Annual report 2021

In 2021, we at the Bikuben Foundation used our knowledge, competencies and networks to support our role as an active development partner in both new and existing collaborative partnerships. In addition, we worked to put young people on the edge and the visual and performing arts on the political agenda.
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At the Bikuben Foundation, we work to create opportunities for young people on the edge and to assist professional artists and art institutions in taking new paths and realising their potential. In recent years, we have increasingly worked towards a more active role as a foundation in both of our focus areas by serving as a partner for organisations seeking to develop their activities.

As part of The Alliance, a Home for All, we have been working for the past five years in the field of social affairs to advocate for the integration of housing and social policy. That work bore fruit in 2021 as the government secured a majority for new housing legislation. We also continued our work to support young people removed from the home as they transition to adulthood through the My Way Home (Min Vej Hjem) innovation project and Policy Lab. In addition, we launched a strategic partnership that will provide input to the Reform Commission, a government panel that identifies areas that would benefit from reform. The point of our input is to ensure that the next generation of labour and educational reforms are crafted together with young people and in consultation with a diversity of stakeholders.

In the arts, we continued to use our Task Force course to promote better conditions for Danish performing and visual-arts institutions. We also developed a programme that will see us join with selected art institutions in long-term strategic partnerships. In addition, we expanded our work to strengthen the political dialogue and awareness of the significance of art through the film series Art Has the Stage (Kunsten har ordet), which involves meetings between political leaders and some of the creators of the artworks on display the seat of parliament at Christiansborg to talk about the significance of their specific work and art in general.

A large part of our activities in 2021 related to the purchase of a building at 29 Thoravej. During these activities, we explored how physical frameworks and a community of partners can best support our mission to create opportunities for social affairs and the arts.

The Bikuben Foundation’s new home
As part of our ambition of establishing a home for collaboration, development and innovation in social affairs and the arts, we sold 5 Otto Mønsteds Gade in the autumn of 2020. On 1 March 2021, we bought a disused building at 29 Thoravej, in Copenhagen’s Nordvest district. Nordvest has attracted new real estate projects and is popular among stakeholders in the arts and social affairs.

With the help of Arkitektforeningen, the association of Danish architects, we held a competition to renovate the building. The process involved selected young architects being put together with experienced contractors and engineers in three teams. Each had to bid on a project that was architecturally innovative, buildable, sustainable and did not exceed the project’s stated budget.

An architectural assessment committee reviewed the three teams’ proposals, and in the autumn, we selected a team consisting of Pihlmann Architects, the construction company Hoffmann A/S and consulting engineers ABC Rådgivende Ingeniører to be responsible for the renovation of Thoravej 29. Central to our choice of these firms was that they place a priority on creating a local landmark and value ​​sustainability. The guiding philosophy for the renovation is that the building must, to the extent possible, reuse itself.

In addition to working with the renovation of the physical framework, we have, in collaboration with the Danish Design Centre and the Nordic Development Corporation, worked to develop the foundation for a community at 29 Thoravej. The ambition is to create a place where we, together with stakeholders in the arts and social affairs, as well as other professionals, have a place to work, meet, share knowledge and collaborate to create opportunities for young people on the edge and current performing and visual arts. To date, Art Hub Copenhagen; The Alliance, a Home for All; and Skitse, an art store that we opened in 2019, have indicated they will relocate to 29 Thoravej. In order to better understand what is needed in our two focus areas, we invited existing and potential partners to take part in the development process by attending workshops. This is a process that continues in 2022.

At the end of 2021, we decided to take the first step towards establishing ourselves in Nordvest by terminating our lease on 5 Otto Mønsteds Gade and moving to a temporary facility in the Enigheden building at 39 Lygten, Nordvest. The move gives us the opportunity to become familiar with the part of the city that we will call home. The temporary location has the added benefit of placing us close to 29 Thoravej.

Close partnerships foster innovation and create value
In recent years, we have become a more active partner when taking part in development projects; we believe that this is the best way to create systemic change for young people on the edge and to stimulate the best possible development for artists and art institutions.

Playing an active role in development projects means extending the philanthropic tools and working methods we use beyond financial contributions. We act as a consultant and professional resource. We provide advice for structuring development processes, identifying opportunities and potential. We work with external experts to provide insights and our competencies, and we involve target groups with experience from lived lives. In addition, we facilitate meetings and workshops for our partners.

In both our focus areas, we see how collaborating closely can create value for our partners in several ways. We have learned that we can refine, hone and strengthen the innovative elements that our partners develop and use in their projects. That we, by being close to the process, can help identify opportunities for synergies between our partners and other relevant stakeholders. And, not least, that collaboration can increase the likelihood that our partners maintain a high level of ambition and strategic vision over an extended period. Their experiences thus become a study in organisational learning, professionalisation and new ways of working.

With the purchase of 29 Thoravej, we have a unique opportunity to plan how the foundation’s physical framework can be integrated into its philanthropic work. With almost 6,400 square metres spread over four storeys, the building presents us with countless possibilities. In the arts, for example, it will make it possible for us to set up the studios, workshops and performance stages that are necessary for promoting artistic development, and which are sorely needed in Denmark. In addition, in social affairs — as well as in the arts — we have the opportunity to provide facilities for development of new ideas and partnerships.

Creating strategic partnerships for art institutions
With the aim of strengthening selected performing and visual arts institutions, we continued work on the Task Force development course in 2021. We started the course in partnership with the Nordic Culture Fund in 2020 as a pilot project.

