Novo Nordisk Foundation Magazine 2016

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Telephone: +45 3527 6600


Novo nordisk foundation Tuborg Havnevej 19 DK- 2900 Hellerup DEnmark



Research is the source of new knowledge, new ideas and new solutions. With Denmark as the focal point, the Novo Nordisk Foundation seeks to promote research, education and innovation within the health and biological sciences. The Foundation thus supports the development of a knowledgebased society that contributes to long-term economic activity and job creation for improving general health and welfare.




In 2015, the Novo Nordisk Foundation supported numerous researchers and scientific projects. Here are a few facts.

20% of all applicants for research funding received a grant from the Foundation.

60% of the scientific articles published in 2015 by the Foundation’s grant recipients were produced in collabor­ation with researchers abroad.

The Foundation received nearly 1900 applications.





Researchers who previously received a grant from the Foundation published 1600 articles in 2015.


Researchers who previously received a grant from the Foundation established 9 spin-out companies in 2015 based on their discoveries.

9 12% 12% of the scientific articles published in 2015 by the Foundation’s grant recipients stem from collaborations with private research companies.


DKK 1,200,000,000 was awarded by the Foundation in 2015.

NOVO NORDISK Foundation's 2015 grants at a glance NNF



ONE FOUNDATION TWO OBJECTIVES The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests and a history that goes back more than 90 years. The Foundation provides a stable basis for the companies in the Novo Group and provides grants for research and for humanitarian and social causes.

Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Novo A/S, the Foundation owns a controlling interest in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, which form part of the Novo Group. Novo A/S also has stakes in several other companies, primarily within the life sciences.

The Foundation’s commercial ambition is for the companies in the Novo Group to position themselves as internationally recognized and significant actors for combating disease and for improving the use of natural resources.

The Foundation has two objectives – one commercial and one societal:

The Foundation awards grants that mainly support scientific purposes and uses its independence and flexibility to promote worldclass research, innovation and education, primarily in biomedicine and biotechnology in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. The Foundation’s ambition is to contribute to ensuring that the Nordic region develops and is recognized as an international powerhouse in the health sciences and biotechnology. Historically, the Foundation has awarded a total of DKK 8.4 billion (€1.1 billion) for public research and other purposes allocated over approximately 11,000 grants.

1: to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities conducted by the companies in the Novo Group; and

2: to support scientific, humanitarian and social purposes.

The vision of the Foundation is to contribute significantly to research and development that improves the health and welfare of people.


The Board of Directors of the Foundation is responsible for the overall management, strategic planning and the organization of the Foundation’s activities. The Foundation’s commercial and grant-awarding a­ctivities are separate. The Novo Nordisk Foundation­awards grants, and its subsidiary Novo A/S manages the Foundation’s commercial activities.

The Novo Group comprises:


 Novo A/S;  Novo Nordisk A/S;  Novozymes A/S; and  NNIT A/S.

All the companies in the Novo Group must demon­strate that they are willing and able to make a targeted effort to meet the following criteria:

The Novo Nordisk Foundation and the companies in the Novo Group comprise the Novo Nordisk Foundation Group. All the companies in the Novo Group are committed to complying with a common set of values – the Novo Group Charter.

Company products and services make a significant difference in improving the way people live and work. The company is perceived to be an innovator – in technology, in products, in services and/or in market approach. The company is among the best in its business and a challenging place to work. The company delivers competitive financial performance.


Companies in the Novo Group therefore commit to: Open and honest dialogue with their stakeholders. Continuous improvement of: > financial performance > environmental performance > social performance Reporting in accordance with relevant internationally approved conventions.



The Foundation’s strategy

Increasing grants and assessing their impact The positive trend in the financial results of the companies in the Novo Group has enabled the Novo Nordisk Foundation to increase its grants substantially.

In 2015, the Foundation awarded nearly DKK 1.2 billion (€161 million) in grants and paid out DKK 914 million (€122 million), primarily for research. The amount paid out has thus doubled in the past 5 years. In 2016 and subsequent years, the Foundation will increase the funds paid out ­significantly. The Board of Directors of the Foundation has decided to increase the amount paid out for grants in 2016 to DKK 2 billion (€268 million) – to benefit research and society. “The funds paid out by the Foundation have mainly gone to support public s­ ector research within biomedicine and biotechnology at universities and hospitals in ­Denmark and the rest of the Nordic region. The ongoing ambition is for the Foundation to increase the grants for research in these fields,” says Sten Scheibye, Chairman of the Board of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. “The Foundation will focus its additional efforts on awarding grants that improve patient treatment and clinical research, such as the Foundation’s recently announced plans to award up to DKK 2.8 billion (€375 million) for Steno Diabetes Center ­Copenhagen, a new diabetes centre in the Capital Region of Denmark.” “Finally, the Foundation will significantly increase its grants for humanitarian and social causes,” says Sten Scheibye.





The Foundation’s strategy includes that world-class research can best be achieved by providing long-term funding for developing knowledge environments, including at universities and hospitals, at which top researchers and innovative and talented scientists have the best possible settings to enable them to carry out research of the highest quality."

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research at the University of Copenhagen is part of the Foundation’s cluster of research centres.

World-class research The Foundation’s ambition is to maintain excellence in the peer assessment of initiatives and applications within existing and new grant areas with the aim of supporting projects of the highest quality and world-class research.

“This goal strikes a fine balance between enabling the Foundation to increase its payouts significantly from the present level and enabling it to continue to consolidate and provide a stable basis for the Novo Group, a key element of the Foundation’s Articles of Association,” he says.

“The Foundation’s strategy includes that world-class research can best be achieved by providing long-term funding for developing knowledge environments, including at universities and hospitals, at which top researchers and innovative and talented scientists have the best possible settings to enable them to carry out ­research of the highest quality,” says Sten Scheibye.

As part of its obligation to be a strong owner of the companies in the Novo Group, the Board of the Foundation has resolved that it will always hold a significant reserve of liquid assets if the Foundation needs to provide new capital for companies in the Novo Group.

The Board of the Foundation decides the amount of funding paid out based on the finances of the Foundation, its consolidation potential and the feasibility of ensuring high quality. “The Board has established guidance that allows the Foundation to pay out up to 4% of its accessible assets in a given calendar year. As the Foundation’s assets are expected to grow in the ­coming years, the payouts can also be increased year on year,” says Sten Scheibye.

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The Foundation promotes collabor­ ation and interdisciplinary research.

Impact of research The increase in payouts carries with it a responsibility for assessing the impact of the grants awarded. The Foundation has therefore established a new unit tasked with analysing, documenting and publishing the impact of the Foundation’s grants on research and society based on recognized methods of analysis.

“The analysis enables the Foundation to calculate the societal impact of research and provide a specific idea of how research affects economic growth, productivity, private investment and job ­­creation,” says Sten Scheibye.

The Foundation’s strategic goals

Societal goals

With Denmark as the Foundation’s centre of gravity the prime focus is:  To promote world-class research and innovation in the medical,

biotechnological and natural sciences and help to foster a world-class education system

 To help to develop a knowledge-based society that contributes to

long-term economic activity and job creation for improving general health and welfare.

Commercial goals

 Be a strong owner of the companies in the Novo Group  Generate attractive investment returns for the Foundation on its

financial investment portfolio

 Make investments with the main goal of promoting knowledge

and world-class research

Goals for grant activities

 Strengthen biomedical and biotechnology research in selected fields  Fuel cross-disciplinarity  Advance individual scientific excellence  Spur imagination, inspiration and knowledge about science

and technology

 Build bridges between scientific discoveries and their commercial

applications  Achieve social and humanitarian impact

The Foundation’s assets available for grants Sten Scheibye at his office in Hellerup.

“This will result in greater knowledge about this field that can also benefit other foundations and research institutions.” “As a foundation, we want our activities to be transparent, and impact assessment will contribute to improving people's understanding of the Foundation’s work,” says Sten Scheibye. The first impact ­assessment results will be published in April 2016. STRATEGIC GOALS The Board has adopted a series of goals for the Foundation’s ­activities. The Foundation thus has an overall societal goal covering its activities as a whole. In addition, the Foundation has three strategic goals for its commercial activities and six strategic goals for its grant-awarding activities.

The Foundation’s grants and investments are carried out continually in accordance with the strategic goals. “The goals reflect the fact that the Foundation strives to optimize the awarding of grants, thereby helping to create a knowledgebased society that contributes to long-term economic activity and job creation with the aim of improving people’s health and welfare,” says Sten Scheibye.

At the end of 2015, the Novo Nordisk Foundation had accessible assets available for new grants and investments of DKK 54 billion (€7.26 billion). Accessible assets are defined as the assets not linked to the shareholding in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S or the capital set aside as reserves for the Foundation’s subsidiary companies. At the end of 2015, these r­ eserves amounted to DKK 29 billion (€3.93 billion). The Board of Directors assesses the need to adjust the reserves annually.

Annual grants awarded and paid out

DKK billion

Amounts awarded

Amounts paid out

2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016



The Foundation’s income

Novo Nordisk Foundation Group The Novo Nordisk Foundation awards grants for scientific, humanitarian and social purposes based on dividends received from Novo A/S. The income of Novo A/S originates from:  companies; and  other investments.






