Fehmarn project gives Danish consulting companies export opportunities


Danish engineering companies are exporting their expertise on an unprecedented scale.

According to industry figures from the Danish Association of Consulting Engineers, FRI, strong expertise within the infrastructure area and, in particular, Danish-based projects are driving the engine of growth.

Major infrastructure projects like the Great Belt, Øresund and now the Fehmarnbelt Fixed link create know-how, and this is very valuable to Danish consulting companies. 

"Major projects require a broad range of professional skills,” says Claus F. Baunkjær, CEO, Femern A/S. "The Fehmarnbelt project has engaged with a number of renowned Danish companies, such as Aarsleff, Rambøll and DHI. The design, construction and measuring methods that have been developed for the fixed links are at a premium across the world.” 

Figures from FRI show that exports of engineering consultancy in 2016 represented 19% of the industry’s total revenue, corresponding to DKK 2.4 billion: a rise of 2 per cent compared to the previous year. FRI has analysed the composition of exports where infrastructure consultancy – bridges, tunnels and roads, etc. – now account for almost half (47%). 

"Moreover, there is another DKK 11-12 billion in additional revenue from foreign subsidiaries, which also draw on know-how from Denmark. At a conservative estimate, I believe that around DKK 3 billion comes from infrastructure,” says Henrik Garver, CEO, FRI.   

Asger Knudsen, Director of the Transport Division at Rambøll, agrees that major infrastructure projects have a major role to play in the growth of Danish companies in international markets. 

"Danish consultants possess highly sought-after international expertise that we’ve been building with our customers and partners for decades thanks to our major local construction projects, such as the Great Belt and Øresund Fixed Links. The knowledge and experience that will be acquired with the Fehmarnbelt link project will create many jobs - long after the tunnel has been built,” says Asger Knudsen. 

The special complexity and scale of Danish mega projects have created a need to bring the latest knowledge into play, work with new data, develop new measuring and production methods and find innovative solutions to complex issues. Society’s demands for projects and building methods are on the increase. 

One of the companies that has helped to develop and deliver knowledge to all three fixed links is DHI of Hørsholm, which is one of the world’s leading consulting companies within advanced field studies and modelling of water and the aquatic environment.  

"Denmark is at the forefront in terms of building prudently in marine environments. The three fixed link projects necessitated new solutions and measuring methods to meet all the environmental aspects. Advanced solutions and exemplary projects were the result, and these have been noted abroad. Our ambition to solve complex challenges on a large scale is a significant point of reference that we can bring into play in other largescale marine construction projects around the world", says Jacob Høst-Madsen, COO at DHI.  

Experience from the fixed links has helped to transform DHI into a global company with 1,100 employees across 30 countries. Marine activities account for around one-third of the company’s total business.  

Danish consultants, therefore, have high expectations of the Fehmarnbelt fixed link. As the 18 km long Fehmarnbelt tunnel will be the world’s longest immersed tunnel and the longest combined road and rail tunnel under water, the project is attracting considerable interest from abroad. 

"One of the reasons for their success abroad is that Danish consulting companies are internationally competitive as regards quality and price, and they have both the skills and experience. This is quite clear in Europe,” Henrik Garver says. 

Mega projects such as the Fehmarnbelt link also mean that it is easier for Danish consultants to attract the best employees from abroad because including a well-known project on a CV can only be an advantage.   

"It’s a win for us every time a Danish consulting company or contractor uses the Fehmarnbelt project, and our other major infrastructure projects, as a basis for selling their services abroad, thereby boosting Danish exports. This means that our project provides a double return for Danish society,” says Claus F. Banukjær, CEO, Femern A/S.

About the Fehmarnbelt tunnel

  • The Fehmarnbelt tunnel is the biggest construction project in the history of Denmark
  • Building the tunnel will require 3.2 million cubic metres concrete and 360,000 tonnes steel reinforcement 
  • The construction budget is DKK 52.6 billion
  • Up to 3,000 tunnel workers will be directly employed on the project 
  • The Fehmarnbelt tunnel will be 18 km long with two road and two rail tubes  
  • It will take 10 minutes by car and 7 minutes by train to cross the Fehmarnbelt