Task Force was originally launched as a reaction to patterns that both we and the Nordic Culture Fund were seeing: that the administrators of art institutions have great artistic ambitions and professionalism, but they often lack time and funding. As a result, the institutions focus primarily on survival, rather than strategic development. Our tailor-made Task Force courses seek to create the guidelines that, among other things, can further the artistic development of individual institutions and provide a long-term strategy and financial sustainability. In 2021, we completed the two pilot courses with the performing-arts institutions HAUT and Fix & Foxy and invited the two visual arts institutions ARIEL — Feminisms in the Aesthetic (ARIEL — Feminismer i det Æstetiske) and Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), the Danish national gallery. The main focus of the courses was the SMK Fridays after-hours series of events.

Our work with the Task Force has revealed a need to continue our strategic partnerships with some of the institutions if they are to attain the ambitions they identify for themselves through their participation in Task Force.

The longer-term development processes have proven to be a useful working method because they have the potential to strengthen the art institutions in the longer term. With this in mind, 2022 will see the establishment of Task Force and Strategic Partnerships as permanent programmes. Our partnership with Fix & Foxy continues in 2022, making it our first strategic partnership. By giving these programmes the significance that permanency conveys, we continue to make it possible for art institutions to innovate their organisation and activities and to realise their potential, and, in so doing, further our ambition of making Copenhagen an international centre for performing and visual arts.

By giving the Vision Exhibition Award (Udstillingsprisen Vision), we work to develop art institutions by providing them the space they need to produce innovative exhibitions whose focus is, first and foremost, on art. Each year, we invite museums, art galleries and other institutions that put on exhibitions to participate in the competition to create a visionary and contemporary idea for a visual-arts exhibition. The award allows us to look ahead and recognise a visionary proposal for the future, rather than a past success.

In 2021, three previous winners of the Vision Exhibition Award opened their exhibitions. Soil. Sickness. Society. was shown at Kunsthal Rønnebæksholm (the 2020 winner); Go Extreme was shown at Kunsthal Aarhus (2019); and Work it out! was shown at Aalborg’s KUNSTEN (2018). The last received enormous coverage by national and foreign news outlets thanks to visual artist Jens Haaning’s work Take the Money and Run. Copenhagen Contemporary won the 2021 Vision Exhibition Award for Yet, it Moves! We look forward to following its progress.

Art Hub Copenhagen — establishing an international artistic meeting point
We started Art Hub Copenhagen in 2018 with the vision of using it to better the visual-arts scene and the conditions for artistic development and production in Denmark,

The inspiration was a major study, initiated by the Bikuben Foundation, of how the visual arts are faring in Denmark. The goal of the study was to identify the challenges that visual arts in Denmark face, and what their potential is. Among the recommendations were the creation of a meeting point that could foster interdisciplinary collaboration. It also found that there was a need to strengthen international relations; Art Hub Copenhagen grew out of this. It was founded in 2018, and a board was then appointed. From 2019 to 2021, Art Hub Copenhagen received funding in the form of grants from the Bikuben Foundation amounting to DKK 26 million to be used towards the establishment and development of the institution.

Today, Art Hub Copenhagen is an independent association. Since 2019 — despite being shut down for several periods due to the pandemic — it has shown its potential as an experimental art institution that facilitates contact among artists and stakeholders and supports networking. During the first three years of its existence, Art Hub Copenhagen’s specific accomplishments included testing new formats, establishing new partnerships and holding a number of activities for artists and other stakeholders. On 1 June 2021, Jacob Fabricius and Lars Bang Larsen joined as a co-directors. Their goal is the continued development of the organisation into an international meeting point for artistic research, development and production. The co-directors are responsible for the continued consolidation of the organisation. This includes overseeing the move to 29 Thoravej. In 2021, we renewed our financial support to Art Hub Copenhagen until 2024 in the form of a DKK 29 million grant. We look forward to continuing to work with Art Hub Copenhagen to strengthen its position as an international artistic meeting point.

Art and its significance put on political agenda
In the arts, the past several years have seen us work to raise the level of political awareness of the arts and to engage local and national lawmakers in discussions about its significance. We believe this is necessary if we are to make it possible for artists and art institutions to realise their potential, as the decisions national and local lawmakers take determine the direction of development for artists and art institutions.

In the summer of 2021, we took a new step in the work of raising the level of the political conversation about the arts with the launch of the film series Art Has the Stage. The series consists of short films in that pairs nine political leaders with nine artists for individual conversations about the art that surrounds them at Christiansborg, the seat of parliament. The aim of the series was to raise awareness of the significance of art and to invite lawmakers to take part in the conversation about the value of being exposed to art. The film series was launched in connection with the 2021 Folkemøde (a major annual gathering of lawmakers, voters, non-governmental organisations and other interest groups) and featured the leaders of three political parties discussing the importance of a work of their choosing at the event’s main venue.

In 2021, we continued to work with selected local councils and the consultancy Seismonaut to understand the significance of art. This work was begun in 2020 with a study of the significance of the visual arts that we carried out in Odense, Aalborg and Vejle councils. Using a qualitative method, we investigated what it means for people to be exposed to visual art. The study showed that the visual arts can stimulate emotions, thoughts and creativity, enrich our lives and challenge our perception of the world.

In order to gain more data upon which to base our findings — as well as to introduce the method to more councils — we expanded the programme to Ishøj, Bornholm, Esbjerg, Aarhus, Holstebro and Viborg in 2021. At the same time, our work with the three original councils continued with a new study of the significance of the performing arts based on a similar qualitative method. Both studies were launched in the spring of 2022 and have seen us work with the individual councils to share the studies’ insights with the lawmakers who sit on their local culture committees and to help raise the level of the local and national conversation about the significance of art.