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The BoardS

The Board of Directors of the Novo Nordisk Foundation has nine members: six members elected under the Foundation’s Articles of Association, two of whom must have insight into the medical or natural sciences, and three employee representatives from Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S. Of the members elected under the Articles of Association, four are independent members as defined in the Recommendations on Foundation Governance prepared by the Committee on Foundation Governance. The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Foundation are also on the Board of Novo A/S. Blue circles indicate persons representing Novo A/S.

Sten Scheibye Chairman

Steen Riisgaard Vice Chairman

Bo Ahrén

Lars Fugger

Karsten Dybvad

Marianne Philip

Sten Scheibye Chairman

Steen Riisgaard

Göran Ando

Jeppe Christiansen

Per Wold-Olsen

Göran Ando Chairman

Jeppe Christiansen Vice Chairman

Bruno Angelici

Brian Daniels

Sylvie Grégoire

Liz Hewitt

Henrik Gürtler Chairman

Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen Vice Chairman

Heinz-Jürgen Bertram

Lars Green

Agnete Raaschou-Nielsen

Mathias Uhlén

Anne Marie Désirée J. Kverneland Asgreen Employee Employee Representative Representative

Lars Bo Køppler Employee Representative

Mary Szela

Liselotte Hyveled Employee Representative

Anne Marie Kverneland Employee Representative

Anders Hentze Knudsen Employee Representative

Lena Bech Holskov Employee Representative

Lars Bo Køppler Employee Representative

Birgitte Nauntofte CEO

CEO Vacant

Stig Strøbæk Employee Representative

Søren Thuesen Pedersen Employee Representative

Lars Rebien Sørensen CEO

Peder Holk Nielsen CEO



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The Novo Nordisk Foundation supports free and independent research of the highest quality. Researchers have full publishing freedom, and the research results belong to the researchers and the public research institutions.



The Foundation’s grants

The Novo Nordisk Foundation awards funds in areas that are specified in its Articles of Association – and especially for research within biomedicine and biotechnology carried out in public institutions in Denmark and the other Nordic countries.

Grants within seven themes The Board of Directors of the Foundation sets the grant strategy­and d ­ ecides all the awards. The applications for ­research grants are peer reviewed before a grant is awarded. Grants are awarded under seven themes:

6: Humanitarian and social causes

The Foundation supports recognized humanitarian and social causes that promote the health and welfare of people. 7: Innovation

1: Research centres

The Foundation supports the establishment and development of a cluster of prominent international research centres based at public research institutions in Greater Copenhagen. 2: Stand-alone grants

The Foundation awards funds for a range of stand-alone activ­ities. These include research projects covering a broad range of thematic areas and projects that are significant for research in the short and long term – including education, research and outreach projects. 3. Diabetes CENTER

The Foundation supports a research hospital within diabetes and is in the process of establishing Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen – a new major diabetes centre that will improve patient treatment and research within diabetes.

The Foundation supports the development of applicationoriented research discoveries that have commercial potential, with the aim of supporting the formation of new biotechnology companies in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. Good research practice All grants are awarded such that researchers can decide their research priorities and have full publishing freedom. No company in the Novo Group has preferential access to the research results funded by grants from the Foundation. Cornerstones oF the grant activities The Foundation bases its grants on a set of values expressed in four cornerstones: commitment, professionalism, respect and trust. The Foundation informs every recipient of a research grant about these. Further, grant recipients agree to abide by the Foundation’s standards for good research practice and thus to use the funding responsibly.

4. Open competition

The Foundation awards grants through calls for applications in open competition with the help of specially created expert committees. The grants are primarily for research projects, scholarships and research leader programmes in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. 5. Scientific prizes

The Foundation awards nine scientific prizes annually that ­honour and recognize individuals who have made outstanding research contributions or other research-related efforts.

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The Foundation’s active support of free and independent research should be viewed as supplementing governmentfunded research at public research institutions.

The Foundation’s grants for scientific purposes aim to facilitate the emergence of new, original frontline research in the Nordic countries and to develop dynamic international research environments that can attract and retain the very best researchers.

Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO, Novo Nordisk FOUNDATION



The pink stars denote centres in the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s cluster of research centres. The other symbols denote university hospitals, universities and research-based companies in the life sciences.

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By supporting the establishment and development of a cluster of outstanding research centres the Foundation’s ambition is to create a knowledge environment with infrastructure and research of the highest quality that can improve research in Denmark and position Greater Copenhagen as an international beacon within bioscience research and innovation.



Research Centre Cluster

international hub for bioscience Since 2007, the Foundation has awarded DKK 3.5 billion (€469 million) for establishing and developing a cluster of prominent research centres at public institutions in Greater Copenhagen.

The aim of the cluster is to contribute to improving research in Denmark. This will be achieved by: attracting the best researchers; promoting interdisciplinary collaboration; offering education in an international format; and producing world-class research that will showcase the centres at an international level. The Foundation supports the centres in the cluster for a period of at least 10 years, which provides a long-term perspective for research. This combined with substantial funding provides the centres with the opportunity to take on ambitious high-risk, high-gain research projects. Inspiration and collaboration The centre cluster is based in Greater Copenhagen, in which the University of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark and several university hospitals and research institutions are located. Several biopharmaceutical and biotechnology compan­ ies are also headquartered here. The research cluster's many fields of expertise offer a platform for cross-fertilizing ideas.

The centres collaborate actively with external partners. In the period 2011–2013, around 85% of the centres' publications were collaboratively produced with these partners. The researchers in the centre cluster also benefit from sharing knowledge and infrastructure, including highly specialized equipment. The result is synergy in the form of mutual inspir­ ation and collaboration, which the individual research groups could not otherwise achieve on their own. The cluster currently comprises four large research centres and a national biobank. The centres focus on basic research within (respectively) proteins, stem cells, metabolism and biosustainability. The cluster is expected to further expand in the coming years so that Greater Copenhagen can strengthen its reputation as a competitive hub for bioscience.

At the end of 2015, the center cluster employed 757 staff members and had a combined 1383 scientific publications.


SCIENTIFIC publiCationS (per year)



700 400

600 500


400 200

300 200


100 0

0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

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2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research

The vision for the centres in the Novo Nordisk Foundation research centre cluster is that they can contribute to solving such global challenges as diabetes and the depletion of natural resources. The centres have been established in partnership with public research institutions at which the centres are located.

The Center focuses on developing and applying integrative and state-of-the-art protein technologies to investigate the proteins and their role in biological processes underlying health and disease.

Foundation funding:

DKK 780 million (€104.7 million)

Current funding period:


Host institution:

Executive Director:

Staff members:

University of Copenhagen Jiri Lukas 138

Research staff recruited abroad: 61

Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research The Center explores the molecular mechanisms and gene-environment interactions that underlie causes of diabetes and obesity with the ultimate aim of contributing to the development of new ways of treating and preventing diabetes and obesity.

Foundation funding:

DKK 885 million (€119 million)

Current funding period:


Host institution:

University of Copenhagen

Executive Director:

Torben Klein

Staff members:


Research staff recruited abroad: 25

DANISH NATIONAL BIOBANK With a storage capacity of more than 30 million biological samples from the Danish health-care system that can be cross-referenced to nationwide registries, the Biobank provides scientists with unique opportunities and a national infra­structure for investigating why disease occurs and how to prevent and treat it.

Foundation funding:

DKK 118 million (€15.9 million)

Current funding period:


Host institution:

Statens Serum Institut

Executive Director: Mads Melbye Staff members:


The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability The Center develops novel and innovative technologies for cell-based production of a broad range of chemicals and pharma­ceuticals as a contribution to promoting the transformation from an oil-based chemical industry to a more sustainable bio-based industry.

Foundation funding:

DKK 1.11 billion (€148.3 million)

Current funding period:


Host institution:

Technical University of Denmark

Executive Director:

Bernhard Palsson

Staff members:


Research staff recruited abroad: 170

Novo Nordisk Foundation Section for Basic Stem Cell Biology The Section unites leading scientists within stem cell biology to understand how stem cells contribute to the formation and maintenance of organs and tissues and how their aberrant behaviour explains cancer and degenerative diseases such as diabetes.

Foundation funding:

DKK 585 million (€78 million)

Current funding period:


Host institution:

University of Copenhagen

Executive Director:

Henrik Semb

Staff members:


Research staff recruited abroad: 69



Meet a centre director


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Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research was established at the University of Copenhagen in 2007 with a 10-year grant of DKK 600 million (€80.7 million) from the Foundation. In 2014, following an evaluation by inter­ national experts, the Foundation awarded

the Center additional funding of DKK 180 million (€24 million) until 2019. The Center focuses on developing and applying integrated, ultra-modern protein technologies with the objective of investigating proteins and their roles in the biological processes that underlie health and disease.

Every week, researchers from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research meet for a Research in Progress seminar, with PhD and postdoctoral researchers taking turns to present their current research. Two presentations are made each week, followed by discussion.

