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What If Institute


If you can imagine it, you can create it


About us

What If Institute is a non-profit organization with a mission to challenge the usual thinking and doing in society to make the world a better place. We help decision makers, organisations and planners rethink approaches and practices. We believe that the way towards a sustainable future is to unleash the human imagination.  

Our philosophy is simple. 

If you can imagine it, you can create it.

What might seem utopian at first glance might rock our minds and make us realise new ways to tackle climate change, migration, inequality, security, liveability, biodiversity loss or any other issue. It all starts by thinking out of the box, puncturing biases, being open, and releasing our imagination. 

Taking time to imagine is something we as humans do way too rarely. It might not be easy. But it's possible if you let us help you. 


We'd love to discuss how the What If approach might create value for your organisation.   

How We Work 

About us
How we work

Consulting & community Engagement 

Facilitating ideation, development and imagination processes


Testing new approaches through projects and partnerships

Reversing the continents

Address the biggest challenges of our time

kids & School


Engaging kids and schools in creating a more sustainable and liveable world

Talks and workshops

Invite us to speak at your next conference or team day

Our Story



Our Story

Our story began 20 years ago then Martin Spang Olsen and his father realised that the only way to solve climate change is to replant the Sahara Desert. Actually, it would not only solve climate change but also migration, poverty, drought, biodiversity loss and more. It may sound like utopia but it's actually possible to replant the Sahara if humanity decided to. 

That made Martin engage with scientists and researchers to explore what's actually possible and not - and why issues like climate change, inequality and biodiversity loss are not solved even when the solutions to these problems exist. Years later, Martin shared these thought with Nicolai who for years had been asking himself the same questions.  


Martin and Nicolai realised that many of today's problems are not solved simply because of the way we address them. We all tend to move into problem solving mode instead of approach the issues by imagining what kind of world and societies we really want - and from there create it.


Martin and Nicolai decided to establish the What If Institute to challenge the usual thinking and doing in society by including children, organisations, cities, decision makers, scientists and local communities in imagining and co-creating tomorrows sustainable world.

Contact us

Founding team

Founding team

Let's have a coffee

Martin is an artist, musician, philosopher and film maker and always dreamt about reversing the continents and replanting Sahara. Nicolai is an global entrepreneur driven by green transition, social inclusion and global collaboration and worked with projects in more than 40 countries worldwide. With What If Institute they now work with a long list of partners including scientists, cities, schools, organisations and individuals.

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Nicolai Sederberg Rottbøll

"That little question: “what if” rocks the boat and reminds us that there are other ways forward"


+45 29 49 45 61

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Martin Spang Olsen

"What we feel and sense defines our world. Keep dreaming - and be good at it”


+45 22 39 05 30

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