About Startup Denmark
What is Startup Denmark?
Startup Denmark is a visa scheme launched by the Danish Government to allow talented entrepreneurs to relocate and grow high-impact start-ups in Denmark.
You apply on the basis of your business plan, which is evaluated by an independent expert panel. If the panel approves your business plan, you are eligible to apply for a residence and work permit as a self-employed entrepreneur. The permit is granted for a period of up to two years with the possibility of extension for three years at a time.
Who can apply?
Startup Denmark is for self-employed persons, and only non-EU (European Union) and non-EEA (European Economic Area) citizens can apply.
Up to three non-EU, non-EEA citizens can submit a business plan as a team. If the business plan is approved by the Startup Denmark expert panel the applicants must apply individually for a residence and work permit from the immigration authorities.
A non-EU, non-EEA citizen can submit a business plan together with EU/EEA citizens. However, EU/EEA citizens do not need residence and work permits for Denmark due to the EU rules on free movement of persons and services.
If you’re an EU/EEA citizen, you can find more information about setting up a business in Denmark here.
What types of businesses are eligible?
Startup Denmark is for innovative and scalable businesses with a clear growth potential. This means that businesses such as restaurants, retail shops and import/export enterprises will generally be rejected and thus not presented to the Startup Denmark expert panel.
Do I need prior investment to apply?
No prior investment in your startup is required in order to apply.
However, if your business plan is approved by the Startup Denmark expert panel, and if you submit your application for a residence and work permit, you must provide documentary evidence that you can support yourself financially for at least one year in Denmark.
If your family is accompanying you to Denmark, you must also provide documentation of your ability to support them.
You can read more about the amounts required and necessary documentation here.
Does Startup Denmark provide financing?
No. Startup Denmark only provides work and residence permits for accepted applicants. Entrepreneurs are themselves responsible for raising all required capital.
Getting your business plan approved
How is my business plan evaluated?
The business plans are assessed by a minimum of three members of Startup Denmark’s independent expert panel. Assessments are based on scores from 1 to 5 given in relation to five evaluation criteria. In order to obtain approval, you need both a minimum average score of 3.0 for all five criteria and a score of at least 4.0 in the final recommendation criteria.
The criteria are defined as follows:
1. How innovative is the business model?
The expert panel is looking for fundamentally smart business models that seize an opportunity and accelerate the development of a new market or industry. Applications are evaluated in terms of their level of innovation and introduction of new products, services or processes within their field.
2. How attractive is the market?
When evaluating the attractiveness of a market, the expert panel focuses on market size, commercial potential and barriers to entry. Additionally, the panel evaluates the level of competition in the market and how applicants plan to enter and address the market.
3. How capable is the applicant or team?
Not only must applicants come up with a great business model, but they must also be capable of building a successful business in practice. The expert panel therefore assesses whether applicants have the skills, competences and experiences needed to turn their business plan into a viable venture.
4. How scalable is the business model?
The expert panel evaluates the startup for its potential to grow and create jobs in Denmark. It should therefore be demonstrated that the business model is scalable – i.e. that it has the potential to grow significantly.
5. Overall assessment
Startup Denmark aims to attract growth-oriented, innovative and scalable startups that bring ideas, networks and knowledge to Denmark. Consequently, the expert panel estimates the degree to which startups contribute to this goal. The recommendation score sums up the panel’s assessment of the first four criteria taken as a whole. It is thus an expression of the panel’s overall perception of the quality of the business plan and the applicant(s) behind it.
What happens to my application once I have applied?
Initially, all applications will be screened by the Startup Denmark Secretariat at the Danish Business Authority to make sure they meet the requirements for being evaluated by the expert panel.
Typical reasons for an application to be screened out include: The applicant is an EU citizen, the application is not submitted in English, the business model does not have potential for growth (as a general rule, businesses such as restaurants, retail stores, smaller trade, import and export businesses are screened out), or the information provided is not sufficiently clear and/or credible. Lastly, applications will also be screened out if the attached pitch deck is too comprehensive. For attached word files the maximum length is 10 pages, while the maximum length of PowerPoint and image files is 15 pages.