INCREASING NEED FOR COLLABORATION “The seminars aim to make everybody aware of the research going on at the Center. When the researchers later meet in the hallway or elsewhere, they have a common basis for discussing and developing ideas that would not otherwise have arisen,” says Jiri ­Lukas, Professor and Executive Director of the Center. Jiri Lukas emphasizes that collaboration is the key to success because modern research has become much more complex. “The decisive factor is still bright minds: the talent of the researchers. But the complexity arises from the fact that the challenges are increasingly based on a very high analytical level, which can only be achieved by highly specialized personnel and very advanced instruments,” he says.

encourages interaction and collaboration between researchers with different types of expertise, which would not have happened in individual research groups. This creates added value for our research.” “The Center's structure and its long-term funding, which enables us to do daring things, are crucial for our opportunities to succeed,” says Jiri Lukas. Outstanding success As of the end of 2015 the Center has published 429 scientific articles since it was established in 2007.

“We share instruments between centres, which means that interaction slowly but surely will ­expand. Having opportunities to collaborate with researchers with expertise in allied fields will contribute to devel­oping and improving our research into proteins,” says Jiri Lukas. Faith in youth The weekly Research in Progress seminars contribute to collaboration and innovation. But they also teach young researchers to take responsibility.

This is also why, in Jiri Lukas’ view, the structure of the Center, which employs 138 staff members, is optimal for obtaining pioneering results.

An international evaluation concluded that “the Center has been an outstanding success in its brief existence” and that it was led by “world-class” ­researchers. Based on this, Novo Nordisk Foundation awarded the Center a new grant in 2014. The grant is intended to ensure that the Center can e­ xpand its leading technological position and further promote scientific collaboration projects – both internally and with external parties.

“I strongly emphasize encouraging young researchers to be independent as rapidly as possible,” says Jiri Lukas. “These young researchers have set up their own association, the Student and Postdoc Association (SPA), in which they don’t simply talk about their own research and development but also how the Center can make advances. Representatives of SPA participate in and provide input to the Center’s management meetings. This is really unique and valuable for us,” says Jiri Lukas.

“What differentiates us from many others is that we have assembled talented researchers from diverse fields within protein research and several complementary modern technologies under one roof. This

Current projects include collaborating with the ­Novo Nordisk Foundation Section for Basic Stem Cell Bio­logy on the Advanced Protein Imaging technology platform.

“This also provides young colleagues with insight into what it takes to be a research leader and prepares them for their future careers,” concludes Jiri Lukas.



Example of a research project

“You have your father’s eyes and your mother’s curly hair.” Families say this because science has shown that we constitute a mix of our parents’ genes. But parents may pass on more to their children than the genetic information contained in their DNA.

CAN A FATHER'S LIFESTYLE INFLUENCE THE HEALTH OF HIS CHILDREN? Associate Professor Romain Barrès and his r­e­search group at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research are examining whether a father’s lifestyle before conceiving his children can influence the children’s metab­ olic health. “We are investigating the mechanism by which lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity can influence the health of the next generations,” explains Romain Barrès. Recent studies have shown that mammals not only pass on their genes to their descendants but also additional information called epigenetic marks. And this information could be reprogrammed by the lifestyle of the parents-to-be. Influence on sperm cells In late 2015, the research group of Romain Barrès­published a thought-provoking study that compared the epigenetic marks in the sperm cells of 10 overweight versus 13 lean men. The results showed that sperm cells carry very different marks depending on the body weight of the donor. And the difference observed could be responsible for altered food behaviour in the offspring.

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“Our results suggest that the body weight of a father at the time of conception could be responsible for influencing the appetite and the food behaviour of his future children,” says ­Romain Barrès. The research group also investigated what happens when men lose weight after bariatric (weight-loss) surgery. Strikingly, just one week after the surgery, the epigenetic information of sperm cells had changed. These changes were even prominent a year later, with epigenetic marks involved in the control of appetite. “The study showed that environmental cues – in this case bariatric surgery – can change the epigenetic information contained in sperma­ ­ tozoa,” says Romain Barrès. Collaborative culture The study took five years to complete. Postdoctoral researchers Ida Donkin and Soetkin Versteyhe­are first authors. During the project, the group collaborated with other researchers at the Center and with physicians working in nearby hospitals. The group also regularly works with researchers in Sweden, the United States and Australia.

“The interdisciplinary collaboration within our Center has been instrumental for completing this study,” says Romain Barrès. Romain Barrès, who was born in France, left a position in Australia to become a Group Leader at the Center. He expects that 5–10 more years will be required to clarify whether the epigenetic information contained in sperm cells (which can be changed by lifestyle factors) is transmitted to the offspring. He thinks that this knowledge will open up new societal perspectives and may change the behaviour of prospective parents. “Our study shows that the epigenetic marks contained in sperm cells can change in response to environmental signals, but we haven’t investigated whether these modifications can actually be passed on to children.” “If lifestyle and environmental factors can influence the health of the next generation, men may take the opportunity to have a say on the health of their future children.”

Researchers Ida Donkin, Soetkin Versteyhe and Romain Barrès



cluster initiatives

Promoting scientific debate and education

In addition to supporting the research centre cluster, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has initiated and funded several activities that support and promote the research centre cluster. These include a conference series and a PhD programme.

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THE COPENHAGEN BIOSCIENCE CONFERENCES are scientific conferences held over four days that bring together top researchers and talented young people from around the world to d ­ iscuss the latest scientific results and opportunities for collaboration within a field of ­research. The purpose is to enable participants to build and expand their international networks and to exchange knowledge and ideas in order to strengthen their future research. The Conferences invite some of the world’s leading researchers as speakers. The Conferences are open to researchers at all stages of their careers. Attendance is by application, with a scientific committee selecting the participants. To promote a relaxed, trusting and open atmosphere, the number of participants at each conference is limited to 150–250. Each centre in the Foundation’s research centre cluster takes turns in arranging a conference. The Foundation pays for all accommodation, transport and meals during the Conferences. Participants cover their own travel expenses. No commercial activities or products and services are promoted. More than 1400 researchers have participated in the Conferences.

The talks were really amazing. The scientists were discussing their newest research in a very open way, and that allowed us to think in new directions that we had not thought of before."

Elly Tanaka, professor, Technische Universität Dresden, germany

THE COPENHAGEN BIOSCIENCE PHD PROGRAMME is a fully funded 4-year PhD programme that offers ambitious, talented students the opportunity to come to Denmark to complete a PhD education at a centre in the Foundation’s research centre cluster. The programme accepts 16 students annually. The Foundation’s aim in establishing the Programme, which begins in 2016, is to contribute to educating the next generation of top researchers and to promote interdisciplinarity. Another goal is for Denmark to be able to attract the most talented researchers to maintain and expand its strong positions within biomedicine and biotechnology. In addition to these initiatives, the Foundation also holds Cluster Days: half-day seminars that enable researchers in the cluster to meet and develop networks across the centres. The Foundation expects to initiate further activities in the coming years that can contribute to strengthening the research centre cluster.



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Stand-alone grants

Strategic innovation The Board of Directors of the Novo Nordisk Foundaton wants to launch and support activities that are located early in the research and innovation food chain or that contribute to strengthening educati on or increasing society’s interest in science.

In recent years, the Foundation has increasingly awarded grants for projects that contribute to encouraging young people’s inventiveness, interest and knowledge within science and technology and to stimulating them to pursue a career within the field. In 2015, the Foundation’s grants included DKK 9 million over five years for ­establishing the ScienceTalent Academy – a study programme that will inspire and engage talented upper-secondary school students in Denmark to improve their science skills through activities such as talent camps and a work-experience stay abroad. The programme will run in parallel with the regular school curriculum. The Foundation is also funding several science talent competitions, including Young Researchers and the European Union Science Olympiad (EUSO) in 2017. In addition, the Foundation has initiated two teaching prizes to recognize extra­ ordinary efforts in science teaching: the Novo Nordisk Foundation Science Teacher Prize and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Prize for Upper-secondary Schoolteachers. Broad range of themes The Board of the Foundation also gives priority to awarding grants for long-term, ambitious research projects within a broad range of thematic fields. In addition, the Foundation awards one-off amounts for projects that aim to permanently i­nfluence society in Denmark.

In many cases, the funding is carried out in association with other parties, both private and public. In 2015, the Board of the Foundation awarded DKK 10 million for establishing the first professorship in pharmacovigilance in Denmark. The assessment of pharma­ ceuticals on the market, including discovering and preventing possible side ­effects, is extremely important for protecting patients. The purpose of establishing the 5-year professorship is to strengthen research and education within the field, thereby contributing to establishing a new academic discipline.



Example of an education prize

Making science more exciting Wednesday morning in a science class at Trekronerskolen in Roskilde, and 22 boys and girls in 8th grade are busy assembling Lego bricks – or toys, as their teacher, Tommy Rasmussen, calls them. The bricks will become mini-programmable robots that can follow a wavy line with the help of a light sensor.

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You learn a language by speaking it – and you learn science BY USING and applying it.”


Much has changed since Tommy Rasmussen attended school. In his day, the natural sciences didn’t grab him. His 9th-grade physics exam question on Ohm’s law resulted in the young man barely scraping through.

“It’s great and motivating to know that other people consider what I do valuable,” says Tommy Rasmussen.

“When I became a teacher, I thought that it must be possible to make teaching more exciting,” says Tommy Rasmussen.

Fun and relevant teaching A straw poll of the students in the classroom reveals that it was not only the Prize jury that values Tommy Rasmussen’s teaching.

