AAU Update


A new report from the IRIS Group concludes that AAU is the country's most collaborative university. Photo: Nils Krogh


AAU remains the most collaborative university in Denmark, relative to the size of the university, according to a new report from the IRIS Group. The university has a significant green research profile with researchers providing research of the highest quality. AAU also has a strong, growing entrepreneurial environment, the report concludes.

By Lea Laursen Pasgaard, AAU Communication. Translated by LeeAnn Iovanni, AAU Communication

Aalborg University (AAU) maintains its position as the university in Denmark involved in the most external collaborative activities, relative to the size of the university. This applies to research and innovation partnerships with industry and public sector authorities, and in terms of the number of new research results commercialised.

This is one of the main conclusions of a new report done by the IRIS Group for AAU. The report focuses on the university's contribution to innovation, entrepreneurship and the green transition, and is based on data from interviews, questionnaire surveys, and bibliometric and register-based analyses.

- I’m delighted that what we are good at, what is an essential part of our identity and strategic aspirations, can be documented. Namely, to produce knowledge for the world that benefits society, says AAU Rector Per Michael Johansen.

The report concludes that AAU contributes to significant improvement in productivity among the companies the university works with. It also appears that AAU partnerships are broadly rooted. All of the university's 18 departments are involved in collaborative projects with the business community – both in terms of student projects and partnerships between researchers and companies. At the same time, AAU collaborations extend to companies in all sectors, size groups and regions.


The report also shows that the AAU is one of the country's leading universities in green research. Almost 30 percent of AAU's articles in green research are published in the 10 percent most prestigious journals – the highest proportion among Danish universities.

- It’s very important that we now have documentation that there is no contradiction between high research quality and broad cooperation with the world at large. We can be proud of that for good reason. In recent years, almost 90 percent of our researchers doing green research have partnered with a company or public sector authority. And more than 50 percent of these collaborative projects have led to innovation in a company, says the Rector.

AAU specialises in green energy and green transport where the university's researchers account for over a third of Danish research articles. The university's researchers are also very active in research on the circular economy and sustainable water resources, the report shows.


In recent years, as part of its Knowledge for the World strategy, AAU – with support including from private foundations – has invested significantly in building a stronger ecosystem for entrepreneurship. This goes for students, recent graduates and researchers. Efforts range from entrepreneurship campaigns and training to actual startup programmes and incubators where business developers advise the aspiring entrepreneurs.

The IRIS Group report shows major developments in this area at AAU. From 2010 to 2016, students and graduates have established approximately 1,100 AAU-based start-ups. The entrepreneurs come from all faculties and programmes, but most often have a technical or social science background.

- The report shows very clearly that AAU's many activities promoting entrepreneurship bear fruit. They strengthen participants' ability to, for example, establish a company based on new knowledge. And help them develop the courage to embark on entrepreneurial pursuits. We also see very clearly that activities and offerings in the AAU ecosystem have a significant impact on the subsequent growth and development of entrepreneurial companies, says Innovation Director Dorte Stigaard.

She also explains that in recent years, with strong strategic focus and impressive external funding, AAU has fostered entrepreneurship for both students and researchers, internally and externally, within the ecosystem.

- It's wonderful that things appear to be heading in the right direction. This bodes well for the future where we also have the Science & Innovation HUB on the horizon as a strong element in our overall effort, she says.


The results of the report will be incorporated into various presentation materials on AAU and will be particularly used in the university's dialogue with external partners and stakeholders.

You can read the full report here (in Danish) and contact the Rector’s Office Public Affairs Team if you want to know more about the report or its further use.


The IRIS Group collected data through a series of qualitative interviews with the Rector, the Innovation Director and key employees at AAU Innovation, as well as through three questionnaire surveys, and bibliometric analysis based on Scopus in conjunction with the VBN team at Aalborg University Library. A register-based analysis of AAU-based entrepreneurs by the AAU Business School is included in the analysis of AAU's entrepreneurial efforts.