Denmark - Week 2

This week has been mostly administrative. I finally have a lease, which was prerequisite for banking, health coverage, and obtaining idenity cards. I also had my first contact with the RoboHub and received some positive signals.

On Tuesday I went down to Cortex Park where Odense Robotics is based and received a thorough orientation. The region of 250,000 people has some pretty impressive statistics: 120 robotics companies, 500 supporting companies, 8 figure exits. I still need to apply to the incubators, but the next application window is September and I received some pretty positive hints. First, I learned that there are actually three separate incubators, one for robotics, one for drones, and one for maritime. Since I could technically fit into any of those, I was told the intake quotas could be juggled in my favour. Secondly, I've been slipped into the Odense Investor Summit which will put me in front of local and European investors.

We also discussed available grants. As an open trade block, the Eurozone has rules preventing governments from subsidising local industry. However, there is a de minimis rule allowing companies to receive up to €200,000 in state support. Not coincidentally, there is an InnoBooster fund with simplified rules for grants up to this ammount. The basic rule is that they will fund 33% of a project, but the accounting rules let you bill an unpaid founder at (conveniently) €200,000 per year as payment in kind. For a two cofounder startup, this is basically free money. In my case, I will need to get a little creative, likely by billing myself out over 18 months and raising €100,000 to match the rest of the grant. The incubator also provides advisors and free office space in a package worth around €80,000.

Back to the administrative side, on Monday I signed a 6 month sub-lease after a little drama. It happened that both rooms in the appartment were changing over at the same time, one permanently and one temperarily during a doctural exchange program. Danish rental law provides very strong protections for long term tenants, but there is no provision for wear and tear and any "deposit" is essentialy forfeit. For short term tenants, rather than losing the deposit it is common to take over an existing lease, but there are horror stories where the new tenant was exposed to the liabilites of the old. A new tenant was found for the sub-leased room and I was to take over the other room on the actual lease, but the sub-leasee bailed. Both the exchange student and I were under time pressure, so we went ahead with a sub-lease on his room. In hindsight this has worked out well, as I have a fully furnished room and wont lose my deposit.

The City of Odense has a special International Citizens Service center, which like the rest of Denmark seems to be on holiday for the summer. Luckly the usual Citizens Service was able to process me, and I'm now set up with health insurance and NemID. NemID is a national digital identity system which is used for online interactions with the government and banks, with a 2FA system using either codes sent via snail-mail or a phone app. While not yet mandatory, it is also possible to link a NemID to a public certificate for cryptographically signing digital documents. For banking, SydBank was recommended to me, but even when applying in person the paperwork is sent via DigitalPost, which is again linked to NemID. I won't be able to complete the process until my first codes arrive in the mail. Getting a phone number turned out to be tricky, seemingly because it is a conduit for credit card fraud. Various carriers asked for a European passport or 3 months of Danish pay stubs. Telia finally gave me a phone number, but it is also the most expensive option.

This week I'm hoping to crack open the robot and start writing code again. There are also preparations for the Investor Summit and the RoboHub is helping me with another iteration for the pitch deck.