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Women’s Health – a new Nordic stronghold?

Women’s health has been under-prioritized for a long time. It should be no surprise that women are approximately one half of the world’s population. Yet remarkably, only 1% of healthcare research and innovation is invested in specific female conditions outside oncology.

At Medicon Valley Alliance we have decided to pick up the gauntlet and test the interest in developing our Danish-Swedish cluster into a frontrunner when it comes to women’s health. To do so, we have recently established a Medicon Valley Alliance Women’s Health Network, where we gather a coalition of the curious and willing for a series of meetings around key challenges relating to women’s health. The very well-attended kick of meeting in May and the October meeting focusing on endometriosis indicated that we are on to something.

We have recently established a Medicon Valley Alliance Women’s Health Network, where we gather a coalition of the curious and willing for a series of meetings around key challenges relating to women’s health.”

We are not alone in our aspirations. Companies such as Ferring, Astellas and Organon, and incubators such as the Bio Innovation Institute in Copenhagen and SmiLe in Lund, to name just a few, are among the many stakeholders – organizations and individuals – who have not only welcomed this initiative but offered to contribute to and support our ambition.

The Women’s Health Network will not only address specific female conditions, however, but will also be a central forum for more structural gender biases. It will for instance also embrace knowledge-sharing and discussions related to the under-representation of women’s participation in clinical studies (cancer, cardiovascular and neurological diseases, etc.) and hence lack of knowledge about symptoms, late and incorrect diagnosis, wrong dosage of medicine and wrong treatment and lack of knowledge in prevention. It will also address the lack of medical equipment, implants etc., designed for women’s bodies, specific female conditions (endometriosis, infertility, osteoporosis, menopause etc.), as well as the general lack of knowledge, focus, research funds, entrepreneurs/start-ups, and investors within the entire area.

It will for instance also embrace knowledge-sharing and discussions related to the under-representation of women’s participation in clinical studies and hence lack of knowledge about symptoms, late and incorrect diagnosis, wrong dosage of medicine and wrong treatment and lack of knowledge in prevention.”

Sweden and Denmark are already global frontrunners within infertility and reproduction, which is a part of, but of course not exclusively related to, women’s health. Obviously the problems related to reproduction and infertility can also be specifically related to male health. We have also successfully built regional core competencies within the microbiome field, which also covers aspects of women’s health. This is illustrated by both a small start-up company such as Gedea Biotech and a well-established company such as Ferring, which are active in both the field of microbiome and reproduction.

With a new bi-national English-speaking network, which can essentially serve as a meeting and marketplace for life science stakeholders specifically interested in women’s health, we hope to combine existing strongholds and help connect the dots between R&D, innovation, funding, public-private partnerships and create a fertile eco-subsystem within various aspects of women’s health.”

With a new bi-national English-speaking network, which can essentially serve as a meeting and marketplace for life science stakeholders specifically interested in women’s health, we hope to combine existing strongholds and help connect the dots between R&D, innovation, funding, public-private partnerships and create a fertile eco-subsystem within various aspects of women’s health. We strongly believe that this somewhat overlooked aspect of life science will contribute to the realization and positioning of Medicon Valley as the most competitive and vital life science cluster in northern Europe, which is a core element of our mission. We also strive to make the world a better place, to the benefit of both healthcare in general and specifically female patients, who are currently not receiving the optimal treatment or preventive measures.

This column was originally written by Niels Abel Bonde, Chairman, Medicon Valley Alliance, for NLS magazine No 04 2023, out November 2023

Photo of Niels Abel Bonde: Ida Wang

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