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COPENHAGEN -- While the European Union debt crisis has left foreign investors wary of putting their money into the 27-member bloc, the stable, open Nordic economies on its periphery could prove an important arena for Chinese firms looking to expand overseas.
Among these, Denmark stands out for being relatively shielded from the debt crisis as its national currency, the Danish kroner, offers investors an alternative to the troubled euro common currency, even as its economy is fully integrated in the EU single market.
The country has little heavy industry, or mineral wealth, apart from in Greenland, where potential reserves of oil, gas and minerals are a long way from commercial exploitation.
However, Denmark acts as a commercial bridge between Scandinavia and northern Europe, and is home to an array of high-technology industries in sectors relevant to sustainable, green growth. It is these factors, alongside the country's macroeconomic stability, that are encouraging Sino-Danish collaboration and innovation.
For instance, Denmark is a world leader in wind turbine manufacture, while chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and services account for approximately three-fourths of national gross domestic product.
"Wind technology took root many years ago in Denmark and Germany, so we have people here who represent a lot of experience, and experience adds value," said Anders Rebsdorf, Director of the Global Innovation Center of Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Envision Energy, in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"We can add competence and reduce risk in a lot of decisions by having the innovation center in a place where we have a lot of experience in this field," he added, explaining why the company chose, in 2010, to place the center in Silkeborg, on Denmark's Jutland peninsula.
Today, the center develops and tests new types of wind turbines in Denmark to ensure Envision maintains a robust product pipeline.
The country also has strong competences, and growing collaborations, in life sciences, information technology, water and waste management, energy efficient and renewable energy technologies, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, food safety and industrial design.
Examples of Sino-Danish collaboration in life sciences, for instance, is found in a program involving Copenhagen University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, where teams explore how to replace silicon with organic materials, in a quest to merge biology and chemistry with electronics.
One application of this research could be in converting heat into electricity by designing nano materials based on organic materials. In turn, this could impact development of more energy efficient transport systems, researchers involved in the process said.
Meanwhile, genetics research has been boosted by China's Beijing Genomics Institute, a sequencing powerhouse establishing its European headquarters in Copenhagen in February this year.
"Denmark is very good at bio research, genomics research, clinical research, health care, biofuels, energy and many of those aspects of bio tech," said BGI executive director Wang Jun, in an interview with Xinhua.
"Beijing Genomics Institute is particularly strong in genomics and informatics. We are using our technologies, along with the expertise available here. It could be a perfect match," he added, referring to the institute's collaboration with Danish partners.
Joint genetics projects include mapping the entire genome of the Danish population, which would help study causes of hereditary diseases and common illnesses, and could one day lead to development of personalized treatments, including a vaccine against certain types of cancers.
Experts say collaboration and investment in such knowledge-intensive sectors could eventually mean developing technologies on site in Denmark and selling them on in the EU.
In fact, the sophisticated and wealthy Danish market provides companies an ideal testing ground for high-tech gadgets and information technology products.
Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, for instance, launched its Danish operations four years ago, in a bid to find new markets and talent, but also to learn more about what local consumers want.