Innovating Onboarding in Danish SMEs of International Specialists

Aim of Onboard Denmark- ODIS

Innovating onboarding for international specialists in Danish SMEs (the ODIS project) is a three-year initiative (2021-2023) focused on facilitating Small- to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to recruit and retain international talent in their companies. The project extends the nationwide project Talent to Denmark (TDK ) which is funded by the Danish Board of Business Development, in critical ways. ODIS consists of developing and disseminating a business case with new tools to help SMEs recruit, retain, and ensure the full potential of international specialists can be achieved.

ODIS has assembled a team of professionals with different disciplinary backgrounds and professional expertise who, by drawing on new empirical research and conceptual insights, will drive forward the innovations needed to have a lasting impact.

Six partner organizations are leading the project: the University of Copenhagen is the project lead; Copenhagen Capacity; The Coaching Room; TalentED; DI and Business Region Aarhus.

Closing the Skill Gap in Denmark

International talent is crucial for economic growth, innovation initiatives, internationalization, market exploration, and export growth. Currently, Large Enterprises in Denmark account for 1% of the total companies in Denmark but hire most of the Internationals recruited in Denmark. Meanwhile SMEs are struggling when it comes to hiring internationals. This is often due to their lack the knowledge, experience and sometimes motivation to recruit international talent to fill in their skill gaps. Yet, the international networks, diverse cultural mindsets and specialist knowledge/skills international professionals bring into a company, meanwhile SMEs are missing out on untapped international market opportunities and the opportunity to boost innovation.

Onboarding beyond HR

Comprehensive and careful onboarding of international recruits is an essential step to assuring their insertion into the company, and that they deliver on their potential.

While larger corporations have HR professionals with expertise in recruiting and onboarding international talent, SMEs often do not. Critically, though, to facilitate recruitment of international specialists in SME is much more than an HR issue. Often the strategic priorities and culture of an SME will have a significant impact on whether and how international specialists are recruited and become onboarded. The initiatives that ‘work’ in large corporations will not necessary be relevant for SMEs. Therefore, new tools and approaches that will facilitate ‘onboarding’ need to be developed, tested and further adapted to ensure their usability for SMEs across Denmark. This is what ODIS will do.

Copenhagen Capacity: Creating a valuable contribution to Denmark’s economic growth.

ODIS is composed of 5 work packages (WPs). The project structure adheres to the Double Diamond principle (UK Design Council, 2019), and all project partners are involved in each WP, to ensure ODIS benefits from multi-disciplinary innovation.

Copenhagen Capacity leads work packages (WP’s) 4 and 5 but are involved across all work packages. Copenhagen Capacity's focus is on marketing, SME recruitment, consulting support and focus on the continuous implementation of onboarding across Denmark.

ODIS-Work packages



Funded by

Innovation Foundation