New CSR opportunity for innovation and knowledge-leaders in Denmark: Specialekontoret

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Specialekontor_dkToday Nanna and Marta launched the Specialekontor-website. It’s the first public annoncement of an ambitious socially responsible project we’ve been working on during mid-2006. This year we are aiming to make it become a reality!

About a year ago our sociologist Katja had finished her dissertation from Copenhagen University and during the last four months she rented space in a small commune of students that had the same problem as Katja: They couldn’t concentrate at home and needed a space they could go to every day to work on their master-thesis. With few exceptions, most university students working on their final thesis has the same challenges. They are supposed to make a grand finale but can’t make it happen within the space and time that they are given. And the spaces at their respective campus facilities are too few and not administered in a way that makes it possible to gain access (we’ve done extensive research last year and only 7-10% of the need for these type of spaces are covered by universities, public libraries etc.).

So Katja and I discussed the issue and thought to ourselves “why not make the worlds best space for research and help the students get to collaborate, share ideas, work more focused and feel that they are part of a working student-community rather than sitting home alone?”.

At the same time lots of companies we know (and even more that we don’t know) are trying to think of ways to make their worth in other terms than money. Helping others, for instance. Taking responsibility for the society in which we live. Taking care of the world around them. And some of these companies are even giving this issue more thought than just sending money to Africa (not that I think that’s a bad idea – I just think they should fit it into their business model instead of writing a check).

So, we’ve wound up inventing this great project. It’s a pilot project that’s going to exist for three years and host 200 students per semester (the danish government has decided that regular master-thesis (kandidat-afhandlinger) has to be written within six months), giving a total of 1.200 students the best possible environment for their research and writing process. What’s more is, the project will aim at testing and developing the best possible model for hosting this type of activity giving the universities a unique possibility of redesigning their future projects to suit this need and not having to guess what works and what doesn’t. And what’s really great is we’re going to facilitate that the students, leading designers and architects will collaborate on the making of the best possible environment for research together with practitioners from leading innovative, knowledge-based companies. The same companies that will help make the project possible and who will gain an easier access to new research from the universities through their meetings with students in this new project.

Sofar a couple of supporters and sponsors have decided to drive the project further. Among others FUHU, DEA, Dansk Erhverv, Novozymes and of course the students from a bunch of organizations like DSF.