Applicants will be notified if their application is screened out. It is not possible to appeal if your application is screened out.
If the application is not screened out it will be forwarded to the expert panel for evaluation.
How long does the regular application process take?
Our goal is for your business plan to be evaluated by the Startup Denmark expert panel within six weeks of submission. However, longer processing times may occur especially during and after summer holidays and Christmas holiday, where the expert panel does not evaluate business plans.
You will be told the outcome of the panel’s evaluation by the Startup Denmark Secretariat.
If your evaluation is positive, you can apply for a residence and work permit under the Startup Denmark scheme at the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration. The agency usually considers applications within one month of submission.
What is the expert panel?
The Startup Denmark expert panel evaluates your business plan. It is staffed by experienced and independent business consultants.
Will I be notified if my application is rejected?
Yes. All applicants are notified about the outcome of the evaluation of their business plan. In most cases, you’re notified within six weeks of submission.
What happens if my application is rejected?
If your application is rejected by the Startup Denmark expert panel, you can apply again with a new or improved business plan. The business plan must be substantially improved or different from the original in order to be evaluated again.
Can I appeal about the result?
Yes. It is possible to appeal against the evaluation by the expert panel to the Danish Business Authority. Appeals are assessed by a minimum of three members of the expert panel with no previous insight into your original application. Instructions for filing an appeal can be found in rejection emails from the Startup Denmark Secretariat.
Note that this is not an option if your business plan is screened out before evaluation.
Can I submit my application in my own language?
Only applications submitted in English will be accepted for evaluation. Applications in any other language will be screened out before evaluation by the expert panel.
Applying for a residence and work permit
When do I apply for a residence and work permit?
First you need to get your business plan approved. If the evaluation of your business plan by the Startup Denmark expert panel is positive, you can apply for a residence and work permit under the Startup Denmark scheme at the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration. The agency usually considers applications within one month of submission.
What are the requirements when applying for a residence and work permit?
You must meet certain conditions to be granted a residence and work permit.
It is a condition that you play an active part in running the business, and your presence must be necessary for the establishment of the business. If you have only economic or financial interests in the business – for example, if you are a shareholder – you cannot be granted a permit based on the Startup Denmark scheme.
The self-support requirement
You must be able to support yourself. This means you must provide documentary evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover your first year in Denmark. If your family is accompanying you to Denmark, you must also provide documentation of your ability to support them.
You must provide documentation that you have (2020 level):
- 138,648 DKK if you are in Denmark without any family
- 277,296 DKK if your spouse is accompanying you to Denmark
- 322,908 DKK if your spouse and one or more children are accompanying you to Denmark
- 184,260 DKK if one or more children, but not your spouse, are accompanying you to Denmark
Documentation of your ability to support yourself and any accompanying family members could for instance be in the form of a bank statement.
Launching your business in Denmark
Will you help me launch my startup?
Several public initiatives exist to help you grow your startup in Denmark. To begin with, you are advised to contact the local Business Development Centre.
Denmark’s Business Development Centres are your gateway to both public and private business development initiatives. There are 6 publicly funded Business Development Centres at 12 different locations around Denmark. At your local centre, you can get free, independent and professional guidance – targeted to fit the needs and potential of your business. The centres specialise in business operations and development. Among many other things, they can offer guidance on loans, venture capital and other funding sources.
How do I set up my business in Denmark?
In most cases, setting up a business in Denmark is easy. However, if you have trouble finding your way through the system, you are always welcome to contact the Danish Business Authority’s Customer Centre on +45 72 20 00 30.
Before you register your business, you should apply for a NemID secure login. You should then determine what business type you want to establish and apply for a CVR number via the digital solution, “Start company” at Virk.dk. The CVR number is your business’s official registration number, and it is, among other things, used to identify your business with public authorities and when issuing invoices.
Note that you should be fully approved by Startup Denmark before you launch and start working with your business in Denmark. You are fully approved when you have been granted a Danish residence and work permit by the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration. The residence and work permit contains a Danish CPR number (personal registration number), which you need in order to register a business in Denmark.
What are the opportunities for funding in Denmark?
There are many opportunities in Denmark to apply for both public and private funding. You are advised to contact a Business Development Centre to learn more about the funding that is best suited to your startup. Below are two examples of public funding opportunities.
The Danish Growth Fund
The Danish Growth Fund (“Vækstfonden”) is the Danish state’s investment fund aimed at promoting the creation and growth of new companies through investments, loans and guarantees. The fund invests equity in start-ups that have significant growth potential yet have trouble raising sufficient venture capital. You may be eligible to apply for one of the fund’s programmes.
Innovation Fund Denmark
The Innovation Fund Denmark (“Innovationsfonden”) invests in new initiatives to create growth and employment in Denmark. You may be eligible to apply for one of the fund’s programmes.
Extending your approval
When do I need to extend my approval?
You can apply for an extension to your residence and work permit if the validity period of your current permit is about to expire. You can apply for an extension no earlier than three months before your permit expires. An extension can be granted for up to three years at a time.
Please note that it is your own responsibility to apply for an extension in due course. You must submit your application for an extension to the Danish Agency for International Recruitment before the expiry date of your current residence and work permit, even if the expert panel has not yet finalised its evaluation of your progress report.
How to apply for extension
To apply for an extension, you must submit a progress report describing the development of your startup. The progress of the company must be approved before you can be granted an extension. There are four steps:
- Download a form for your progress report.
- Write your progress report.
Fill out the form to provide an overview of the progress of your startup.
- Submit your progress report.
The report is evaluated by a representative of the expert panel according to the principles described below.
Our goal is to notify you about the outcome within four weeks of submission.
Send the progress report and relevant documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Apply for extension.
If the progress of the company is approved by the expert panel, you are entitled to apply for an extension of your residence and work permit at the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration.
How long does the extension application process take?
Our goal is for your progress report to be evaluated by a representative of the Startup Denmark expert panel within four weeks of submission. You will be told the outcome of the evaluation by the Startup Denmark Secretariat.
If your evaluation is positive, you can apply directly for an extension of your work and residence and work permit under the Startup Denmark scheme at the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration. The agency usually considers applications for extension within three months of submission.
Please note that you must submit your application for an extension to the Danish Agency for International Recruitment before the expiry date of your current residence and work permit, even if the expert panel has not yet finalised its evaluation of your progress report.
What is the extension interview?
If the expert panel representative finds that your progress report is unclear, you will be summoned for an interview with the representative.
Interviews are generally scheduled for 45 minutes. During the first 15 minutes, you are asked to present your case and the status of your startup. In the remaining 30 minutes, you are interviewed about the progress of your company.
The interview will be conducted by the expert panel representative who is responsible for the assessment of your progress report. A government official representing the Startup Denmark Secretariat will attend as an observer. The interview will be recorded and logged.
After the interview, you will be notified in writing about the outcome of the interview (approval or rejection).
You will receive further information about the process and practicalities if you are called for an interview.
What happens if the progress of my business is approved?
If your progress report is approved by a Startup Denmark expert panel, you receive an approval letter from the Startup Denmark Secretariat.
The letter entitles you to apply for an extension of your residence and work permit as a self-employed entrepreneur under the Startup Denmark scheme at the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration.
This means that the approval of the progress does not in itself constitute an extension. The approval is a precondition for applying for an extension of your residence and work permit at the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration.
What happens if the progress of my business is rejected?
It is possible to appeal against the rejection of your progress report to the Danish Business Authority. A representative of the Startup Denmark expert panel, who was not involved in the original evaluation of your progress report, will be selected to reassess your case.
You will receive instructions on how to file an appeal if your progress report is rejected.