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Swedish and Danish life science is built on strong foundations

Anette Steenberg and Søren Bregenholt

Denmark and Sweden are the two leading life science nations of the Nordics, and both countries rank in the top-10 of most innovative countries in the world1. Coming together in the Medicon Valley region around Øresund they have created the largest, most vibrant, and most attractive life science cluster in the European Union.

Although this is not the result of a political master plan in neither country it is no coincidence either! Specific research innovations and patents, public private partnerships, academic excellence, and remarkable individual discoveries facilitated by globalization, global trends and political framework conditions are all crucial bits and pieces, which have helped pave the way for our current performance and ranking. In the Medicon Valley region a single piece of infrastructure – the Øresund Bridge – not normally associated with life science deserves to be explicitly mentioned as it is a prerequisite for regional collaboration regardless of industry.

“An often somewhat neglected or underestimated element in the success story is the crucial role of a number of specific foundations dedicated to fund both basic and advance research and innovation and business development within life science.”

An often somewhat neglected or underestimated element in the success story is the crucial role of a number of specific foundations dedicated to fund both basic and advance research and innovation and business development within life science. The Danish Lundbeck Foundation is behind the world’s largest brain research prize and with their LF Professorships and LF Postdocs they support research development centred on new, ground-breaking science and novel basic CNS-related research. Swedish Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is focusing not only on natural science and technology in general, but also specifically on medicine and medical technology. They are involved in programs aiming at slowing down Parkinson’s disease, a National Program for Data-Driven Life Science, programs related to advanced stem cell therapy research etc. The Danish LEO Foundation supports skin disease research and offers research grants within dermatology and the Swedish Mats Paulsson Foundation for Research, Innovation and Community has been a game changer in the life science ecosystem in Skåne with their decision to fund the Medicon Village science park.

“The crucial future role of the foundations – especially the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Wallenberg Foundation –  is one of the key topics on the agenda when MVA celebrates it Annual Summit and 25th anniversary in Copenhagen 7th of November.”

Last but certainly not least, Danish Novo Nordisk Foundation has for decades poured and continue to pour billions into life science research not only within diabetes and related fields but also and increasingly supporting life science research and innovation in both the Nordics, Europe and the rest of the world. The already significant contributions are expected to grow and the existence of the very successful BioInnovation Institute incubator in Copenhagen testifies to the during effect and legacy of Novo Nordisk Foundation funding. The crucial future role of the foundations – especially the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Wallenberg Foundation –  is one of the key topics on the agenda when MVA celebrates it Annual Summit and 25th anniversary in Copenhagen 7th of November.

The combination of the seeds sowed through the years by these foundations dedicated to life science and the attempts to connect and integrate South Sweden and Eastern Denmark is probably the reason why a city such as Malmö not traditionally associated with life science has materialized as a natural host city for the upcoming Nordic Life Science Days 2022. And making it truly Nordic, why Copenhagen will be the host in 2023. It makes so much sense to have such a conference circulating between the cities of Stockholm, Malmö and Copenhagen and it is also why we should continue to support organizations such as Invest in Skåne, Business Sweden, Invest in Denmark, Copenhagen Capacity and Wonderful Copenhagen working quite successfully to also attract international life science conferences and companies to our two countries. The fact that a global conference such as LSX Nordic has recently decided to relocate from Stockholm to Copenhagen describing the Medicon Valley as “the crucible of Scandinavian life sciences” furthermore testifies to the successful development and positioning of our bi-national region.

In sum, these combined efforts all help to put Medicon Valley and Denmark and Sweden firmly on the global life science map and make us an attractive hub for innovation and talent and thereby future growth, prosperity, and better treatment.

Text by Søren Bregenholt, Chairman, MVA and Anette Steenberg, CEO, MVA


Reference:

1: Top 10 most innovative countries in the world – Country Navigator

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