Intrapreneurship 2007 was presented on Friday 16 November 2007 to Karsten Nielsen, the Founder and CTO of Bang & Olufsen ICEpower a/s.
Jørgen Mads Clausen of Danfoss presented the award, which is worth approximately DKK 75,000, at a ceremony at Alsion in Sønderborg, Denmark.
Karsten Nielsen is honoured to receive the award, which is given every year to an outstanding entrepreneur or a team that has made an extraordinary contribution to the Danish entrepreneurial effort (for example, by starting up a new business area.) Karsten is also very modest about it:
My immediate reaction was, I wondered whether I really deserved this award. ICEpower is not a stable and a well-established company yet. We still have a lot to prove, says ICEpowers founder.
On the other hand, we do achieve good bottom-line figures and have been named a gazelle company, so perhaps, it is justified. It is a nice pat on the shoulder for the company and our 45 employees, adds Karsten Nielsen.
The Danish newspaper Dagbladet Børsen has recently included Bang & Olufsen ICEpower a/s in the herd of this years gazelle companies, indicating that ICEpower is among the fastest growing in Denmark. ICEpower, which develops efficient and high-performance amplifiers, has reached the turnover of DKK 117 million and income before tax of DKK 39 million in the last financial year.
It is very important for me personally that it was Jørgen Mads Clausen who presented the award. He is my role model in Denmark: Jørgen Mads does not just think innovation and entrepreneurship, he takes action. What he does with his initiatives the innovation camps and investment into start-up ventures – is powerful and courageous, says Karsten Nielsen.
Although ICEpower has come this far, its founder emphasises that turbulent times are ahead.
I have no doubt that ICEpower has a great potential we have really just started tapping into the potential of our products and technology. However, there are a large number of challenges ahead. For instance, establishing a global organisation, which would open up sales channels for ICEpower. This is our greatest limitation at the moment: we are still dependent on several large customers. On the other hand, most innovative and entrepreneurial start-ups face this reality, says Karsten.
The risk of things going otherwise than planned, in particular, prevents many people from daring to take the plunge of free entrepreneurship. If one is to commercialize a good idea, it takes courage to take the risk. Succeeding with a technology start-up also requires continuous endurance, determination, as well as a great deal of luck. In short, it is a serious challenge.
Denmark should develop its entrepreneurial spirit
Everyone agrees on the importance of having entrepreneurs in the country, be it entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs – it is a modern conversation topic in the Danish corporate, educational and political circles. There are also a number of foundations that provide financial support on a million-kroner-scale these days. This is certainly a very good situation, but money and political determination do not always lead to successful business ventures. It takes strong visions, actions and people behind concrete initiatives. I believe that we in Denmark can and must improve in this respect, says Karsten Nielsen.
Karsten hopes that ICEpower and similar examples will inspire other potential entrepreneurs of how one can establish a technology start-up or even open up a whole new business area in collaboration with a well-established company, as ICEpower has done with the help of Bang & Olufsen.
It is probably not a traditional Danish way to think yet, but I hope that our example would inspire students, people employed in companies, researchers and other individuals with great new ideas. Starting up ones own business is an exciting way to go, says Karsten.
At Bang & Olufsen, ICEpowers development and the spirit of determination, which characterised ICEpowers early years, are greatly appreciated.
ICEpower has been driven by a great vision, which has been heavily evaluated and re-evaluated by B&O Group over the short life of the start-up. From internal scepticism in the Group as for the viability of the start-up, to significant overestimation by stock analysts in the time prior to bursting of the IT bubble, says Peter Petersen, Senior Director for Business Innovation.
ICEpower has proven its viability. Today, it contributes with great growth and profits to the Group. We still see a great growth potential and new application areas for ICEpower technology,he adds.