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The Nordic Capital Landscape

Carsten Borring

Life science and biotechnology companies require a steady stream of capital and more are entering the stock exchanges to increase their visibility and find investors.

NASDAQ Nordic is now one of Europe’s largest biotech hubs, according to Carsten Borring, head of listings and capital markets at NASDAQ Copenhagen. Currently 28 biotech and healthcare companies have been listed this year and two-thirds of them are in the junior market of NASDAQ First North. Borring is the architect of the NASDAQ First North market in NASDAQ Nordic, which now has almost 300 companies in the junior market and about 700 in the main market. He recently discussed the Nordic capital landscape and the opportunities NASDAQ Nordic offers for both growing life science companies and investors.

Can you describe your responsibilities? 
”I bring new companies into the market, including those in the biotech sector from across the Nordic region. I want to make it easier for companies to be in the exchange and get the most out of being here.”

What are some of the current trends on the Nordic capital landscape? 
”Nordic markets are exceptional because of real retail involvement combined with big pension funds and an increasing number of non-Nordic investors; 60 percent of equity turnover is non-Nordic. These are three components that make up a strong liquid and very diverse investor landscape in the Nordics and enables smaller companies to raise capital. Biotech and life science holds a special place with Nordic investors and within the Nordic economies. A combination of university research centers, government funding and a strong public focus on biotech, research, medico and welfare technologies have created a strong medico and biotech hub in the Oresund region. We are one of the fastest growing exchanges in Europe; this year in mid-October, we had 88 IPOs in the Nordic region.”

What are the benefits of being listed on the NASDAQ for life science companies?  
”Before you go public, you have to think carefully. Life science companies need capital on a recurring basis. One could have a great venture capitalist on board, but that will not take you all the way. You need to think about, what’s next and what you want to achieve. The access to capital is one of the benefits of going public and the ability to raise capital. You can also broaden your shareholder base. Life science companies need to be global and this increases your need for visibility.
We have a very liquid market right now. Bavarian Nordic, a Danish biotech company went out in the market and raised $100 million USD in three hours.
If you are listed on a NASDAQ market, you are not closing any doors behind you, and other investors can find you. In a global world, you need incentives for people to work with you and your share becomes your currency.
At the same time, you have to fulfill rules and regulations and international accounting standards, but that fits well with life science companies. They need to follow regulations all the time and document everything they are doing. This is a perfect match for life science companies on the stock exchange.”

What advice do you have for small and mid-sized life science companies looking to raise capital?  
”They should know they have a lot of options. There is a lot of capital out there. They need to know what kind of journey they want to have; if they want to create a bigger company, they need to go out and get it. They need to take the opportunity when it arrives and right now the market is good. You can go out and raise money. Don’t close any doors, you still have many opportunities and it’s possible to get a lot of capital in. It’s very important to look outside your own region – being a company in the life science space you need to stay on top of all trends and research globally. The same goes for investors.”
 Photo of Carsten Borring: Peter Brinch