The Menlo Park Laboratory: A Factory of Ideas


The Menlo Park Laboratory is an incubator of ideas, bringing together a group of skilled and resourceful people from different productive fields of society. The purpose is to generate alternative, creative and concrete ideas through interaction and the mixing of experience, skills and an innovative approach. Menlo Park is an attempt to break barriers between business, professional specialisations, technology, art and politics, and through a shared challenge inspire new ways of thinking, acting, networking and collaborating within a concrete field or area.  

Menlo Park was founded and developed in Aarhus, Denmark in 2013 by Mikael Bak and Kim Barba and has conducted several think tank laboratories in various fields.

The Menlo Park Growth Think Tank 2017-18 was established and conducted on the initiative of the Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium in Holstebro in collaboration with Menlo Park. It was financed by the Færch Foundation and the Municipality of Holstebro. Its purpose was to foster “growth” in the region of Western Jutland through new initiatives, types of collaboration and activity not defined only from an economic perspective. Mikael Bak (lawyer), Kim Barba (entrepreneur) and Per Kap Jensen (cultural manager) were responsible for the laboratory

The thirteen members of the Think Tank were chosen after careful consideration and personal interviews amongst 150+ candidates. The personal interview is important as it is the members’ personalities, personal strengths, collaborative qualities and interaction which generate the right forum, spirit and motivation to think unorthodoxly in a committed environment. All candidates had some kind of connection to the region. They were all ages, male and female, different ethnicities and from all walks of life and fields. Their professional background was: youth activist, project leader in a foundation, designer, architect, stand-up comedian, lawyer/startupper, ecological farmer, museum leader, factory owner/businessman, leader of a Talent Academy, marketing expert, university professor in robot technology.

Five meetings were held over twelve months at atypical locations. The meetings ran over two days. An afternoon and evening session, and a concluding morning session. At the end of each meeting a short list of generated ideas was drawn up. At the end a full list was published.

The list included 107 ideas and projects concerning eight different fields: Western Jutland in the world - New forms of collaboration - Life stages in western Jutland (children, adolescents, adults, elderly people) - Solutions for the use of the newly shut down slaughterhouse within a vision of Holstebro in 2040 - Western Jutland Experimentarium - Nature and food - Lack of education as a resource.