His idea and approach is that science teaching must be based on application-oriented problem-solving to get students excited and motivated.

“Tommy understands how to teach. His lessons are fun, different and always relevant. You never sit there and wonder ‘what can I use this for?’,” explains Kirstine Simonsen.

A LEARNING PROCESS He sees science as part of the learning process in a democratic society because students learn to organize experiments and investigations. This gives them the knowledge that enables them to make informed decisions about challenges they will encounter as adults.

Carlos Krapper adds: “He has a knack for making things interesting. The teacher in lower-secondary school has a big influence on which study programme we choose in uppersecondary school.”

“When teaching has these qualities, it also appeals to girls. They’re hooked because we are solving real-life problems. For example, we did a project in which students hypo­the­ sized what would happen if they solely ate chocolate for a whole day. They subsequently tested their hypotheses and regularly measured their blood sugar levels and tested their reactions and physical stamina,” explains Tommy Rasmussen. Tommy Rasmussen’s determination to make teaching exciting has now been fully vindicated. In 2015, he was chosen as one of the first two recipients of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Science Teacher Prize that recognizes extraordinary efforts in science teaching at primary and lower-secondary schools in Denmark. Two Prizes are awarded annually: one for eastern Denmark and one for western Denmark.

In addition to the accolade, Tommy Rasmussen received a personal award of DKK 50,000, and Trekronerskolen received DKK 200,000 for developing the teaching of ­science. The school invested DKK 130,000 of the funds in the set of robots. This equipment will contribute to creating more relevant teaching for all students. As the coordinator for science teaching in the Municipality of Roskilde, Tommy Rasmussen has wide-ranging contact with other science teachers. He has bought an extra set of robots that can be lent to other schools, and the prizewinner already plans to arrange a competition in which students compete in inventiveness. “This could perhaps make some waves,” he says.



Example of a partnership

CANCER PATIENTS FIND A WAY How do you prevent cancer patients deteriorating physically, emotionally and socially after being diagnosed or during the treatment process? This was the key question when the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Danish Cancer Society each awarded 5-year DKK 15 million grants for establishing the Centre for Integrated Cancer Rehabilitation (CIRE) in 2012.

“We wanted to study how to develop and test initiatives for rehabilitating cancer patients who vary in diagnosis, sex and age. We also wanted to ensure research-based evidence for the quality of the rehabilitation offered,” says Lis Adamsen, professor, nurse, sociologist and Director of CIRE.

sional clinical teams systematically advise, guide and supervise the patients, so that 70–97% get physically active during treatment. We have shown that being physically active together with other patients has positive emotional and social effects for all groups involved,” says Lis Adamsen.

CIRE includes interdisciplinary and interprofessional collabor­ation between 28 researchers and clinicians from the Department of Public Health of the University of Copenhagen; Rigshospitalet; ­Herlev Hospital; and the City of Copenhagen. The research identifies the needs of cancer patients, develops interventions, carries out randomized controlled trials and combines quantitative and qualitative research methods. The Centre’s 12 research projects involve groups of patients whose rehabilitation had not previously been investigated.

A new research initiative under CIRE offers children with cancer who are admitted to Rigshospitalet a visit from their healthy class­ mates. These visits bring a touch of normality to hospital life and help to stabilize the daily lives of the children who are ill. This also reduces the mental burden on the children.

THREE KEY PRINCIPLES Together with the personnel in the clinical hospital departments, CIRE has developed the EEX-ACT concept, which is based on three key principles:

E for early: intervention during chemotherapy no later than 6 weeks following diagnosis;

EX for exercise: physical activity 2–4 times a week for 12 weeks; and

ACT for activation: activating and involving the people with cancer.

“The results showed that cancer patients can be motivated to begin rehabilitation immediately after being diagnosed. The interprofes-

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TRAIN WHILE YOU WAIT Another example at Rigshospitalet and Herlev Hospital is leukaemia outpatients training physically in the hospital departments during the waiting time between having a blood test and starting treatment. This strengthens their physical and emotional well-being and has reduced the side effects of treatment.

“People’s overall life situation can be bolstered, even if they have brain or advanced lung cancer with a very stressful course of ­illness,” says Lis Adamsen. All of CIRE’s projects have been carried out and gained international attention, including through 57 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals, 51 international presentations and eight international workshops. According to an external evaluation, the high success rate is a result of an excellent interprofessional research environment involving nurses, physiotherapists and doctors across the projects.

In the future, we would like to investigate whether we can transfer the rehabilitation principles we have applied to cancer patients to people with other diseases.� Lis Adamsen, professor, nurse, sociologist and Director of CIRE



The Foundation’s ambition in establishing a new major diabetes centre is to contribute to creating one of the world’s leading environments for treating people with diabetes that will also encompass clinical research and education.

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treatment for and Research on diabetes

LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS FOR OPTIMAL TREATMENT In 2015, the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Capital Region of Denmark announced plans to establish a new major diabetes centre – Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen.

The Center will be capable of delivering optimal ­evidence-based treatment of people with diabetes in the Capital Region of Denmark. The Center will also be an important driver in developing new treatment and prevention methods and teaching that will benefit everyone with diabetes in Denmark. To this end, the Foundation plans to award up to DKK 2.8 billion for establishing and operating the Center, which is intended to be as excellent as the best diabetes centres worldwide. “This is a unique opportunity to establish a completely new world-class diabetes centre in Copenhagen,” says Jannik Hilsted, Head of Steno Grants, Novo Nordisk Foundation. “Denmark has had a strong position within diabetology for many years. After August Krogh acquired the commercial rights to produce insulin in 1922, Denmark became a global centre for producing insulin and for research and education related to diabetes. We must protect this position.” “Further, few diseases affect as many people as diabetes. It is therefore natural that the Foundation is taking this initiative now,” says Janik Hilsted. Globally, approximately 380 million people have ­diabetes. In Denmark, the number exceeds 320,000. The new Center will be built at Herlev Hospital and will have ­annual capacity to treat more than 11,000 ­patients with diabetes of varying types.

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“Experiences from major diabetes centres abroad show that the centres’ diverse activities enable them to offer better and more coherent care pathways while bolstering research opportunities and thus the quality of treatment,” according to Janik Hilsted. Systematizing treatment An important aspect of the vision for the new Center is modernizing and systematizing the current treatment methods.

“Today, much is known about treating people with diabetes. We know how to screen for late complications such as eye diseases and nervous system diseases, but we do not have a model that ensures that everyone is screened. We are developing a programme that will ensure that this screening is broadly and systematically implemented, thereby benefiting everyone concerned,” says Jannik Hilsted. The new Center will strive to stimulate collaboration with other hospitals, universities and other public and private actors to optimize treatment for everyone with diabetes and the embedding of joint research projects. Among other initiatives, Steno Partner units will be established in the acute care hospitals in the Capital Region and at Rigshospitalet to ensure the dissemination of knowledge. “The existing differences between hospitals will be minimized by sharing knowledge and standardizing treatment,” says Jannik Hilsted.

The AMBITION is to give a boost to all diabetes patients in Denmark." JANNIK HILSTED, HEAD OF STENO GRANTS, NOVO NORDISK FOUNDATION



treatment for and Research on diabetes

Another important goal in establishing the Center is to more closely integrate clinical practice and the research at a major diabetes centre – to benefit patients. “Diabetes affects all organs, and integrating the rest of the health-care system is therefore becoming increasingly important. Locating the Center in Herlev will ensure collaboration partners in the same place and thus remove the geographical barriers that can hinder successful treatment or research collaboration.” “For example, locating the Center at an acute care hospital means being able to manage the acute situations and comorbidities that might afflict people with diabetes, such as pneumonia.” “In research, we must exploit our already strong basic research environments. The clinical diabetology at the Center must interact with these research environments so that the discoveries they make can be applied to solving the problems of people with diabetes and vice versa,” says Jannik Hilsted, who stepped down as Chief Medical Officer at Rigshospitalet to become Head of Steno Grants at the Foundation.

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“I started in diabetology 40 years ago and have maintained contact with this field ever since. It is an exciting challenge to be involved in boosting an extremely important discipline and thereby contribute to futureproofing it and improving the conditions for patients.” A national initiative The Foundation views the establishment of the Center as one of several strands of a major initiative that may be extended to Denmark’s other administrative regions, with several diabetes centres being established throughout Denmark. “We are having an excellent dialogue with Denmark’s other administrative regions on establishing corresponding centres, and everyone appears very willing.” “The ambition is to use these centres and their collaborative relationships with the rest of the health-care system to boost everyone with diabetes in Denmark. This means that the benefits the centres create can be implemented nationally to benefit all patients,” says Jannik Hilsted.

From SDC til SDCC

Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen

The Foundation has supported the existing Steno Diabetes Center in Gentofte, currently Denmark’s largest diabetes centre, since it was founded as Niels Steensens Hospital in 1932.

The new Center will be able to treat more than 11,000 patients annually and will provide 24-hour coverage for the whole of the Capital Region in close collaboration with the acute care hospitals.

Currently owned by Novo Nordisk A/S, the new plan involves the ­Capital Region of Denmark assuming ownership of the Center. The experience and approach towards people with diabetes at the Steno Diabetes Center will comprise an important part of developing the Steno Diabetes Center Copen­hagen in Herlev. The new Center will have full freedom in treatment and research. The research results generated belong to the researchers and the public research institutions, with no requirement for preferential access.

