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Ambassador program makes MVA big in Japan

The first ambassadors of the Medicon Valley Ambassador Programme have only worked in each other's countries for six months. But they have already made a significant difference for their sister clusters.
Since it was founded a decade ago, Medicon Valley Alliance has had many visitors from other countries and cluster

organizations, who during their stay in the region have stated that they would like to start cross-border cooperation. However, these intentions often do not become more than

an idea, and are fast forgotten when the visitors return to their home countries. This experience gave birth to the idea for a program where both parties of a collaboration would have someone anchored permanently in the other country.

“We wanted to do something unique and since we believe that growth is generated through cooperation we came up with the idea of a global exchange”, says Stig Jørgensen.

Within the Medicon Valley Ambassador Programme,

representatives from 12 regional clusters will move to Medicon Valley and stay there for at least three years. Simultaneously,

ambassadors from the Øresund area will be embedded into the host cluster organization abroad. In that way, the

ambassadors would facilitate a two-way communication

channel between MVA and the rest of the world. The cost of having an ambassador from Medicon Valley living in a

foreign cluster is approximately DKK 1.4 million per year. MVA is financing the costs for their ambassador while

the corresponding cluster will have to finance the person they send to the Øresund region. Since it requires quite a

large sum of money, the founders of the program had to investigate whether any sister cluster was interested in the

exchange before the program was launched.

“We did a poll in a group of countries and were met with tremendous interest. The reaction was that the idea is so simple, yet nobody had thought of it before”, says Stig Jørgensen.

And since the launch of the program this summer, the success has been obvious, according to the CEO of MVA.

“There is no doubt that this concept is working. Our ambassador in Japan has already made contacts that no one else has been able to make. If the ambassadors we send to the other countries can do the same thing as he has, we will get all the money back that we have put into this project,”

says Stig Jørgensen.

The original plan was to start the program with the eastern part of the globe first in countries like Japan, China, India and Korea and then move on to England, Switzerland, and the USA.

“Being a comparatively rather small player in this field we felt that we would need some proof of concept for this program before we deployed it to the rest of the world,” says Stig Jørgensen.

The ultimate goal of the program is to send out 12 ambassadors in total from MVA before the end of 2012. In total this will cost DKK 65 million. To finance this, hopefully Region Skåne, Region Huvudstaden and Region Sjælland will contribute Stig Jørgensen with DKK 10 million while an additional 10 million have already been donated by private companies. The rest of the money needed will hopefully

come from the national governments.

“The program provides the member companies with a service for going global that they do not normally have. This is especially important for small companies that need to grow since it helps them find international partners, but also for universities.” says Stig Jørgensen.

In the long run perspective, regional players like Stockholm-Uppsala Life Science and Göteborg Bio may have the opportunity to connect to the ambassador program by sending an ambassador to Medicon Valley. Regions within Finland, Norway and Iceland will hopefully also be included,

permitting the Nordic countries to work as an entity with the rest of the world.

“The Nordic countries cannot compete with the rest of the world when it comes to tax or cost of living. But we are good at cooperating with each other and that can give us competitive advantage on a global level,” says Stig Jørgensen.
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