Our Charlottenborgs Kaffeklub initiative involves us working with Kunsthal Charlottenborg to discuss art with lawmakers involved with culture policy. A coffee club whose meetings bring together lawmakers and the art community, the Charlottenborgs Kaffeklub affords participants the opportunity to have an open and constructive conversation about their visions for culture policy and people’s awareness of the arts. In 2021, we held two coffee-club meetings. Our spring meeting focused on art in the media and what artists have to tell us; the autumn meeting was held during council elections, and we used it as an opportunity to discuss the future of culture policy at the local level. We look forward to holding more coffee-club meetings with Kunsthal Charlottenborg in 2022.

Kunstsalon Vision: sharing knowledge and creating dialogue in an artistic environment
Our work with the arts entails facilitating knowledge-sharing and dialogue. The primary way we do this is through Kunstsalon Vision. Audiences participating in these art salons experience classic debates, interviews with artists and activities that the artists themselves organise. The point is to work with artists and art institutions to put art in a societal perspective, generate professional debate and provide insight into innovative artistic practice.

In 2021, we held nine out of 12 planned art salons. Of the three that were not held, one was cancelled and another postponed because of the pandemic. The topics taken up during the salons we held included extreme sports (during the Kunsthal Aarhus salon) and the activities of arts personalities in a world driven by realpolitik (during the Statens Museum for Kunst salon). In 2022, we will continue to facilitate the sharing of artistic knowledge and dialogue. Planned themes include Afrofuturism and representation, as well as body, gender and feminism.

Five years of homeless advocacy resulted in political action
Our work in social affairs sees us seeking to create systemic change for young people on the edge by generating new knowledge, testing new solutions, mobilising stakeholders, and setting agendas. Through our participation in The Alliance, a Home for All initiative, we work to end youth homelessness. Our involvement in this issue began in 2016, when we helped establish the Alliance as a partnership of 19 like-minded organisations. Over the past five years, we have advocated for the need to address the way we approach homelessness and change a system that, in some ways, perpetuates the problem.

In the autumn of 2021, we saw in earnest how the benefits of working together as an alliance when the government passed legislation to build more low-cost housing and make it easier for people to move off the streets. In something of a breakthrough, the legislation couples housing and social-affairs policies and promotes the spread of the “housing first” approach to ending homelessness, in which housing and initiatives to address the underlying causes of homelessness are packaged together. This is precisely what The Alliance, a Home for All has been arguing is necessary for ending long-term homelessness.

At the end of 2021, we bid farewell Vibe Klarup as director of The Alliance, a Home for All. Ms Klarup resigned in order to take on a position as secretary-general of Amnesty International Denmark. Since the inception of the partnership, she has been at the forefront of efforts to put its goals on the political agenda. She leaves behind an alliance that stands strong. An external evaluation of the Alliance’s first five years conducted by PLUSS found that it has done a good job of creating national political awareness and opportunities for more systemic improvements to the way homelessness is addressed. In addition, the evaluation highlighted that the Alliance appears to be a strong network characterised by constructive co-operation, and that the Alliance has established itself as a place that is crucial for key groups dealing with homeless to be involved in.

In the near term, the Alliance will work to make sure that the country’s 98 local councils put the newly passed legislation into practice. We look forward to working with new director Kira West and the rest of the Alliance in 2022 to see this job through to completion.

In 2021, we also chose to extend our collaboration with Alliance partner Red Cross on the initiative At Your Place (Hjem til Dig). The initiative began in 2018 as a three-year experiment to investigate how civil-society resources can be activated in new ways by getting volunteers to open their homes to young people with no permanent place to live. Experience from the pilot phase suggests that volunteer hosts can help young people find their footing, but that it can be difficult to recruit host families. In addition, there is a need to change the focus from offering young people a host family to offering them help to find a permanent place to live.

We made a DKK 4.1 million grant to At Your Place that will extend the partnership for three years as it moves into its next phase. During this period, the Red Cross and the Bikuben Foundation will experiment with a housing mentor initiative. These volunteers will be responsible for guiding young people as they navigate the options, they have that can lead to stable housing. We will also investigate what we can do to encourage people in the young person’s existing network to open their home temporarily.

Policy Lab recommendations influenced political action
In 2021, we continued the work with the My Way Home (Min Vej Hjem) innovation process and Policy Lab, which we launched in 2020. Both aim to help young people who have been removed from the home as they transition to adulthood — both in terms of their interactions with the council bureaucracy as well as in terms of activity to influence policymaking at the national level.

Our continued participation in the My Way Home process saw us carry on our work with the Danish Design Centre and Horsens and Nordfyn councils that supported the improvement of council practice in this area. Both councils tested their innovative concepts with the input of the young people they are intended to help. Each council has its own approach, but the basic idea was to do away with the mindset and a bureaucratic culture in which caseworkers take a problem-oriented approach to young people who need help. Instead, caseworkers identify a course of action that is based on the individual young person’s ambitions, strengths and motivation. We worked closely with the two councils to refine their concepts and raise their ambition level. The collaboration continues in 2022 and will encompass activities that will teach us more about how the concept can be rolled out in other councils.

In parallel, we continued to use our participation in the Policy Lab partnership (together with the National Association of Social Workers, the National Organisation of Social Educators, the National Association for Children’s Rights, the National Association for the Rights of Children Removed from the Home and the National Association of Daycare and Residential Care Providers) to formulate political recommendations that would ease the transition for young people ageing out of care outside the home. We made several recommendations for improving the out-of-home care system, including radically changing the way we approach the practice. In the spring of 2021, the Children First act came into being, and we were pleased to see that it reflected the Policy Lab visions and recommendations.

Policy Lab also took a first step — together with Kraka Advisory — to assess the level of investment that will be needed if we are to properly assist young people as they transition out of the out-of-home care system. The findings were released in the autumn at a conference attended by the social-affairs minister, Astrid Krag, as well as other relevant lawmakers, civil servants and leading social-affairs professionals. The assessment found that an annual public investment of about DKK 1 billion is necessary to properly support young people as they age out of care — but that this investment would be recouped within 20 years.