The Center will be a specialist clinic focusing on people and the integrated treatment and prevention of all types of diabetes and its complications. The Center will also provide access to services such as: dietetics, physiotherapy, physical exercise and screening and treatment of complications related to the feet, eyes, kidneys, the nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the oral cavity.

The Center will be built at Herlev Hospital and is planned to be completed by 2020. The Foundation will support the construction of the Center and will contribute financially to the Center’s diabetes activities related to prevention, treatment, research and education and continuing education of general practitioners.

The Center will be a specialist clinic focusing on people and the integrated treatment and prevention of all types of diabetes.



The Foundation’s scientific committees or inter­na­tional panels peer review all applications for research grants before the Foundation awards them. This ensures that the Foundation awards grants to the best projects and applicants.

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The Foundation’s committees

Committee on Medical and Natural Sciences Research

Nordic Research Committee

The Committee implements the Foundation’s fellowships, research leader programmes and project grants within basic and clinical research on endocrinology and experimental physiology in the Nordic countries. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 116.85 million (€15.6 million).

The Committee implements the Foundation’s postdoctoral fellowships and major research programmes within general practice and family medicine in Denmark. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 27 million (€3.6 million).

Committee on Art History Research

Novozymes Prize Committee

Novo Nordisk Prize Committee

The Committee implements the Foundation’s projects within art history research. The projects must take place mainly in Denmark. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 2 million (€268,000).

The Committee selects a candidate to receive the Novozymes Prize of DKK 3 million.

The Committee selects a candidate to receive the Novo Nordisk Prize of DKK 3 million.

Committee on Exploratory Pre-Seed Grants

Committee on Biotechnology-based Synthesis and Production Research

Committee on Novo Nordisk Foundation Laureate Research Grants

The Committee implements the Foundation’s exploratory pre-seed grants. This initiative targets research communities in the Nordic countries and aims to accelerate the commercialization of application-oriented research findings and ideas within biomedicine and biotechnology. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 12 million (€1.6 million).

The Committee implements the Foundation’s grants for innovative research projects and postdoctoral fellowships related to basic research in biotechnology-based synthesis and production. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 43.4 million (€5.8 million).

The Committee implements the Novo Nordisk Foundation Laureate Research Grants and Young Investigator Awards, targeting promising research leaders from abroad who want to establish their research group in Denmark. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 160 million (€21.5 million).

Committee on Novo Nordisk FoUNDATION Challenge Program

Committee on Novo Nordisk FoUNDATION Interdisciplinary Synergy Programme

Committee on Art History Research ­– Mads Øvlisen scholarships

The Committee implements the Foundation’s scholarships, fellowships, research leader programmes and project grants within clinical and basic biomedical research in Denmark. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 121.75 million €16.3 million).

Two sub-committees implement the Foundation’s grants for research focused on finding solutions to key technological or health-related challenges based on themes determined annually. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 360 million (€48.3 million).

The Committee implements the Foundation’s grants for innovative, high-risk interdisciplinary research projects and postdoctoral fellowships with a biomedical and/or biotechnological objective. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 128 million (€17.2 million).

Committee on Nursing Research The Committee implements the Foundation’s project grants, support for co-funded PhD and postdoctoral fellowships and major programme grants within nursing research in Denmark. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 15 million (€2 million).

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Committee on General Practice anD Family Medicine ResearcH

The Committee implements the Foundation’s PhD and postdoctoral scholarships within art history, art and curating awarded to researchers affiliated with a university in Denmark. Total funds available in 2016: DKK 6.8 million (€0.9 million).

Grants in open competition

An open window to the world The Novo Nordisk Foundation has a long history of awarding grants for research projects based on applications in open competition.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation awards grants through calls for applications in open competition primarily for research within biomedicine and biotechnology. It also supports innovation, nursing research, general practice and family medicine research and research within art history and art. Grants are awarded primarily for research projects, scholarships, fellowships and research leader programmes. Over the years, the Foundation has increased the number of funding areas so that, today, the Foundation has a significant number of grant instruments. The Board of Directors of the Foundation has established a number of expert committees on which almost 50 experts serve, primarily from Denmark and the other Nordic countries to assist in the implementation of the grants. The Board decides the grant instruments and sets the annual budget for each grant, while the committees­

assess the applications received and identify the ­recipient of the individual grant within the framework established by the Board. ACTIVE RESEARCHERS The Committees are the Foundation's window to the research community. Committee members are active researchers: experts in their fields with a valuable overview of a research field, often supplemented by experience gained as members of research councils or other academic assessment committees.

The various committees are therefore very qualified to assess the quality, originality and feasibility of pro­ jects, thereby ensuring that the Foundation supports the best applications and applicants. The Foundation has guidelines to ensure that all applications are assessed impartially. The scientific quality, potential and feasibility of a research project determine whether a project receives a grant.



Grants in open competition





MAX Amount per grant (DKK)

Scholarships and Fellowships

Postdoctoral fellowships for research abroad – Endocrinology and metabolism

4 million

Postdoctoral fellowships for research abroad – Clinical or basic biomedical research

4 million

The Novo Nordisk Foundation pre-graduate scholarships


Visiting Scholar fellowships at Stanford Bio-X

4 million

Postdoctoral fellowships for research within biotechnology-based synthesis and production

2.5 million

Postdoctoral fellowships in general practice and family medicine

1 million

Mads Øvlisten PhD scholarships within art history and practice-based research

1.6 million

The Mads Øvlisen Postdoc fellowships

1.2 million

PhD scholarships in clinical nursing (co-funded)

1 million

Postdoctoral fellowships in clinical nursing (co-funded)

1 million

Investigator Grants

Hallas-Møller Investigator

11 million

Excellence project – Endocrinological research – Nordic countries

5 million

NNF Young Investigator Award

20 million 10 million

Advanced Grant – Nordic countries

Clinical Research Fellowship

5 million

NNF Laureate Research Grant

40 million

Project Grants

Exploratory pre-seed grants


Clinical and basic biomedical research

2.1 million

Endocrinological research and experimental physiology – Nordic Countries

3 million

Biotechnology-based synthesis and production research

3.5 million

Clinical nursing research

Pool of 1.5 million

Art history research


Research Programmes

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Challenge Programme

60 million

Tandem Programme – in clinical and basic biomedical research

10 million

Interdisciplinary Synergy Programme

15 million

General Practice in an Integrated Healthcare System – Optimal Care Pathways

25 million

Nursing Research Programme

7.5 million

The Foundation’s committees focus on identifying the most talented researchers and the best research projects. The Foundation awards a range of grants annually to individual researchers based on the applications received. The Foundation’s open-competition grants include project grants, scholarships and research leader programmes. Some grants target researchers at a specific stage in their career; other grants are open to everyone.

Early career



4 years

Biomedical research

4 years

Biomedical research

1 year

Biomedical research

4 years

Interdisciplinary research

3 years

Biotechnology research

2 years

General practice and family medicine research

3 years

Art history

2 years

Art history

3 years

Nursing research

3 years

Nursing research

5 years

Biomedical research

5 years

Biomedical research

7 years

Biomedical and biotechnology research

5 years

Biomedical research

5 years

Biomedical research

7 years

Biomedical and biotechnology research

4–12 months

Biomedical and biotechnology innovation

1–3 years

Biomedical research

1–3 years

Biotechnology research

1–3 years

Biotechnology research

1–3 years

Nursing research

1–3 years

Art history research

6 years

Biomedical research

3 years

Biomedical research

3 years

Interdisciplinary research

5 years

General practice

5 years

Nursing research

Intermediate career

Late career



Meet a committee chairman

Is it novel? Will it make a difference? Is it feasible? “An excellent application has two important attributes: quality and originality.” Lars Fugger, Chairman of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Committee on Medical and Natural Sciences Research highlighted these facts when he went on a tour of Denmark’s universities and hospitals to inform potential applicants about the Foundation’s application rounds and to answer questions about the application process. “A good application describes an original idea in a way that a reader can easily understand. Further, the applicant must explain how the described project can be implemented in practice,” said Lars Fugger. EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE Lars Fugger, who is Professor of Neuroimmunology at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences of the University of Oxford and a consultant at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, has extensive experience in assessing research applications. In addition to being a member of the Committee on Medical and Natural Sciences Research for 10 years and chairing it for the past 2 years, Lars Fugger was a member of the Danish Council for Independent Research, Medical Sciences for 6 years, 4 as Chairman. He also regularly assesses international applications.

When the Foundation receives an application for research funds following calls for applications in open competition, experts in one of the Foundation’s committees always assess the application before it is approved or rejected.

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“The Committee on Medical and Natural Sciences Research clearly emphasizes applications having an objective related to the medical sciences – but this scope is rather wide. A grant awarded by the Foundation is a mark of quality, so we definitely emphasize high-quality research,” says Lars Fugger. “We receive many applications – and many of them excel, so competition for grants is fierce.” PROJECTS WITH GREATEST POTENTIAL To facilitate the application process the Foundation’s website provides comprehensive guidelines and helps applicants with their applications.

