“The brains make the difference”

Interview with Jane Rygaard, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Nokia

Jane Rygaard, Nokia

Aalborg is making an impact in future technology

With 100,000 employees worldwide, the 70 Nokia employees in Aalborg might not look like much in the global enterprise. But the research, knowledge and foundation for product development that is created here in Aalborg, is making a huge impact, says Jane Rygaard, Head of Corporate Partnerships.

Could have worked anywhere in the world

Nokia is headquartered in Finland and has to divisions in Denmark, a sales division in Copenhagen and the department in Aalborg, which is focused primarily on research and network development.

The Aalborg department was created in 1999 and has always had close ties with Aalborg University.

Jane Rygaard has a background as an engineer and has worked for Nokia since 1999. First, with a base in New Zealand and later in Finland. In 2009 Jane and her family moved on to Aalborg.

- My manager back then was Brazilian but lived and worked in Germany. His point of view was, that if I lived near an airport and had access to a phone, I could live anywhere I wanted.

- My choice was Aalborg. Here I had the Airport, a well-established Nokia division and it was close to other family members.

Copenhagen was also in the picture, but her family would have to live further from the airport and spend a lot time on transport.

Today Jane is Head of Dedicated Wireless Networks & Edge Clouds and has a global responsibility with regard to product development within network solutions in Nokia.


Aalborg behind some of big tech patents

In Aalborg, Nokia is working with 5G network, Edge Cloud solutions, research, and patents. To be on top of the latest research, the department has formed close ties with Aalborg University and many employees is employed by both the university and Nokia. Jane elaborates:

- In the digital business environment of the future, downtime won’t be accepted, and consistent and reliable response time will be a critical must. Therefore we’ll all be depending on the 5G-based infrastructure. And that is what the Nokia-employees in Aalborg are working on. Some of these people have even begun the initial work on the future 6G network.

As a fun fact, Jane brings up the patent density in Denmark and it turns out, that if you are looking at a patent heatmap showing Denmark, the city of Klarup would light up. This is because some of the bright minds in Nokia live in the small city, just outside of Aalborg.

“In the digital business environment of the future, downtime won’t be accepted, and consistent and reliable response time will be a critical must."

An easier path from patent to product development

- I always claim that you can’t find this kind of close partnership between research and business development anywhere else on the planet and that is an element noticed by Nokia on a global scale.

says Jane Rygaard, who explains that the patent development is often what creates the foundation for later standardization within wireless network technology, which then sparks product development and the whole commercialization.

- It is important to Nokia, that we are here in Aalborg. The knowledge developed here and the pace of which it is distributed and shared with the global product development department is crucial for us – meaning we can go from test to product faster than our competitors – and often as part of a patent.

- We can be one step ahead and that is why Nokia has a global interest in Aalborg.

- I would also like to highlight Smart Lab at Aalborg University, where ideas can be tested and presented. We sometimes bring customers to the lab and this way it becomes very hands-on and easy for partners to engage with the solutions. It is a great advantage of our location.

“...you can’t find this kind of close partnership between research and business development anywhere else on the planet...“

A global village

- The brains make the difference

 says Jane Rygaard with a smile, when asked about the special features of Aalborg.

- And the fact that we have an attractive city means that we get to keep the brains. The size of the city plays an important role, as you won’t get lost here and the workplaces often create room for both research and discussion. These are attractive conditions for our employees.

- Generally, we have a lot of applicants for our vacant positions – also foreign applications. And it is my experience that many of our international employees feel at home in Aalborg. In that sense, Aalborg is a modern city with a global mindset, without being too big and complex. Maybe a kind of global village.

- I really enjoy the informal climate in Aalborg. And I often hear the phrase ‘I know a guy, shouldn’t we ask him or her?’. There is almost always someone who knows someone in the business community and in both small and large companies.

- The distance is short across industries and I generally experience a great deal of goodwill, when it comes to the sharing of networks, contacts and knowledge. It does not have to be so formal and behind closed curtains like in many other cultures. This also enables us to go from idea to action much faster.


Are we too modest in Aalborg?

- We need to dare to be international in Aalborg. We've got so much to offer, but it’s like we think, we don’t need to tell the world. We need to change our approach. And begin sharing and shouting about what we do so well here in Aalborg.

- I am so proud of the work we do in Aalborg and I prioritize bringing our city with me, when I travel the world on business, just like how I try to bring home international perspectives. Aalborg should not act trough Copenhagen. We need to act on our own.

How do we get more girls interested in technology?

When asked about a special area of interest or cause, Jane replies quickly.

- It is particularly important to me that more women will want to take part in creating the technologies of the future and this is a process starting already with the youngest girls in primary school. Girls must want to educate themselves within technology, because in the future we will need more candidates when recruiting for talent.

- Technology has to represent the reality we are a part of, and our world is diverse. Technology can’t do much more than what the developer wants it to do. That’s why its important to me, that we focus more on diversity in future technologies – like in the creation of autonomous vehicles and the robots that will take care of us in future nursing homes.

As an ending remark Jane elaborates.

- Personally, I have chosen to teach coding to the 2. Graders at my children’s school to give them a taste of what you can do with technology and how fun it can be.


“Technology has to represent the reality we are a part of, and our world is diverse..."

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