We believe that an investment in the transition to adulthood benefits more than the young people individually; it is also good for society as a whole. For that reason, our involvement in Policy Lab in 2022 will see us continuing to contribute new studies of possible economic models. We will also foster dialogue with new stakeholders in order to make sure that this group of young people has a voice in the public debate and the political negotiations that influence their future.

More Voices from the Block and a strategic partnership took shape
In 2019, we selected and launched three concepts as part of our Young People on the Edge — Young People Without Jobs or Education track. All three five-year projects represent a different way to improve young people’s life skills and move them into employment or education. One of the concepts is the Voices from the Block (Stemmer fra Blokken) programme. Overseen by the Turning Tables group, these are youth-run cultural laboratories in Brøndby and Roskilde councils. In 2021, we scaled up our participation in the project, increasing our contribution by DKK 1.5 million per year for the next four years. The additional funding was granted after Turning Tables was invited to partner with the City of Copenhagen and the Singapore-based ECCA Family Foundation on the establishment of a cultural laboratory in the chapel at Assistens Cemetery, in the city’s Nørrebro district. The initiative was open to young people from all three cultural laboratories and provided them with a space where they could use their artistic and cultural production to create experiences for people from other parts of the city. At the same time, the expansion of Voices from the Block provides an opportunity for Turning Tables to establish relations with local organisations, in the process creating an environment for the growth of strategic partnerships that can benefit of young people.

Improving the lives of young people without jobs and education was also the motivation behind our decision in 2021 to enter into a strategic partnership with the Academy for Social Innovation, the Social Development Centre, Copenhagen Dome and the Tuborg Foundation. The partnership will use the coming year to draw up a recommendation to the Reform Commission, a government panel that identifies areas that would benefit from reform. The recommendation suggests ways to help the almost 50,000 young people between the ages of 15-24 who are neither working nor in school.

We believe that the voice of young people must be heard if we are to succeed in creating solutions. We want to use the partnership to ensure that the next generation of reforms is created together with young people and with the input of a range of professional voices, and we took it as a mark of recognition that the student representatives from FGU Modstrøm, a school that addresses the same challenges as our Young People on the Edge — Young People Without Jobs or Education track, joined the partnership early this year. The partnership marks our first foray into working strategically to effect systemic change that benefits this group of young people. This is something we will seek to hone in the coming years.

Using nature to improve lives — from project to permanent programming
Since 2019, we have worked with the Forest and Landscape College at the University of Copenhagen on the development project Nature, the Key to a Good Life Laboratory (Natur til et godt liv — Laboratoriet). The project arose out of our work with our Svanninge Bjerge natural area of southern Funen, which has opened our eyes to the potential of incorporating nature into our programming for vulnerable young people. In connection with development of our programming, we learned that this was an unexplored research area. This led us to work with the Forest and Landscape College and six other partners to test and develop methods and new ways to help young people on the edge develop life skills through outdoor courses.

The three-year development project ended with a conference in the autumn in Svanninge Bjerge for municipal stakeholders and partners, NGOs and other interested parties. During the conference, the Centre for Youth Research presented the results of its evaluation of the laboratory’s work. Overall, the evaluation indicates being outdoors activates and stimulates the senses of vulnerable young people and creates unique spaces for development, relationships, conversation and reflection. At the same time, the evaluation shows that the success of organised exposure to nature can be assured by including relevant programming. Successful activities of this sort will make the outdoors accessible and important for this group of young people.

Starting in 2022, Nature, the Key to a Good Life Laboratory will go from a trial to a part of the programming we offer at Svanninge Bjerge. Similarly, we will continue to work with new and existing partners to develop and hold outdoor personal-development courses primarily geared towards young people.

Evaluation heightened focus on sustainable investment activity
In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on climate and sustainability in our society. For us, this focus is a natural part being a philanthropic organisation, and, as a foundation, we have for years been aware of acting responsibly and sustainably — in terms of the environment and climate, social affairs and corporate governance. Indeed, our work in both the arts and social affairs have the inherent goal of creating a sustainable society that allows human and artistic potential to unfold. Likewise, we have transformed our Svanninge Bjerge natural area from managed to wild forest in the hopes that this will lead to increased biodiversity. Our investments follow the UN Global Compact principles for responsible investment and other international conventions that Denmark has acceded to. This means, among other things, that, when we invest, we consider factors such as human rights, labour conditions, the environment and the level of corruption. Similarly, we do not invest in the production of controversial weapons or tobacco.

In order to act even more responsibly and to make our activities even more transparent, we took the opportunity in 2021 to act on what we saw was the need for a better overview of our investments from a sustainability perspective, and to act in a more systematic way to create improvements. This effort began on 30 April 2021 with a review of our investment portfolio that gave us an insight into how it measured up to sustainability standards. The purpose of the review was to give us the starting point for a strategic discussion of the sustainability of our investment portfolio, the values it reflects and the steps needed to be taken towards that goal.

The review was carried out by Curo Capital and showed that our portfolio, from a sustainability perspective, was close to the benchmark, placing us at the middle of the sustainability scale. It showed further that, from a general point of view, there are no problematic investments in our portfolio, such as nuclear, biological or chemical weapons or other controversial weapons.

Since the goal of the review was to help us invest more sustainably, we used it as a point of departure for a dialogue with our investment managers about their sustainability policies. We were enthused to see that they, in their own individual ways, chose to act constructively — in part by adding new sustainable strategies, in part by ending some of the least sustainable strategies. In addition, we chose to invest in the Baillie Gifford Positive Change global equity fund, given its specific focus on influencing the climate and social conditions.