“We look for the projects that have the greatest potential to improve the understanding and treatment of disease,” says Lars Fugger. “We believe that research with a transformative impact often has an element of risk that never­theless rests on a solid foundation. We therefore prefer that high-risk projects of high quality are supported b ­ ecause these are the ones that decisively take ­research to a higher level," says Lars Fugger. He considers himself privileged to follow the trends in Danish research through the ideas presented and to participate in setting the course and encouraging research.

Our Committee is aware that researchers often need to navigate through uncharted waters to reach their objectives." Lars Fugger, Chairman, the Novo Nordisk Foundation Committee on Medical and Natural Sciences Research



Meet a grant recipient


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Like walking on shattered glass. This is how people with peri­ pheral neuropathy describe one of their symptoms. This nervous system disorder affects up to half of the world’s approximately 380 million people with diabetes. Despite the pain and its high prevalence, peripheral neuropathy is a largely unresearched field. Troels Staehelin Jensen of Aarhus University wants to change this through his International Diabetic Neuropathy Consortium (IDNC) project. “People with diabetes have just had to put up with neuropathy­ and the associated pain. In contrast to other known effects of diabetes such as kidney failure and thrombosis, neuropathy will not kill you. It can be extremely disabling, however, either ­because of the acute pain or because people completely lose sensation. Many people thus develop large infected ulcers without realizing it. Ultimately, this can require amputation,” says Troels Staehelin Jensen. WORLD-CLASS RESEARCH The Novo Nordisk Foundation awarded a Challenge Pro­gram­me­­ grant of DKK 60 million over 6 years for the IDNC project. The Challenge Programme aims to enable world-class research ­focusing on finding solutions to challenges related to global technology and health based on themes determined annually.

When Troels Staehelin Jensen received his grant in 2014, one of the themes was research on the complications of diabetes. The Programme has now provided Troels Staehelin Jensen with an opportunity to take his research to an even higher plane. “We are in a unique position, because our group at Aarhus University can now collaborate with the best researchers in the field – both here in Denmark and at the University of Michigan in the United States and the University of Oxford in the United King-

dom. We can monitor people over time based on the outstanding screening programmes for type 2 diabetes in Denmark, the ADDITION study and the DD2 database. We hope that this will enable us to understand why some people develop neuropathy and some don’t.” Cracking the code The researchers hope that the project will enable both people with diabetes and their GPs to become aware of the risk factors for neuropathy, thereby better preventing it. The long-term goal of the project, however, is much more ambitious.

“We want to understand the mechanisms behind neuropathy. We hypothesize that it results from changes in the axons (long nerves) to the feet and hands. We believe that it is primarily caused by oxygen deprivation in the individual nerve fibres; the stress the nerves experience leads to substances forming that can damage the nerves. Some nerve fibres die, with a loss of sensation, and other fibres try to repair and regenerate themselves, resulting in changes in sensation. This last effect can make people feel as if they are walking on shattered glass.” The researchers plan to study these processes in mice, measuring the oxygen saturation in their sciatic nerve. However, this will be very challenging because this nerve is incredibly thin. “If we succeed, we might be able to crack the code for why ­neuropathy arises. Carrying out similar measurements on people will allow us to confirm whether oxygen deprivation and the toxic substances are what cause the neuropathy among people with diabetes. Ultimately, we hope that our research can contribute to improving treatment so that people with diabetes may avoid major pain in the future,” says Troels Staehelin Jensen.



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The Foundation’s scientific prizes EASD–Novo Nordisk Foundation Diabetes Prize for Excellence Novo Nordisk Prize Novozymes Prize Marie & August Krogh Prize Hagedorn Prize Jacobæus Prize Novo Nordisk Foundation Lecture August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen Distinguished Mentor and Scientist Award

Celebrating excellence Throughout its history, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded more than 250 scientific prizes within biomedicine and biotechnology. The prizes recognize and reward individuals for outstanding scientific contributions or other efforts that support research. In addition to honouring the prize winners, the Foundation wants to highlight the importance of the individual scientific fields and thereby strengthen the interest in these fields and attract the best researchers. Further, the Foundation awards the prizes to help creating role models­ to inspire talented young people. Finally, the Foundation has arranged many scientific symposia in collaboration with the prize winners with the aim of contributing to networking and knowledge sharing. PRIZE COMMITTEES and partnerships The Foundation’s prizes are awarded with the help of specially created prize committees or in partnership with scientific societies. Each prize, for which no applications are solicited, has a specific purpose.

Most of the prizes include a personal award and a grant for research purposes within the recipient’s field of expertise. Currently, the Foun­ dation awards nine annual scientific prizes. The largest prizes are the EASD–Novo Nordisk Foundation Diabetes Prize for Excellence, ­accompanied by DKK 6 million, and the Novo Nordisk Prize and the Novozymes Prize, each accompanied by DKK 3 million.



Meet a prize recipient

To me, there is very little to beat the satisfaction of finding something new about how the natural world works."

Stephen O’Rahilly, Professor, University of Cambridge

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EASD-Novo Nordisk Foundation Diabetes Price for Excellence The Prize is awarded to recognize outstanding research or technology contributions to the understanding of diabetes, its disease mechanisms or its complications. The Prize winner receives DKK 6 million – of which DKK 1 million is a personal

award and the remaining DKK 5 million is for research pur­poses. The Prize is awarded by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the Foundation.

The beginning of the end Ten years ago, Stephen O’Rahilly of the University of Cambridge quoted former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a Science article about genetic factors related to type 2 diabetes. He stated that science was perhaps at “the end of the beginning” in this field. Today, he is inclined to believe that we have actually reached “the beginning of the end”. “Twenty years ago we knew that people vary in their susceptibility to diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity and that in­herited factors are very important in determining one’s risk of these ­diseases, but we didn’t know which physiological pathways are being influenced by genetics or which specific genetic variants are involved. Ten years on, we had made some progress, but in the past decade that progress has accelerated,” says Stephen O’Rahilly. “As a result of more recent and emerging work in human genetics, we now know that the variation in people’s susceptibility to become insulin resistant and develop metabolic syndrome is largely determined by their ability to expand a healthy mass of white ­adipose tissue in which to safely store excess energy,” he says. Pioneering research “Today, we know that a person’s chances of becoming obese or staying lean is strongly influenced by what variants they happen to carry in a group of genes that are highly expressed in the brain and that influence appetite and energy balance. Those prone to obesity struggle all their lives with their weight and their appetite. They feel ashamed and are considered by many as being weak-willed and lazy. And despite developing adverse medical consequences of their obesity, such as diabetes, they just cannot get themselves to a safe weight,” he says.

Stephen O’Rahilly richly deserves part of the credit for science getting this far. O’Rahilly’s research has focused on discovering the underlying causes of type 2 diabetes and obesity at the molecular level and turning these discoveries into improved diagnosis and treatment of people. His research has revealed numerous pre­ viously undiscovered genetic causes of the two diseases, including some that can be treated. “By studying people with extreme forms of obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, our work helped to accelerate understanding of the relevant molecular and pathophysiological processes as we were able to identify causative mechanisms for subtypes of these diseases.” EXCITING PHASE “I think we are at the beginning of a very exciting phase in our research when all the knowledge of the biology of the conditions we have been studying will start to turn into new ways of treating and preventing these diseases,” he says.

For his efforts, Stephen O’Rahilly was selected as the first recipient of the EASD–Novo Nordisk Foundation Diabetes Prize for Excellence in 2015. “I feel very honoured to be the first recipient of this award, which I am sure will fuel and help sustain new avenues of research,” says Stephen O’Rahilly. “I think the Prize will bring prominence to the importance of diabetes as a disease area. Anything we can do to highlight the importance of finding a cure is really valuable,” adds Stephen O’Rahilly.



Grants for humanitarian and social causes

Improving the quality of life The Novo Nordisk Foundation awards grants to humanitarian and social projects that improve the health and welfare of people in Denmark and the rest of the world.

In 2016, the Foundation is awarding grants for humanitarian and social causes of up to DKK 20 million (€2.7 million). These grants may extend over 3 years, for example in a strategic partnership with a charitable organization. The Foundation’s social grants target activities primarily in Denmark, especially activities that can sustainably improve the health outcomes for specific population groups. The Foundation’s humanitarian grants target projects with a primarily international perspective with the objective of improving the health and living standards of people affected by natural disasters, conflicts, war and poverty. The projects must be based in Denmark. In this context, the Foundation ensures that the humanitarian and social charitable organizations it supports are recognized, profes-

sional, transparent and file publicly available audited accounts. The Foundation also supports research with a humanitarian or social objective. Increased support Some of the grants awarded annually to social and humanitarian causes following calls for applications in open competition are based on different themes for the individual categories. The deadlines and selection criteria are published on the Foundation’s website.

The Board of the Foundation may also take the initiative to d ­ evelop, support and launch projects. The Foundation has recently increased its support for humanitarian and social causes. In 2015, it awarded DKK 7 million (€943,000).

