Project Onboard Denmark is a 3-year research and practice-development initiative focused on supporting Danish Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to better recruit, onboard, and retain international talent.




Running from 2021-2023, Project Onboard Denmark will - through research, dialogue and trialing innovative tools – support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to better recruit, onboard, and retain international specialists.

To aid Denmark’s continued economic growth and innovation potential, Danish-based SMEs are internationalising in various ways. One of the ways to do this is to recruit professionals with very specific skills and knowledge from abroad.

This is often needed as SMEs can’t find the necessary talent in Denmark, but also because to expand into new markets, specific cultural and linguistic knowledge, as well as previous work experience in these places, is often needed.

Some SMEs have been ‘born global’ and are very international already; but for many – looking outside Denmark for the necessary skills is newer and has implications – financial, administrative, and for workplace culture.

Project Onboard Denmark – run by six partners, funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark and in collaboration with the national initiative Talent to Denmark – will, through rigorous research and direct development work with SMEs, develop a customizable toolbox. The toolbox will cover a wide range of SME needs, and be attentive to differences in sector, size, and geographical location.


Four out of 10 companies see labor shortages as the biggest growth challenge in 2022.

(Dansk Industri, 2022)


The case for hiring international talent has been made – increased innovation, creating new jobs, boosting exports, and promoting more inclusive workspaces.

(Industriens Fond, 2018; Morais & Ferreira, 2020)


40% of SMEs lack the knowledge or willingness to recruit internationally to fill their skills gaps.

(DAMVAD Analytics, 2017)




Project Onboard Denmark will produce a customised toolbox for SMEs with different needs, in different sectors, of varying sizes etc.

The tools will be research-based, tried & tested with SMEs, and adaptable for different needs.

The tools will focus on ‘thinking about recruiting international employees’, to ‘how to recruit someone from abroad’, to specific tools for taking stock of and reviewing workplace cultures, to a guide for short-, medium- and long-term onboarding processes and much more.

Depending on your role in an SME – you will be directed to specific tools most useful to you.

We are still developing our full toolbox – but here is a sneak preview of some of them. Stay tuned for more, which we will add here as and when they are ready!

Step into someone else's shoes

An interactive exercise to help teams be curious about each other’s backgrounds and find out how to work more effectively together.


Our research has highlighted a number of tensions in thinking about and actioning the recruitment of international employees. Here we set these out and offer ways of navigating these tensions productively.

The SME ecosystem

Shows all the key players involved in the decision to recruit international talent and how they all play a role in ensuring a new recruit makes a quick, effective and long-term contribution to the SME.



If you want to get in involved or are looking for more information please, get in touch:

Claire Maxwell Project Lead & Professor at The University of Copenhagen
Marianne Danling Project Manager
Dr. Poornima Luthra Diversity and Inclusion Expert, Educator, Consultant & Author
Signe Biering Nielsen Executive Coach, Advisor & former Diplomat

Page photo credits, in order of appearance: Viggo Lundberg, Frederik Teodor Toft, Koren Oren, Ulrik Jantzen, Ty Stange