We ended 2021 with a follow-up review of our portfolio. As of 31 December, it showed that, overall, our managers had made progress towards increased sustainability, primarily when it came to climate. Curo Capital attributes the improvement to the dialogue we had with the managers, and the initiatives we undertook after the initial review, in particular our investment in Baillie Gifford Positive Change.

In 2022, we will continue to work with our managers to increase the sustainability of our investments, and we will take the next step towards actively thinking about sustainability throughout the group by expanding it beyond the Bikuben Foundation proper and making it a guiding principle for our subsidiaries. In the spring of 2022, in collaboration with the Beierholm consultancy, we began mapping our activities as the first step towards being able to assess our overall sustainability, identifying where there is potential for improvement and how such initiatives can be prioritised and implemented.

Long-term investment strategy produced in historically high returns
Since 2004, we have had a long-term investment strategy and consistently increased our investments in private-equity and private-debt funds to the point that unlisted securities currently make up most of our portfolio. One of our arguments for adopting a long-term strategy was that we have seen that it results in relatively higher rates of return than would be possible with a more traditional investment strategy. In addition, the long-term approach helps eliminate volatility. Greater predictability is more in concert with our practice of giving multi-year grants.

Even with the economic uncertainties created by the pandemic, the strategy has shown its potential and its resilience. In 2021, we achieved a historically high return on our investments of DKK 412.0 million. The net result was DKK 400.6 million. This has given us the headroom we need to maintain a high level of grant-giving that amounts to DKK 119.0 million (excluding returned funding). The strong return on our investments in 2021 will allow us to increase our grant-giving limit to DKK 225 million in 2022, from the 2021 limit of DKK 150 million.

CFO resigned and new board seated
After 20 years of service to the Bikuben Foundation, CFO Henning Skovlund Pedersen resigned in April 2021. During his time with the foundation, he created significant results and helped to lay the groundwork for our current organisation, in part thanks to the development of a modern financial management system and the acquisition and active co-ownership of Enkotec A/S. In connection with Mr Pedersen’s resignation, we entered into an investment partnership with the brokerage Secure Spectrum Fondsmæglerselskab. The partnership gives Secure Spectrum Fondsmæglerselskab an advisory mandate yet leaves final decision-making and execution in the hands of the foundation. Since his resignation, Mr Pedersen has continued with the Bikuben Foundation in a reduced capacity as a special adviser. He is involved in the development of 29 Thoravej and in development of Svanninge Bjerge’s scientific activities.

With the acquisition of 29 Thoravej and the efforts to assemble a community of social-affairs and arts stakeholders, we saw in 2021 that the time was ripe to reorganise the foundation. In connection with Mr Pedersen’s resignation, we expanded the management, placing the head of the social-affairs programming, currently Sine Egede Eskesen, and the head of arts programming, currently Mette Marcus, in the management team together with the chief administrative officer, currently Søren Kaare-Andersen. Ms Egede Eskesen and Ms Marcus have for spent the past nine contributing to the Bikuben Foundation’s transition from a classic applicant-driven foundation to the catalytic foundation that builds its progress on the strong partnerships we have formed. We look forward to continuing the work that will move the Bikuben Foundation in this direction in 2022 — and in particular to the continued progress of the 29 Thoravej project.

Grant distributions in 2021

In 2021, grant distributions totalled DKK 119m distributed as DKK 56,5m to current performing and visual arts, DKK 52,9m to young people on the edge, and DKK 9,6m to other purposes. In addition, there was a carry-back of grants distributed in previous years in the amount of DKK 9m, and thus the net result of grants paid equalled DKK 110m.

In 2021, grant distributions totalled DKK 119m distributed as DKK 56,5m to current performing and visual arts, DKK 52,9m to young people on the edge, and DKK 9,6m to other purposes.
The assets of the Bikuben Foundation
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The Bikuben Foundation is a commercial foundation. We own various assets, each manged individually according to its purpose: some assets are held as investments and some are used for furthering the goals of the foundation. Our assets that further the goals of the foundation include: Svanninge Bjerge, a unique forested area that we primarily use for social activities; three halls of residence that provide students a good base during their studies and our Live Together (Bo Sammen) initiative in which we allocate 10% of the flats in two of our halls of residence to young people on the edge.

For investment purposes, we have DKK 2.0 billion placed in listed bonds and shares, as well as investments in unlisted private-equity and private-debt funds. In addition, we are the sole owner of Enkotec A/S.

The returns the foundation earns on its investments form the basis of our grants to projects that advance current performing and visual arts and improve the outlook for young people on the edge.

Our investments follow the UN Global Compact principles for responsible investment and other international conventions that Denmark has acceded to. This means, among other things, that, when we invest, we consider factors such as human rights, labour conditions, the environment and the level of corruption. Similarly, we do not invest in the production of controversial weapons or tobacco. We have decided that, in 2022, we will take further steps towards thinking sustainability into the entirety of our organisation. This will start with a mapping of the sustainability of our activities in order to identify areas of potential improvement and how such initiatives can be prioritised and implemented.


The Svanninge Bjerge natural area and the associated Høbbet Farm are located on southern Funen. Together, the two properties constitute a six-hundred-hectare area owned and managed by the Bikuben Foundation.

In 2005 and 2006, we acquired the largest and central parts of the area with the aim of preserving and developing the unique natural environment and landscape and, in so doing, provide the ideal habitat for animal and plant life for the benefit of present and future generations. In 2020, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the presentation of the vision for Svanninge Bjerge. Over the years, we have expanded the area by incorporating smaller adjacent tracts of land. Our most recent expansion took place in the second half of 2021 when we purchased a 5-hectare property near the Svanninge Bjerge Research Station. We manage the entire area with the goal of making it as biologically diverse as possible. Svanninge Bjerge is open to anyone who wants to enjoy the diversity of nature and experience the hilly, glaciated landscape and the picturesque views of the Danish archipelago and the mainland. Thousands of people visit Svanninge Bjerge each year. In 2018, together with the neighbouring Svanninge Bakker area, it was included in the Danish nature canon. In 2021, as in 2020, Svanninge Bjerge was a popular destination. The area is widely used for organised outdoor activities, as well as casually by the general public. During the pandemic, many people turned to the forest as a place of refuge.