In 2015, the Novo Nordisk Foundation awarded grants to the following humanitarian and social organizations: Børnefonden..................................................................................................... DKK 373,705 UNICEF Denmark.............................................................................................. DKK 1,000,000 SOS Children’s Villages Denmark................................................. DKK 300,000 Dental Health Without Borders Denmark........................ DKK 90,000 Children’s Welfare in Denmark..................................................... DKK 500,000 Centre for Rape Victims.......................................................................... DKK 204,000 The Soldier’s Grant..................................................................................... DKK 350,000 Maternity Worldwide............................................................................. DKK 300,000 Action Child Aid............................................................................................. DKK 99,838 Danish Refugee Council.......................................................................... DKK 500,000 Danish Mental Health Fund............................................................... DKK 290,000 Danish Red Cross (refugees in Denmark).............................. DKK 2,000,000 DanChurchAid.................................................................................................. DKK 500,000 Save the Children Denmark................................................................. DKK 500,000

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Innovation and building bridges The Novo Nordisk Foundation supports initiatives – either directly or through its subsidiary, Novo A/S – that aim to accelerate the use of new research-based and innovative knowledge.



Driving innovation

Adding value to research The Novo Nordisk Foundation wants to contribute to building bridges between the exciting dis­ coveries that researchers make and the commercial applications of the discoveries.

The initiatives cover the entire innovation value chain from research discovery to commercializing new diagnostic methods, therapies, assistive ­devices and technologies.

The ambition is to create added value by supporting the establishment of new life-science and bioindustrial companies and new jobs, thereby benefiting society as a whole.

Different stages of the chain require different types of support because the technical and commercial activities change and develop throughout the process.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation awards grants RESEARCH



Exploratory pre-seed





Novo A/S invests in companies









Collaboration between the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Novo A/S

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1. Research

2. Exploratory pre-seed

3. Pre-seed

4. Seed

5. Venture

The Novo Nordisk Foundation supports high-quality biomed­­­ical and biotech­nology research. The Foun­dation catalyses the creation of strong research environments that focus on crea­tivity. This is intended to create favourable conditions for making application-oriented discoveries with commercial potential.

The earliest stage involves testing whether the dis­covery will work in practice and can be commercialized. Funding is required to both test and develop a good idea and to investigate the potential for patenting and marketing. Researchers based at a university or hospital in a Nordic country may apply to the Foundation’s Committee on Exploratory Preseed Grants for funding for this purpose. The Foundation has increased funding for pre-seed grants from DKK 25 million (€3.35 million) in 2015 to DKK 30 million (€4.02 million) in 2016.

Researchers may apply for a pre-seed grant from the Foun­dation once the scien­tific and commercial potential of a fund or an idea has been further investigated. For both pre-seed programmes, the Foundation, in partnership with Novo A/S, supports the innovation process on the same terms as it supports research – by awarding grants to the applicant.

If an idea is sustainable and promising enough to advance to the next stage, which involves more extensive technical and commercial activities, Novo A/S may decide to specifically invest in a seed-stage company. At that stage, Novo A/S will exercise influence in the expanding company by appointing a member of the board.

If the expanding company turns out to have promising commercial potential, Novo A/S may make a substantial venture capital investment to further develop the concept and the company. Although the pre-seed and seed stages focus on the Nordic countries, venture capital investments are also made in other European countries and in the United States.

An international mentoring network Neither excellence in research nor the opportunity to fund idea development inherently leads to innovation. This also requires an innovation culture, with entrepreneurs and researchers capable of driving research discoveries and ideas forward so that the ­innovative and commercial potential can be exploited. Experience shows that the survival rate for new companies and the likelihood of success in the long term increase if knowledge sharing and advice on business development are added at the initial stages. In a new initiative in 2015, the Foundation awarded almost DKK 20 million (â‚Ź2.68 million) to Accelerace to establish an inter­ national mentoring network. This will comprise several mentors and experts from leading global life-science hot-spots with indepth insight on how to develop and grow life-science start-ups. The initiative aims to contribute to commercializing research discoveries by establishing more permanent and growth-oriented research-based spin-out companies. This is an important part of creating an improved ecosystem for start-up companies within the life sciences.




Controlling ownership Novo A/S is wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and is the holding company for the companies in the Novo Group. Novo A/S was established in 1999 and is responsible for managing the Foundation’s assets.

A key task of Novo A/S is to enable the Foundation to act as a stable basis for the commercial activities of the two large publicly listed companies in the Novo Group: Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S.

A shares having multiple voting rights, defends the companies in practice against any hostile takeover and ensures that the companies can plan their activities on a long-term basis and remain headquartered in Denmark.

As part of being a strong and active owner of the companies in the Novo Group, Novo A/S always has sufficient liquid funds to enable it to support the companies: for example, to provide the companies with additional capital or to pursue new investment opportunities.

RESPECT FOR MINORITY INTERESTS The role of Novo A/S is to manage its controlling shareholding in the best interests of the companies and with due respect for the interests of the minority shareholders.

Novo A/S must maintain material influence in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S and is obligated to retain its controlling interest in both companies. At the end of 2015, Novo A/S owned A and B shares in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S equivalent to 27% and 25.5%, respectively, of the ordinary share capital of the companies and 74.5% and 70.7%, respectively, of the voting shares. The A shares in the two companies are not listed and cannot be divested. The A shares have voting rights that are 10 times greater than the B shares in both companies. The share structure, with the

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“It is essential for Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S to have the optimal boards with the right competences. Even though we have the majority of votes in both companies, a majority of the board members are independent of the Foundation and Novo A/S,” says Sten Scheibye, Chairman of the Boards of the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Novo A/S. Novo A/S receives its income from its shareholding in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S. Income from the ownership of the companies comes both in the form of dividends and from participating in the companies’ share buybacks. In 2015, the dividends received by Novo A/S from the two companies amounted to DKK 3.75 billion (€503 million). The income from share buybacks comprised DKK 537 million (€72 million).

Novo Nordisk A/S Novo Nordisk A/S is a global health-care company with more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care.

Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk A/S has ­approximately 41,000 employees in 75 countries and markets its products in 180 countries. In 2015, Novo Nordisk A/S had r­evenue of DKK 107.9 billion (€14.5 billion). Of the 11 members of the Board, 7 are elected at the annual general meeting, of which 5 are independent. The employees elect 4 members.

Novozymes A/S Novozymes A/S is the world leader in bioinnovation. Together with customers, partners and global society, the company improves industrial production and contributes to preserving natural resources and improving the quality of life.

Headquartered in Denmark, Novozymes A/S has more than 6500 employees worldwide. In 2015, Novozymes A/S had ­revenue of DKK 14.1 billion (€1.88 billion). Of the 9 members of the Board, 6 are elected at the annual general meeting, of which 4 are independent. The employees elect 3 members.



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Growth and capital

Active asset management In addition to managing the Foundation’s controlling interest in Novo Group companies, Novo A/S invests in both financial assets and in companies conducting application-oriented research and development in the life sciences. The purpose of the investments of Novo A/S is to consolidate the Foundation’s assets to achieve a return that the Foundation can award as grants for scientific, humanitarian and social purposes. "Novo A/S has been entrusted with the important task of managing the assets of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The goal is to achieve a satisfactory financial return within the risk profile specified in the Articles of Association," says Sten Scheibye, Chairman, Novo A/S. When Novo A/S was created in 1999, the combined assets of the Foundation and Novo A/S not linked to the shareholding in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S comprised about DKK 600 million (€80.4 million). Since 1999, Novo A/S has received dividends continually from Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, has participated in the share buybacks of these companies and has invested in companies and securities to ensure a satisfactory financial return. Consequently, in addition to the shareholding in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, the assets had increased to about DKK 70 billion (€9.2 billion) at the end of 2015, comprising:

 selected

direct investments in companies head quartered in Denmark, including outside the life sciences; and

 financial

investments primarily placed in equities, company credits and bonds that can be sold rapidly if necessary.

INVESTMENT STATEGY Novo A/S has several reasons to focus many of its long-term investments on the life sciences. Historically, the Novo Group has its roots in the life sciences and has built up significant competencies within the field that can be used both when investing in and during the subsequent ownership of life-science companies. Through active and long-term ownership, Novo A/S aims to strengthen the development of the companies in its portfolio. The life-science sector is also attractive in investment terms, being based on solid macro trends in the form of increasing global living standards and an ageing population, which creates considerable economic growth in this sector.

The investments made by Novo A/S can generate excellent financial returns. Novo A/S can also act as a catalyst to bring new or better products and solutions onto the market to solve global health challenges.

 long-term

investments in the life sciences and bioindustrial companies, comprising investments in: > large, well-established companies, primarily in biomedicine and bioindustry;

> companies

in the venture phase; and

> companies

in the seed phase;




Catalysing commercialization Novo Seeds develops new, innovative biotechnology companies by supporting researchers at universities and early-phase life-science companies in testing and developing the commercial potential of promising research discoveries.

