Making Space for the Competition

Nancy Gross - Business Energy Editor

A couple of weeks ago I received an announcement that includes a term I had not heard before: intrapreneurship. Are you familiar with this concept? If not here are a couple of quotes to whet your palate:

“Research shows that securing ‘space for play and creativity’ is a key component in a leadership approach that nurtures innovation capacity…Leadership would be wise to build on this.” – Daniel Hjorth, Professor at Copenhagen Business School

“Having access to resources and mentors while being able to maneuver freely was the perfect environment for me to grow my projects.” – Abdalla Al-Ayrot

The news item came from a company called Blue Energy. Since there are a number of companies with that name, I checked with the sender to find out if there was any affiliation among them, but learned that this Blue Energy is a Danish company.

We are the first utility company to offer unlimited usage for a fixed price. We are a 100% green company. All of our electricity is produced by Danish solar and wind power plants. Blue Energy focuses on being the most innovative utility company. This is why we are focusing on intrapreneurship and talent within our organization. The company website is It is not yet in English as we are only operating in Denmark.

I thought of a marvelous episode of Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, where he visited Copenhagen. Bourdain had this to say:

I do not, by temperament or inclination, gravitate towards Scandinavian countries. I am intimidated and made uncomfortable by safe, clean, orderly places where everything works and people seem creepily content…. So, it comes as something of a surprise that what we came back with after a week shooting in Copenhagen—in what is said to be the ‘happiest country on earth’—is perhaps the finest, most technically accomplished, best looking hour of television we’ve ever made….

It’s a show centered around one restaurant, NOMA, and one chef, Rene Redzepi…. NOMA is said to be ‘the best restaurant in the world’ and they are famous for, among other things, sourcing almost all their ingredients from the forests, fields, farms, beaches and marshes of the area immediately around Copenhagen. They have pioneered the notion of ‘foraging’ and taken it to an extreme that would be damn easy to mock, if the results weren’t so genuinely brilliant and delicious.

I liked that episode; it just made me feel good. Wild foods, yet a tame, storybook setting and approach to life. Maybe Denmark is good at taking hold of the intersection of unruliness and structure. The concept of intrapreneurship seems to fall there. I’ll share some of the news release below, so you can learn along with me what intrapreneurship is. The concept sounds like an interesting win-win, and who wouldn’t want to be part of an event at a glass villa by the sea…

Blue Energy executives are inviting students to lead their next intrapreneurship project in a thousand-square meter glass villa on the Swedish peninsula, Saro.

Untapped talent– Recent years have proven that students are able to grow successful startups and compete with conventional businesses form their ‘garage.’ This proves that there is a lot of untapped talent among today’s elite students. Furthermore, it also questions the abilities of larger corporations to acquire and facilitate the shapes and sizes of today’s talents.

We are seeing a lot more talent among young students due to the massive flow of free information available on the Internet. These students have learned to acquire new knowledge at a rapid pace, and this massive amount of knowledge allows them to make decisions more independently. This is a crucial advantage for any company that works in an ever-changing industry.

Entrepreneurship vs. Intrapreneurship– Blue Energy wants to connect with these students early on and provide them with an environment where their projects and ideas can flourish within Blue Energy. Thus allowing talents and entrepreneurial mindsets to try out the intrapreneurial environment with the resources and possibilities it can provide in contrast to entrepreneurship.

Businesses should empower young talent and focus on their abilities to innovate. We are seeing too much talent being lost in standardized internships and trainee courses. Students are discarding the option of building their ideas within established businesses.

The future skill for conventional business is not to compete with entrepreneurs. It is to empower and work together with them to create a stronger competitive advantage for both parties.

Blue Energy has previously been the facilitator of intrapreneurship. Last year, the entire sales education division of Blue Energy was created due to Blue Energy’s willingness to put it in the hands of a young talent.

Lastly, some of you may be interested in a Forester University Master Class (one of a five-part series) “Green Infrastructure, Where, When and How to Incorporate it.” Do you know your green infrastructure? Join Jeffrey Bruce for the second session in our Post-Construction Stormwater BMPs Master Class Series exploring green infrastructure approaches and solutions (e.g., rain gardens, urban forests, bioswales, constructed wetlands, green roofs, green walls, permeable paving, water harvesting, etc.); key elements and design considerations; implementation best practices; results and benefits; and how you can cost-effectively integrate green infrastructure at your site.BE_bug_web


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