Using nature to address social issues
In recent years, the Nature, the Key to a Good Life (Natur til et godt liv) initiative has made us increasingly aware of nature’s potential benefits for young people on the edge. In 2019, we launched the Nature, the Key to a Good Life Laboratory in partnership with the Forest and Landscape College at the University of Copenhagen, the Aalborg University Centre for Youth Research and a number of organisations and local councils. The goal of the three-year initiative (2019-2021) was to develop methodologies and explore how nature can be integrated into treatment and educational programmes to help them improve their life skills. The laboratory’s aim is to develop the field of nature-integrated social work while also developing itself as an institution. In 2021, the laboratory’s status went from trial programme to permanent inclusion in the programming we offer at Svanninge Bjerge. During two conferences held to mark the end of the laboratory’s three-year establishment period, we held two conferences at Svanninge Bjerge during which the Centre for Youth Research presented the results of its evaluation of the laboratory’s work.

Unmanaged forest and biodiversity in Svanninge Bjerge
In 2020, the process of phasing out forestry operations in Svanninge Bjerge was completed. The process was begun in 2016 as part of a rewilding programme. Since then, we have made efforts to break up the uniformity created by commercial forestry. The aim is to allow for a more varied environment that encompasses large, natural, open spaces; vegetation consisting of low bushes and high trees of varying ages; expanses of wetlands; and, most importantly, an ecosystem that can support a rich variety of life.

The goal of rewilding is a constant increase in biodiversity in concert with the activities that take place in the area. Since 2007, Welsh Black cattle have grazed in the area, and, in 2021, we introduced Dülmener horses. This breed of horse is robust and used to finding its own food. The horses in Svanninge Bjerge are originally from Lüneburg Heath, in Saxony, where they live in semi-wild herds. Their grazing and their impact on the landscape helps to increase the biological diversity of Svanninge Bjerge. The well-being of the animals that graze in Svanninge Bjerge is ensured through daily visual observation, as well as an annual check-up carried out by Dyrenes Beskyttelse, the Danish humane society.

It should be expected that work of varying intensity will still be required in parts of Svanninge Bjerge to promote biodiversity. The most recent of these projects, the re-establishment of a large bog known as Røjlemaen, began in 2021. We expect that it will be necessary to vary our management methods for a number of years before the desired structures and variation in the area are achieved.

We hope that the unmanaged forest will promote the establishment of more wild and biodiverse areas in Denmark as part of our efforts to support national objectives for wild/uncultivated forest areas, as well as the UN’s goals for stopping species loss.

Svanninge Bjerge Research Station
We make the Svanninge Bjerge Research Station available to scientists and students from the University of Southern Denmark. The university uses the station for a variety of purposes, including conducting biological fieldwork and for educational purposes in connection with biodiversity monitoring. The University of Southern Denmark is a tenant of the research station, which is equipped with lecture halls, laboratories and accommodation.


The Bikuben Foundation has made grants to Kollegiefonden Bikuben for a number of years. The money has been used to build and operate three halls of residence, in the cities of Odense, Aalborg and Copenhagen.

Kollegiefonden Bikuben was established in 2001 with the goal creating modern housing for students in the old Danish university cities. In May 2004, the Bikuben Kollegiet in Odense was completed. It contains 88 modern flats of various sizes and a range of communal facilities. In 2006, Kollegiefonden Bikuben welcomed 115 students to the Bikuben Kollegiet in Copenhagen’s Ørestad district. And, in 2008, the Bikuben Kollegiet in Aalborg, with a total of 64 flats, was taken into use.

The Bikuben Foundation and Kollegiefonden Bikuben merged in 2019. The combined foundation retains the name Bikuben Foundation. The aim of the merger was to allow for more flexibility in the operation of the foundation, which, ultimately, will allow us to make larger philanthropic grants.

Sustainability is a key consideration for us in the operation of our halls of residence. We choose energy-efficient and durable solutions. The halls, therefore, make use of innovations such as intelligent lighting systems that turn off lights automatically when not in use. In addition, all halls of residence reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions by using electricity generated at offshore windfarms.

The halls of residence promote social sustainability. And to this end we use them as a tool to accomplish our goal of ending youth homelessness in Denmark. As part of our Living Together initiative, the Copenhagen and Odense halls of residence allocate 10% of their flats to young people as a way to help them make close relations, find work or begin school and find a permanent place to live. With this policy, we aim to contribute to a culture of reciprocity, mutual engagement and inclusion, and to build the basis for a sustainable society. This initiative is part of the Bikuben Foundation’s goal of ending youth homelessness.

The experience of the first four years of the Living Together initiative has shown that it has worked well at the Odense hall of residence, which primarily offers studio apartments, without the shared facilities that force hall residents to interact with each other. The Copenhagen hall of residence has shared kitchens and is known for its strong sense of community. This may lead to a sense of alienation in young people who previously had no permanent place to live, and it may make it difficult for them to feel welcome there. Nevertheless, we remain committed to the idea that the hall of residence is a community that can be a resource for homeless young people, and, as a result, in 2021 we entered into a two-year collaboration with the Askov Foundation to develop and test a new and community-oriented support model for the Copenhagen hall of residence. Our hope is that the success will lead to further initiatives to integrate young people on the edge into other types of group activities, such as education and recreation.

