Grafik: Kristoffer Lohse - Reach Media. Source: Statistics Denmark and SCB/Statistics Sweden and Riksbanken

Denmark’s Stronghold in the Life Sciences

Restructuring and growth set the tone for Danish and Swedish life science, particularly in the Medicon Valley region that crosses Øresund. In recent years, the supporting structure for the life sciences, which is both innovative and promotes exportation, has undergone important developments.

The conditions are ripe for the life sciences to become a sector with a stabilising effect through the next recession. In fact, employment and job security in Medicon Valley is on the rise. The latest statistical evidence (2017) shows that there were 44.000 employees in Medicon Valley.

Its main life science municipality is Gladsaxe, where 8.600 citizens are currently employed in the industry. This is home to Novo Nordisk’s headquarters and large facilities, as well as its sister company, Novozymes. The second largest municipality is Copenhagen, where there are 6.400 employees in companies including H. Lundbeck, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, and Genmab. Closely following Copenhagen – with 6.000 employees – is Ballerup, where the headquarters for Leo Pharma and Novo Nordisk facilities are located.

Grafik: Kristoffer Lohse // Reach Media. Source: Statistics Denmark and SCB/Statistics Sweden and Riksbanken

Regarded as a life science hub, Ballerup’s ambition is to attract more companies to their ecosystem. The aim is for it to grow continuously and to tap into the federal government’s ambitions for the entire Danish landscape. According to Jette Margrethe Rau, director of business development in Ballerup Municipality:

“The last bit of land will be established as a new business and residential area, where we want to attract different kinds of co-working spaces and lab facilities. There will be a co-existence with universities and venture capital with this particular focus. We want to recruit start-ups and SMEs globally, in cooporation with med- and biotech companies and accelerator programs, and to provide close access to the ecosystem for investors.”

Rau points out that there are already highly qualified personnel in the area, and that this is valuable for both the labour force and networking efforts: “With all the bridging work that will take place in the years to come, now is the time for companies to move to Ballerup – to be part of a still-growing network and funding system.”

It is worth noting that Ballerup Municipality is heavily investing in a new business zone west of the city, Kildedal. Novo Nordisk is among the companies to move offices to the new Kildedal area. Going forward, Ballerup is poised to establish a life science stronghold by analysing what is already present in Greater Copenhagen’s ecosystem. In Raus words:

Grafik: Kristoffer Lohse – Reach Media. Source: Statistics Denmark and SCB/Statistics Sweden and Riksbanken

“We are able to fill in gaps that can make Denmark an even stronger nation within the life science domain. That is why we are spending a lot of time forming networks and partnerships with the right institutions and companies. Although the exact details are still shaping up over the coming months, a strong international profile and strategic partnerships are critical.

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Denmark’s Life Sciences Exports Achieve Record High Levels

Denmark and Sweden’s life sciences exports are at an all-time high. Doubling over the past 10 years, Danish life sciences exports are now worth close to 106 billion DKK. The country’s life sciences exports now account for more than 15 per cent of Denmark’s total exportation of goods; this is the highest share recorded between 2008-2018. Keeping pace, Swedish life sciences exports achieved a record high after rising 10.6 per cent in 2018 alone. This trend is expected to continue into 2019, as new figures from Statistics Denmark show that the pharmaceutical industry’s share of industrial production is hovering at 20 per cent. And, exports of medicinal products, especially in the second quarter of 2019, have grown almost twice as fast as other European countries.

Grafik: Kristoffer Lohse – Reach Media. Source: Statistics Denmark and SCB/Statistics Sweden and Riksbanken

After a rather weak 2017, marked by little growth, Danish life sciences exports rose significantly in 2018 – increasing by 7.7 per cent.

As Denmark’s largest export market, life sciences exports to the United States in 2018 were valued at 28 billion DKK, a 21 per cent increase compared to 2017. After the US, China is the industry’s largest export market. Medicinal products and devices worth 8.7 billion DKK were exported to the Chinese market, albeit the increase from 2017 – 1 per cent – was minimal. Yet, when viewed from a long-term perspective, exports to China have risen substantially. The average annual growth between 2008-2018 was 23 per cent.

Beacons of Medicon Valley

Pharmaceutical companies with existing or former headquarters in the Capital Region of Denmark dominate Medicon Valley’s largest groups of pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies. The four major players  – Novo Nordisk, Lundbeck, Ferring, and LEO Pharma – and the foundations that own them, have acted as venture capital investors and the bedrock for many researchers in the region. Since the 1990s, a number of biotechnology companies have emerged, including Genmab, Zealand Pharma, Bavarian Nordic, and Symphogen in Denmark, as well as Alligator Bioscience and Camurus in Skåne.

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