It was an old dream that came true...
Since 2005 when Jørgen Mads Clausen opened the park under the name ‘Danfoss Universe’, with the support of his wife Annette Clausen, he has not only been the park’s founder but one of the primary driving forces behind Universe. The park also receives financial support from the Bitten and Mads Clausen Foundation (also known as the Danfoss Foundation). The dream was (and continues to be) to help the new generation derive pleasure from nature and technology and inspire more people to become entrepreneurs.
“The problem today is that people are not interested in nature and technology, because they cannot see how things work,” says Jørgen Mads Clausen.
“It was completely different in my childhood. I could take apart an alarm clock to see its mechanism and how it got the clock to make regular movements. Looking inside was a real experience, and when I figured out how it worked, I thought ‘wow’ and was able to remember. But who knows how a discman works? Very few people because you can’t take one apart, or if you do then it will be broken – and inside there are just several black bits which don’t help you find out how it works anyway.”
“I truly believe that it is a real problem to not be able to see how technology works. As a result, fewer people are being trained as engineers. The park was therefore devised as a place where technology could be illustrated. We have to give young people lots of ‘aha’ and ‘wow’ experiences as these are the best way to learn. We all know that ‘wow’ feeling when you can suddenly understand something or do something new. It sticks with you and shapes the rest of your life. Maybe you will feel like taking natural sciences further – or perhaps you will invent something yourself and start your own business in a few years”.
“No, it is for everybody. It is not an amusement park, but it must be interesting, so has to be fun. We have emphasised that it is hands-on and does not need you to read signs with lots of explanations. We know that young people do not want to stand around reading signs. They want to run about and try one thing after another. It is not a systematic form of education and there is none of the drudgery of school. The idea is to whet their appetite and hopefully inspire them to experiment further at home or school.”
“We also make a systematic effort to get school classes to visit us. We offer a school programme where classes can solve particular problems while in the park. There are also things that they can prepare before they get here and projects they can complete afterwards.”
“Apart from giving young people the ‘aha’ and ‘wow’ experiences, it should lead to development in the surrounding area. It is part of the tourist effort in Southern Jutland. We would like it to be a business, and it should have some knock-on effects in the local area, for example, accommodation providers should be able to earn money from the visitors. It should also help the Danfoss brand. Not only through displaying logos in the park, but also by showing that we think about creating an interest in natural science. I don't know of any other industrial companies in the world that are doing this.”
“We all want a welfare state, but this is based on the fact that we have a thriving industry that creates the background for this. And this demands that we are able to survive globalisation. Our products need lots of science input and we need more technologists. By this I mean engineers and natural scientists who can develop new products that we can use and survive on. If not enough engineers are being educated, this could go the wrong way. We cannot live without high technology – our society is based on this.”
“To date, we have not been able to clearly illustrate how a business starts up. In the park, you can see how my dad started out. It is my father’s place of birth and the place of birth of Danfoss. You can see his office, which was his childhood bedroom, and the large factories outside the park. This was started from nothing, by a man with almost no money in his pocket – and this can easily be done again! It is this inspiration that we want to give to the park.”
“In the longer term, we have plans for a ‘fab lab’ where you will be able to design something on a computer and print it out. But not on paper... as a three dimensional plastic figure. The data will be sent to a 3D printer. This uses liquid plastic which is set using beams of light to build up a figure from layers of solid plastic. This is called ‘rapid prototyping’. It takes about an hour to print a figure, but this is much faster than if you had to cut it by hand. Our vision is for young people who have an idea to be able to design it on the computer and make the product here and now. They will then have a prototype that they can try and sell – and if this is successful, they can take the next step and produce it more effectively.
“Generally, we are very concerned with finding the best and most effective ways for people to learn and remember things for many years. It is about creativity. Learning should also involve several senses, for example, the fab lab, working on the computer and healthy physical things, reading information and seeing things on videos. All in all, we try to create a more intensive learning process.
“At one point, we worked out that we could double our visitor numbers if we situated the park in Kliplev, by the E45 motorway, and that was interesting to consider. But there is only one place where Danfoss was started, and that is here. If you built a copy of my father’s office in Kliplev, it would not be the same. We have heard from other museums that copies do not have the same attraction as the real deal. So it is very important that we stay here.”