Modernisation of the Copenhagen hall of residence’s lighting art was undertaken in 2020.  Knowledge was created by Viera Collaro in connection with the construction of the hall of residence in 2006.


The purchase of 29 Thoravej in Copenhagen’s Nordvest district on 1 March 2021, provides us with a unique opportunity to create a place where we, together with social-affairs and arts stakeholders and experts can come up with opportunities for young people on the edge and current performing and visual arts. With almost 6,400 square metres spread over four storeys, the building presents us with countless ways that it can be incorporated into our philanthropic work.

The team that will be carrying out the renovation was chosen in 2021. It consists of Pihlmann Architects, construction company Hoffmann A/S and consulting engineering firm ABC Rådgivende Ingeniører. Central to our choice of these firms was that they place a priority on creating a local landmark and value sustainability. The guiding philosophy for the renovation is that the building must, to the extent possible, reuse itself. We expect that the building will be granted DGNB Gold status. We expect to begin using the new building at the end of 2023. It will be owned by our subsidiary Høbbet A/S.


Bikuben Foundation New York, Inc was established by the Bikuben Foundation in 2003. Two years later, we acquired a 1,300m2 property with the intention of establishing a hall of residence for Danes studying in New York City. Academic Guest House opened on 1 January 2008. It is situated on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, close to Central Park, and its twelve flats accommodate 22 students. To qualify for residence at the Academic Guest House, a Danish student or academic must have a formal agreement with an educational institution in New York City or with an educational organisation that offers master classes.

Due to the situation created by Covid-19 and the related restrictions that were in place for most of 2021, we were forced to occasionally limit the number of people we housed. We assess how and to what extent we can accommodate students at the Academic Guest House on an on-going basis. When we admit students, it is on the condition that educational institutions in New York are open.


Enkotec A/S is a company that is wholly owned by the Bikuben Foundation. Since 2006, when the Bikuben Foundation assumed ownership and added the company to our investment portfolio, Enkotec’s profits have been allocated entirely to funding the Bikuben Foundation’s philanthropic work.

Enkotec A/S is the world’s leading supplier of machines for making precision nails. For more than forty years, Enkotec A/S has been developing and refining machines for mass-producing precision nails for the building industry. Enkotec’s machines are designed to produce nails in mass quantities to keep unit costs down while, at the same time, maintaining a high level of quality. Moreover, the machines are more energy-efficient, make less noise and pollute less than competing products on the market. Thanks to a special technology, Enkotec’s machines do not require lubrication, as other nail-making machines do, which reduces the environmental impact. Environmental issues are generally a high priority for Enkotec A/S; its production is powered by sustainable energy sources, it has introduced a system for sorting used packaging and paper and it primarily serves organic food in its canteen.

In recent years, Enkotec A/S has been engaged in developing IoT solutions. Data generated by machines can make it possible to anticipate maintenance needs. Consequently, clients can plan servicing to optimise operations and avoid down-time, allowing for highly efficient production, regardless of a client’s location. As part of this, Enkotec A/S has developed a sales concept that allows clients to lease machines.

Enkotec A/S holds its suppliers to high quality and corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards; all suppliers must live up to Enkotec’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which is based on the UN’s Supplier Code of Conduct.

Enkotec history
Enkotec A/S began as a PhD development project in 1981 at the NKT nail factory in Middelfart, Denmark. Enkotec A/S was incorporated in 1986 as an independent company and relocated to Skanderborg, where it is still headquartered. The Bikuben Foundation is committed to keeping Enkotec A/S’s manufacturing operations in Denmark. Since the acquisition by the Bikuben Foundation, Enkotec A/S has quadrupled in size.

Today, Enkotec A/S employs an average of 63 people and has about two-thirds of the global market share for equipment to for the production high-quality nails. In addition to its headquarters in Skanderborg, Enkotec A/S has an office in the United States and three agencies in other countries that allow the company to cover the global market. There are more than 800 Enkotec nail-production machines in 50 countries worldwide.

The Bikuben Foundation’s financial strategy is the cornerstone of our philanthropic work. It ensures maximal return on our investments within the chosen risk profile. Despite the continued impact of the pandemic on the world community, 2021 was a generally good year for investors who were willing to expose themselves to risk, and thus again a good investment year for the Bikuben Foundation, which in 2021 achieved its best investment result ever.
The Bikuben Foundation has its historical and conceptual roots in the Danish savings bank Sparekassen Bikuben.
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Sparekassen Bikuben was established in 1857. It was the first savings bank to operate both a financial institution and a mutual-welfare society. The social aspect of its activity came in reply to the need for improved welfare services for the growing working class of Copenhagen. Today, the Bikuben Foundation uses its returns and holdings to make grants, primarily to the arts and social programmes, based on the fundamental ideas that shaped the savings bank: social responsibility, innovation and self-help.

Over the years, various mergers, take-overs and other developments have changed the framework and ownership of Sparekassen Bikuben and its successors. Several smaller charitable foundations grew out of these activities and later merged with foundations that had similar remits. In 2010, in the most recent such merger, BG Fonden was absorbed by Bikuben Fonden af 1989 (the Bikuben Foundation of 1989), the latter a commercially operated foundation that continues as the Bikuben Foundation. The Bikuben Foundation established Kollegiefonden Bikuben in 2001 in order to build halls of residence that, since 2016, have reserved space for homeless young people. In 2019, Kollegiefonden Bikuben merged with the Bikuben Foundation, establishing in the process the commercially operated Bikuben Foundation.


