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Q&A: Niels Abel Bonde, new Chairman of Medicon Valley Alliance

The General Manager of Novo Nordisk Sweden has been elected new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Medicon Valley Alliance (MVA).

Niels Abel Bonde will formally assume office following the Ordinary General Meeting tomorrow, 19th of April. He will replace Søren Bregenholt, CEO of Lund-based Alligator Biosciences, who has held the chairmanship since 2015 and has decided to step down.

NLS asked Niels Abel Bonde about his new role, about Medicon Valley’s current challenges and opportunities, and about combining strengths in the Nordics.

Congratulations! What are you most looking forward to working with in your new role?

“Thanks. I’m quite humble and looking forward to pick up the gauntlet and chair the board of a binational Swedish-Danish organisation such as MVA and to contribute with my experience and expertise. Both Medicon Valley as a region and our organization, MVA, are on a positive trajectory. Together with the MVA team my priority will be to develop and strengthen the Swedish-Danish life science cluster further building on the great work done for the last 25 years, and make sure that these results are known and acknowledged by relevant decision-makers from both industry, academia and the regional and national political spheres.”

How will you work towards assuring that Medicon Valley, and Medicon Valley as a selling point, is explicitly included in both the Danish and Swedish national life science strategies?

“As smaller, strong nations, a national life science strategy in Sweden and Denmark is a good base and this base can only be stronger by having the Nordic perspective included as well. We have a long tradition as Nordic countries to work together. In MVA we will work to show the value of the cross-border collaboration in many areas and make this visible to respective governments.”

The Medicon Valley success story is simply too good not to push as a selling point for both Danish and Swedish life science.”

“Given all the insecurity and turbulence in the world it’s natural to have a national focus. However, I think the COVID-19 pandemic showed that global and European collaboration is the way forward, and in my view the Medicon Valley success story is simply too good not to push as a selling point for both Danish and Swedish life science. If we put the competition aside for a moment, I believe promoting Medicon Valley is a win-win strategy.”

What challenges does the Medicon Valley region’s life science industry face and how should we handle them?

“There is a tendency that the Medicon Valley is forgotten when Copenhagen focuses on strengthening Copenhagen as a life science capital and Sweden has focus on Stockholm and Gothenburg. The focus on MVA is built on the triple helix between universities, hospitals and industry to create a strong business environment. These initiatives can further strengthen Medicon Valley in the light of a strong focus on growth and business.”

The regional investment promotion agencies Invest in Skåne and Copenhagen Capacity are already using the Medicon Valley story and facts and figures from MVA’s analysis work proactively as a selling point, and I think the national agencies could actually benefit from a similar more collaborative approach.”

“We need an even stronger integration of the labour market. We already have a lot of competencies going across the Öresund on a daily basis – this needs to continue, and we have to establish the region as an attractive destination for global talents and innovative businesses as well. The regional investment promotion agencies Invest in Skåne and Copenhagen Capacity are already using the Medicon Valley story and facts and figures from MVA’s analysis work proactively as a selling point, and I think the national agencies could actually benefit from a similar more collaborative approach.”

What do you believe is important in order to strengthen the Nordic life science region as a whole?

“We have many different hubs of research, innovation and business in the Nordics. Finland and Norway are often overlooked, but they actually have strongholds and centres of excellence which could contribute to a joint Nordic storytelling about life science in the region.”

Being the only organization literally bridging Swedish and Danish life science, we at MVA would like to facilitate a joint Nordic approach.”

“Denmark and Sweden are, however, the leading life science nations of the Nordics and as such I think we should take the lead. Any joint Nordic ambitions must have the Medicon Valley region and Stockholm Uppsala as the axis, and being the only organization literally bridging Swedish and Danish life science, we at MVA would like to facilitate a joint Nordic approach.”

Photo of Niels Abel Bonde: Ida Wang


Read the full interview with Niels Abel Bonde in our upcoming issue of NLS magazine, out May 12th!

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