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Tougher competition as the Novo Nordisk Foundation broadens its programme

Søren Nedergaard has worked with innovation at the Danish Government Offices and the University of Copenhagen. Today, he is COO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, which has recently broadened its programme for leading innovators in medical research to apply to the entire Nordic region.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has previously supported research outside Denmark, including in Sweden, but until now, the grants for distinguished innovators have been exclusively for researchers in Denmark. However, this is changing this year.

In February, the foundation announced that it was broadening its programme, allowing researchers throughout the Nordic region to participate.

“The main reasons are that we wish to get even more applications with high quality and excellence, and we also wish to support innovation in all Nordic countries,” says Søren Nedergaard, COO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

This year, a total of DKK 60 million, corresponding to SEK 83 million, will be distributed to researchers in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. In addition to the financial support, the beneficiaries receive scientific and legal advice. The last day for this year’s applications was 9 March.

How was the interest?

“We are incredibly pleased with the response. Outside Denmark, most applications came from Sweden, which will result in tougher competition for Danish researchers than in previous years, as we now have more applicants in total.”

Søren Nedergaard has previously been Head of the Rector’s Secretariat at the University of Copenhagen, and before that, he worked at the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. In September, he will be one of the speakers at The Future of Swedish & Danish Life Science.

What will you talk about?

“It is important for us to support the transition from strong academic research at universities to innovations that reach the market, and this is one of the topics I will address. I will also talk about the challenges in the region and about big data, which is a priority area for us.”

As usual, the Future of Swedish & Danish Life Science will be held at the premises of Medicon Village in Lund, and the theme of the meeting is to merge and strengthen Swedish and Danish life science.

Medicon Valley consists of life science companies, universities and hospitals in Greater Copenhagen and southern Sweden. About 60,000 people are employed in the life science sector in the region.

During the time when Søren Nedergaard worked for the Danish Government, he was stationed in the tech mecca Silicon Valley in California for three years.

What can Medicon Valley learn from Silicon Valley?

“We must learn to create practical programmes so that people from the academy can test their innovative ideas, but we need to do it differently than in Silicon Valley. As we have a different culture, authorities and stakeholders need to take a larger and more active role here. Silicon Valley has a very dynamic system and a culture where the academy meets the market with greater access to venture capital, so the conditions are different.”

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