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Aarhus

With a population of 315,000, the city of Aarhus on the northeast coast is Denmark’s second-largest city and the fastest growing in the country. Its population is younger and better educated than the national average, and almost 15% are immigrants. In the past 10 years, the city has expanded by 15,000 people. In the same period 20,000 jobs were created, the majority within the knowledge, service and innovation industries. The presence of a strong university with more than 40,000 students makes Aarhus a driver for growth for the entire region. The economy also depends on agricultural products from the wider region. The city’s harbour, one of the largest in Northern Europe, is still predominantly industrial, and its container port is the biggest in Denmark, mainly exporting grain.

The city was founded as a Viking settlement on the northern shores of a fjord at a natural coastal harbour and the primary driver of growth was for centuries seaborne trade in agricultural products. Today Aarhus is at the cultural and economic core of the region and is the largest centre for trade, services and industry in Jutland. Aarhus is an important city: it is among the top 100 conference cities in the world; it is the principal industrial port of the country in terms of container handling; it is a centre for research and education in the Nordic countries and home to Aarhus University, Scandinavia's largest university. It is, thus, not a surprise that major Danish companies have based their headquarters here. No doubt, being a strong university city makes Aarhus a good place to try collaboration. Indeed, Aarhus is a very interesting city, where numerous things are happening. On top of that, Aarhus is a smart city: digital technology is both a challenge and an opportunity to develop the city of the future. Smart Aarhus is a new mind-set developed in order to create sustainable urban innovation and growth, a model based on involving stakeholders through partnerships. The fact that Aarhus has been appointed as European Capital of Culture in 2017 makes the city an extraordinary case within the CHANGE! network, because culture is a strong tool to strengthen collaboration. The key concept in Aarhus is re-think, because the complexity of the challenges we are all facing calls for new approaches. Let’s Rethink is much more than a theme – it is a mind-set for change, innovation and courage, a progressive way of thinking and acting smarter. With the aim of creating sustainable solutions, Aarhus will search for new practices, new ways of forming partnerships, new business models and new concepts of growth. Aarhus faces a number of challenges in the coming years. The welfare state is being challenged by demographic changes and tight financial constraints. To maintain and develop a social, economic and sustainable welfare society requires that we rethink the way we collaborate in Aarhus. We must create prosperity in collaboration with the citizens. So the question is how to engage citizens in the different spheres of public administration through a new citizenship policy, how to work with people and not for them?. It is also a challenge how to embed the great community power into public services to make them more efficient through collaboration.

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