The assets of the Bikuben Foundation stem originally from the transition, in 1989, of Sparekassen Bikuben to Sparekasse Aktieselskab, a limited company. The foundation has a diverse investment portfolio that is managed with the goal of maximising returns and to use the proceeds to fund the foundation’s philanthropic activities. Our portfolio includes investments in firms, shares, bonds and credit bonds that reflects the foundation’s risk profile. The brokerage Secure Spectrum Fondsmæglerselskab is the foundation’s financial consultant.

The Bikuben Foundation’s largest investments are in companies in the form of private-equity investments. Active investment in listed securities is currently outsourced to two external managers, Danish Capital and SEB Asset Management, with identical mandates.

In addition, the Bikuben Foundation owns Enkotec A/S. Headquartered in Skanderborg, Denmark, Enkotec A/S is a world leader in the development and manufacture of machines for the production of high-precision nails for the global building industry.

The Bikuben Foundation’s consolidated accounts include its own activities and the activities of Enkotec A/S, BIFI A/S and Høbbet A/S. Høbbet A/S manages and develops properties. Its portfolio includes: 29 Thoravej, in the Nordvest district of Copenhagen; the research station in the Bikuben Foundation-owned nature area, Svanninge Bjerge; and the agricultural land adjacent to Svanninge Bjerge.


According to its statutes, the Bikuben Foundation has the following purposes:

  • to carry out financial activities through investments in shares or other participating interests and convertible debentures in commercial enterprises of every description;
  • to provide grants, grant loans or in any other way encourage the operations of Danish enterprises for skilled trades and minor industrial businesses and, hence, contribute to the establishment of new enterprises within trade and light industry, as well as contributing to development projects within the framework of such enterprises;
  • to serve non-profit and charitable objectives, subject to the Board’s discretion, comprising objectives that would have been natural for Bikuben to support, taking its history and identity into account.


The Bikuben Foundation’s philanthropic work is carried out in Denmark and, to a limited extent, in Greenland. The foundation seeks to create new opportunities for young people on the edge of society and helps artists and cultural institutions find new paths. The foundation’s social initiatives focus mainly on young people aged 13 to 30 facing complex social challenges. Within the arts, the foundation focuses mainly on the performing and visual arts. Every year, the foundation presents the Vision Exhibition Award, which supports the realisation of visionary visual-arts exhibition formats. The Bikuben Foundation also hosts a series of salons focusing on issues, trends and developments within the performing and visual arts.

In addition, the Bikuben Foundation recognises extraordinary achievements in culture and the social area via the Crown Prince Couple’s Awards.

The Bikuben Foundation owns and manages the Svanninge Bjerge natural area, which is used, among other things, as the setting for the foundation’s nature-based social initiative, Nature, the Key to a Good Life.

The Bikuben Foundation provides funding for Bikuben Foundation New York, Inc and provided funding to the now-defunct Kollegiefonden Bikuben. These funds have been used to operate an Academic Guest House in New York City and to build and operate three student halls of residence in Denmark, in the cities of Odense, Aalborg and Copenhagen.

Board of Directors and management
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The Board of Directors is made up of six Members elected by simple majority of the Board for two-year periods. Members can be re-elected to up to five times, for a maximum term of 12 years. The Board elects the Chair; it may also elect a Vice-Chair. Members are eligible for re-election up to and including the year in which they turn 69. Members must resign no later than 1 May of the year in which they turn 70.

Potential new Members are identified by means of an exhaustive recruitment process that often involves impartial external assistance. The goal of the process is to ensure that the Board possesses the highest qualifications in the areas within its remit: management, investment, business administration, the arts, and social issues.

The Board approves the strategies for foundation activities and investments and is guided by the principles of foundation governance. The Board is responsible for the overall management of the foundation. It determines the general principles for the foundation’s work and ensures that they are being lived up to. The Board advises the management. The Board is responsible for conducting an annual evaluation of its own work.

The Board of the Bikuben Foundation met nine times in 2021. One meeting was a strategy meeting. In addition, the Chair and the Vice-Chair held meetings with the foundation’s management prior to the Board Meetings.

Each Board Member receives DKK 200,000 / year in remuneration. The chair receives three times that amount, and the Vice-Chair receives twice that amount. No other Board Members receive additional remuneration from the Bikuben Foundation.

The management of the Bikuben Foundation

The Bikuben Foundation’s management team is made up of: managing director Søren Kaare-Andersen and directors Mette Marcus and Sine Egede Eskesen. Mr Kaare-Andersen receives an annual salary of kr 2,392,504. Ms Marcus and Ms Egede Eskesen each receive an annual salary of 1,250,000.

In 2021, the foundation had an average full-time staff of 28, of which an average of 14 performed duties related to administration, projects, Bikuben Foundation New York, Inc or Høbbet A/S and BIFI A/S. A further 69 are employed full-time by Enkotec A/S.

Whistle-blower policy for the Bikuben Foundation group

The Bikuben Foundation has an open and transparent corporate culture in which anyone can freely report suspicions of irregular or illegal behaviour that may have been experienced by our employees, management, the Board of Directors, customers, grantees, partners or other stakeholders. For this reason, we established a whistle-blower system in 2020 that can support our ambitions.

In 2021, no incidents were reported via the whistle-blower system.

Value base
Annual reports 2016-2020
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You can read the full version of the Bikuben Foundation's annual report 2021 here (in Danish only). 
Read annual reports from 2020201920182017 and 2016 here (in Danish only).

Read annual reports for BIFI A/S 2021202020192018 and 2017 here (in Danish only).

Read annual reports for Høbbet A/S 20212020201920182017 and 2016 here (in Danish only).

Read annual reports for (the former) Kollegiefonden Bikuben 20182017 and 2016 here (in Danish only).

Recommendations on
Foundation Governance

The Bikuben Foundation embraces the Recommendations on Foundation Governance such as they have been set out by the Danish Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs.