‘We need to be more efficient in connecting ecosystems’ – Q&A with Michael Johansen

A quick Q&A with Michael Johansen, Head of Business Development at CLEAN 

What do you think the cities of the future will look like?

Michael Johansen

Cities of the future will be more clean, green and sustainable – and first and foremost more liveable. Citizens will experience this directly due to cleaner air, fewer cars and more efficient public transportation (including bikes), more green and blue spaces, smart solutions that increase connectivity and much more.

Underneath all of this lies a lot of sophisticated infrastructure and systems, technologies and solutions that are not necessarily experienced “directly” by the citizens. Green spaces will also be capable of collecting, storing and reusing rainwater. The air quality is closely monitored and managed via IoT solutions. The products we consume and the waste we generate will increasingly be based on a circular economy. And the water and energy we consume will be produced in a much more sustainable way.

I think more cities will adopt “liveability” as the most important vision, and carbon neutrality, circular economy and the energy transition are important drivers to increase this liveability.

What 2-3 books / articles / podcasts would you recommend?

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek is a classic and a great read for every entrepreneur and change maker.

I enjoy the podcasts Iværksætterhistorier and Sæt i gang (both Danish) with personal stories from entrepreneurs.

Where’s the best place for new ideas?

Clusters have a lot to offer in terms of new knowledge and inspirations, but more importantly to connect with peers and potential partners in new projects. I always encourage startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get involved in the relevant clusters. It’s a low-cost and very efficient way to boost innovation.

Who inspires you?

Entrepreneurs with new ideas and innovations with a view to deploy at large scale are my heroes. I’m fortunate to meet many innovative companies, and it’s truly inspirational to support their efforts and see them succeed.

I take a lot of inspiration from international cluster peers, stealing the best ideas from others and sharing what works for us.

What are the skills we’ll need in 10 years?

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills, digital ninjas, engineers etc. will be in high demand.

But from a cluster perspective, we need to be much more efficient in connecting ecosystems internationally, deploying the best solutions at scale and with great speed. This requires digital platforms that connect the right people locally and globally, efficient collaboration models and processes that work in practice. All of this requires partnerships, and a “get it done” approach which we try to enforce and enact every way possible.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Keep doing what you do 🙂

What is your call to action?

Clusters are vey much like start-ups: small, agile entities that constantly have to prove themselves and make impact with limited resources available. Having built a cluster organization from scratch, testing out multiple innovation platforms locally and internationally, I know for a fact that we can make a huge difference both locally in our ecosystem, but also on a global scale with the tools we have at hand.

So, my call to action is to keep pushing the limits of “what’s possible” and combine the strategic approach with a very practical one – there is so much to be done, and the ones who can provide the very practical solutions that can be scaled will succeed.


Connect with Michael on LinkedIn