Sustainability creates increased turnover

The SME Sustainability Project
The SME Sustainability Project will help small and medium-sized companies become more sustainable.
New research project will strengthen Danish businesses for the benefit of competitiveness and the environment. 

How do companies in Denmark work with sustainability? And which knowledge and skills are necessary to become better? These are just some of the questions the project Sustainability of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) will attempt to answer. 

Create knowledge and concrete tools 

The project runs in 3 tracks: collecting knowledge of SMEs’ work with sustainable business development; helping 40 businesses through a process of working with sustainability to create growth; dissiminating the results to 20,000+ Danish businesses. 

The goal is to help the many small and medium-sized enterprises in Denmark increase their bottom line by becoming more sustainable. The potential is huge as businesses with fewer than 250 employees and less than 50 million DKK in annual turnover make up 99 percent of businesses in the country. Yet until now sustainability has primarily been the focus of larger enterprises. 

’Sustainability of SMEs' is a collaboration between the Danish Industry Foundation, VIA University College and Industrial Cooperation between Industry Employers Copenhagen (IAK) and the Manufacturing Industry, which is a part of both the Danish Industry and Green Network organisations. 

Improved bottom line 

Trine Mønsted Nielsen, associate lecturer at VIA and project manager, says that businesses dedicated to sustainability show better results, both home and abroad – economically, socially and environmentally. 

"Experience shows that businesses that focus on sustainability can strengthen their competitiveness, gain more clout in the global market and achieve a better bottom line. Initially, the new project will help the 40 involved businesses with this. Later, all the other SMEs in Denmark will benefit from the knowledge that is being created in the project," says Trine Mønsted Nielsen, who is affiliated to the research and development centre VIA Business Globalisation. 

Kenneth Hald Jensen, administrative director in Green Network, is looking forward to getting new knowledge on sustainability. 

"I believe, businesses will prioritise sustainability if they see that it creates value. Therefore, I hope the project will offer simple, pragmatic and productive tools that are easy for businesses to implement," he says. 

An important step from version 2.0 to 3.0 

Branch director Ole Storm Jeppesen from the Industrial Cooperation between Industry Employers Copenhagen (IAK) and the Manufacturing Industry says it can be difficult for businesses to get started on working with sustainability. 

"For many businesses there are challenges in moving from working with energy optimisation to adapting a decidedly more sustainable production. With this project they get a unique opportunity to be lifted from version 2.0 to 3.0 in sustainability," he says. 

New knowledge is crucial 

According to project manager Trine Mønsted Nielsen, SMVs differ from larger companies in their work with sustainability. But the knowledge about how is lacking. 

"Most research on the subject has been conducted among larger multinationals. With this project we will create more knowledge of how SMEs can be successful and create growth," she says.

Project facts 

  • The SMEs Sustainability Project is a collaboration between the Danish Industry Foundation, VIA University College and Industrial Cooperation between Industry Employers Copenhagen (IAK) and the Manufacturing Industry – part of the Danish Industry and Green Network 
  • The Danish Industry Foundation has granted 980,000 DKK to the project
  • The project will run from February 2015 for a year and a half

About SMEs 

  • SMEs are defined as businesses with less than 250 employees and less than 50 million DKK in annual turnover 
  • Small and medium enterprises make up 99 percent of the businesses in Denmark and employ 60 percent of private sector employees in the country. 

For more information, please contact: 

Trine Mønsted Nielsen
lecturer and project manager at VIA University College
T: +45 87 55 44 13 
E: trni@via.dk 

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