Most Danes know the New Little Belt Bridge, the Great Belt Bridge and the Copenhagen Metro. In other parts of the world, the consulting engineers of COWI are known for their contribution to projects in water supply, infrastructure and urban development. This year, the company celebrates its 90th anniversary and that comes with responsibility, believes CEO, Lars-Peter Søbye.
The first project ever was renovating a worn-down Copenhagen theatre – the Scala. Since then, one project followed the next for Danish consulting engineering group COWI, which over the years has contributed technical knowhow, planning and innovation to more than 50,000 projects in 175 countries.
The company’s international track record includes major infrastructure projects in India and Africa; the largest wastewater treatment plant in the world, the Kuryanovo in Moscow; development of energy supply systems and waste management in Africa and Asia; as well as iconic bridges and buildings such as the Hålogaland Bridge in Norway, Stonecutters Bridge in Hong Kong, Mersey Gateway in the UK, and the Oculus in New York.
In Denmark, COWI has used its calculation programs and helmets to build a lot of cultural and sports facilities across the country. For instance, Royal Arena, the Blue Planet and Moesgård Museum. COWI's engineers, economists and environmental planners were also consulted for the Copenhagen Metro, the Great Belt Link and numerous road and bridge projects across Denmark – and, of course, the Oresund Bridge, which was the longest rail and road cable-stayed bridge in the world when it opened in 2000. COWI’s CEO, Lars-Peter Søbye, believes the 90th anniversary gives cause for reflection:
“COWI celebrating its 90th anniversary is proof that we’ve managed to stay relevant in today’s society, while staying at the forefront of future developments. Every time we build a bridge, it must meet a current need – but since bridges have a service life of 100 years, we need to consider and integrate solutions that will remain durable over time.”
”This ability to contribute – with our customers and partners – to continuous development and cohesion in most parts of the world remains the core of COWI's activities. Today, it might be less about bridges, though, and more about securing the green transition and sustainable development of society. Nevertheless, the job is the same: Bringing our expertise into play and helping create innovative solutions. Indeed, by mixing science and technologies, we truly develop new, future-proof and long-lasting solutions that make the world a better place to live,” says Lars-Peter Søbye.
Henrik Garver, Managing Director of the Danish Association of Consulting Engineers (FRI), speaks to the contribution of COWI:
“Danish consulting and engineering companies have always played a part in developing Denmark and fostering development abroad. Consulting and engineering companies create value by designing solutions that not only act as infrastructure, but contribute to changing and developing society. That goes for bridges and roads, that goes for climate-mitigating and climate adaptation measures, that goes for buildings and supply infrastructure – and that goes for the new major agendas revolving around sustainability and green growth. That is how companies like COWI transform ideas and global promises into tangible projects that make a difference and work in practise. The results that we’re creating right now help put Denmark on the world map. And in that capacity, FRI companies like COWI make a real difference in the world and in Denmark.”
One of the new projects plotting COWI's course into the future is the Danish partnership with, among others, Ørsted, Mærsk and Copenhagen Airports which will develop a power-to-X production facility. When completed the hydrogen and e-fuel production plant will be able to supply 250,000 tonnes of green fuel for aircraft, ships and lorries. This is the type of co-creation we need if we are to bring about the green transition, says Lars-Peter Søbye, who has also placed modern technologies like AI, Internet of Things and machine learning high on the company’s agenda.
Today, the company numbers around 6,500 employees at more than 20 locations across the world, the head office being in Lyngby.