One important ambition of Novo Seeds is to contribute to developing a dynamic and successful biotechnology industry in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. Novo Seeds, a division of Novo A/S, was established in 2007 and currently focuses on two important areas: participating in awarding Foundation-funded exploratory pre-seed grants and Foundation-funded pre-seed grants; and making seed investments. The pre-seed programmes aim to help a startup biotechnology company establish itself at the earliest stage of its journey. This stage involves testing and developing the commercial potential of an application-oriented research discovery. In addition to the financial backing from the Foundation, Novo Seeds supports companies in developing their projects commercially. Once sufficient positive commercial potential has been shown, Novo Seeds may consider a seed investment. The seed programme invests in projects on commercial terms and is used for establishing a biotechnology company or for ­developing a new biotechnology start-up company. Novo Seeds expects to finance successful

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companies all the way to a commercial exit, whether this involves a stock market listing or the sale of the company. In addition to providing capital to develop companies, Novo Seeds also provides management, strategic and operational support to biotechnology companies. From 2012 to 2016, the investment framework has been boosted from DKK 100 million to DKK 175 million (€23.5 million). At the end of 2015, there were 24 active exploratory preseed ­projects, 21 active pre-seed projects and 16 ­active seed companies. “We aim to generate value based on research and product development. We therefore develop companies based on ideas and projects that have commercial potential, provide important new knowledge and make a difference for people. We want to catalyse the commercialization of discoveries and innovation,” says Søren Møller, Managing Investment Director, Novo Seeds. Promising cancer vaccine One company in which Novo Seeds has invested is IO Biotech ApS, which is developing a cancer vaccine. A major challenge in cancer treatment is that cancer can suppresse the immune response

through the IDO protein. The vaccine from IO Biotech ApS activates the immune system’s natural killer cells so that they recognize and attack cells with IDO. The vaccine is the first of its kind and has been trialled on 15 people with non– small cell lung cancer, with promising results, including increased survival rates. The company is currently preparing for additional clinical trials. “We hope that our vaccine will result in improved treatment in the future,“ says Mai-Britt Zocca, CEO, IO Biotech ApS. IO Biotech ApS is a spin-out from Herlev Hospital, where professors Mads Hald Andersen and Inge Marie Svane developed and patented the vaccine. In 2014, Novo Seeds invested DKK 3.75 million in the company, with an additional ­ DKK 7.5 million in 2015. “Novo Seeds’ input, network and active involvement have played a major role in establishing and developing IO Biotech ApS. Novo Seeds is a good partner that understands the difficult environment in which seed companies have to manoeuvre.­Having Novo A/S onboard as the first investor is a seal of approval for both our company and our research,” says Mai-Britt Zocca.

Mai-Britt Zocca, Mads Hald Andersen AND Inge Marie Svane, IO BIOTECH ApS



Novo Ventures

Novo Ventures aims to invest in life-science companies that have substantial commercial potential based on original product development.

BRINGING INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS TO PEOPLE Since it was created in 2000, Novo Ventures has invested DKK 8 billion (€1.07 billion) in 126 companies with pioneering new research-based products and technologies that can potentially improve the health and welfare of people worldwide. After a development stage, some companies are sold to pharmaceutical and medical technology companies.

As an investor, Novo Ventures has a long-term, flexible time horizon and can therefore support companies until the time is right to sell them onward. Novo Ventures has staff in Copenhagen, London, Boston and San Francisco and invests in companies in both Europe and the United States.

In 2015, Novo Ventures invested DKK 1.7 billion (€229 million). In 2016, the investment framework will increase to DKK 2.5 billion (€336 million).

“We are looking for international life-science companies that focus on the research and development of drugs and equipment to bene­ fit people and that will be able to create value with our financial and management support. We believe that value is best created through close collaboration between dedicated investors and talented entrepreneurs,” says Thomas Dyrberg, Managing Partner, Novo Ventures.

In addition to investment, Novo Ventures works actively with the companies by serving on the boards of directors. Companies can also draw on the extensive network and experience of Novo Ventures as well as its commercial and scientific expertise within the life sciences.

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Large investments

Creating value in the long term The growing financial returns of Novo A/S, including those from Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S and especially the returns from the investment activities of Novo A/S itself, have recently enabled Novo A/S to set its sights on large investment opportunities within the life sciences.

The purpose of these large investments is to ensure an attractive long-term financial return for Novo A/S while enabling a diversified investment portfolio over time. “We focus on identifying investment opportunities in well-established companies in northern Europe with a leading position in their field that are well run, profitable and have good future growth potential. We know that these companies trade at a premium but, as we saw with the investment in Chr. Hansen Holding A/S, an ownership stake in these types of companies creates value for Novo A/S,” says Michael Shalmi, Head of Large Investments, Novo A/S. “Through our long-term ownership horizon, which ensures that the companies can make long-term decisions, and our active ownership,

we aim to contribute to making these good companies even better,” he adds. In recent years, Novo A/S acquired a 25.7% stake in Chr. Hansen Holding A/S, all the shares in New Xellia Group, a specialized pharmaceutical company, and all the shares in Sonion, a leading global producer of components for hearing aids. Investing in these three hightechnology and knowledge-based companies contributes to developing and retaining jobs and value-creating production in Denmark. A FLEXIBLE APPROACH Venture investments by Novo A/S mostly generate financial returns from company exits, whereas the large investments will generate returns through dividends and long-term asset growth. Novo A/S has no fixed plan on a future exit when making a large investment.

Novo A/S takes a pragmatic approach to its large life-science investments. This means that Novo A/S invests in both minority and majority equity stakes and can take positions in both listed and privately owned companies. By actively serving on the boards of directors, Novo A/S seeks to contribute to shaping a company’s strategy, major strategic initiatives and the composition of the senior management. The board members nominated by Novo A/S are also responsible for ensuring that the companies’ values and activities are compatible with the Charter for Companies in the Novo Group.

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History of the Novo Nordisk Foundation

It began with a journey In 1922, August Krogh, a professor at the University of Copenhagen who had received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1920, went on a lecture tour of universities on the east coast of the United States. During this visit, the recognized Danish scientist took a detour to Toronto in Canada. This not only changed the lives of himself and his wife Marie but also became the starting-point for a unique scientific odyssey.

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History of the Novo Nordisk Foundation

The Pedersen brothers found Novo Terapeutisk Laborato­ rium and start selling Insulin Novo. This starts decades of rivalry between Novo and Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium: two companies, two cultures. Krogh, Hagedorn and Kongsted belonged to the social elite with deep roots in science; the Pedersen brothers simply called themselves manufacturers.

Novo Foundation


1926 Novo chooses the ancient Egyptian Apis bull for its logo.

1920 August Krogh is awarded the Nobel Prize in­ ­Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the ­regulating mechanism of capillaries.

1921 Frederick Banting, a young surgeon and researcher, assisted by Charles Best, a medical student, successfully extracts active insulin at the University of Toronto. The head of their department, John J.R. Macleod, Professor of Physiology, assigns biochemist James B. Collip to work on the project. Collip’s method leads to the first person with diabetes being treated with bovine insulin in January 1922.



During their tour of the United States, Marie Krogh persuades her husband to visit the Canadian scientists in Toronto. The meetings go well and August Krogh receives permission to manufacture insulin in Scandinavia. However, the permission is conditional on the insulin manufactured being made widely available and the profit from its sale being used for scientific and humanitarian purposes.

August Krogh, Hans Christian Hagedorn and August Kongsted agree to develop, manufacture and sell insulin, which becomes the basis for Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium and the Nordisk Insulin Foundation. The first Danish insulin is manufactured in the basement of Hagedorn’s house north of Copenhagen.

August and Marie Krogh’s journey to North America led to the development of world-class diabetes medicine and a subsequent Danish business and export venture. It also led to the establishment of several foundations that, many years later, merged into today’s Novo Nordisk Foundation.


1935 Novo builds its first factory building on Fuglebakken in Frederiksberg. Danish architect Arne Jacobsen designs the building.

1938 Novo founds Hvidøre Diabetes Sanatorium (later Hvidøre Hospital). In addition to receiving treatment, people with diabetes learn how they can optimize living with the disease. For many people, this means that they can lead nearly normal lives when they return home.

1951 The Novo Foundation is established. The Articles of Association state that the purpose of the Novo Foundation is ”to provide support for social, huma­nitarian or scientific causes”. The Foundation awards its first grants in 1955.

1959 The Novo Foundation establishes a committee responsible for awarding grants for ”medicine and the related natural science fields”. Poul Iversen chairs the committee. This is the forerunner of the current committee structure of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

1963 The Novo Prize (now the Novo Nordisk Prize of DKK 3 million) is awarded for the first time. The Prize is awarded to recognize unique medical research or other research contri­bu­ tions that benefit medical science. The first recipient of the Prize is Erik Warburg.



The August Krogh Prize (now the Marie and August Krogh Prize) is awarded for the first time, and annually thereafter, to an out­standing health researcher in Denmark. The prize is awarded in collaboration with the Danish Medical Society (now the Organization of Danish Medical Societies).

In 1973, Novo Terapeutisk Laboratorium and Novo Industri (established in 1957) merge and become Novo Industri A/S, the internationally known name. In 1974, the company is listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.

As a result of a disagreement, Hans Christian Hagedorn fires one of his most trusted employees, Thorvald Pedersen, a pharmacist and chemist. His brother, Harald Petersen, who works for August Krogh, resigns out of loyalty to Thorvald. August Krogh asks ”What are you going to do?” ”We want to make insulin,” Harald Pedersen replies.


The Foundation’s history of giving scholarships begins with the awarding of the first Hallas-Møller Scholarship. Knud Hallas-Møller, Harald Pedersen’s son-in-law, was managing director from 1961 to 1981. The Scholarship pays the recipient’s salary for 5 years plus the operating expenses of a research project.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation gets an independent management and administration. Steno Memorial Hospital and Hvidøre Hospital merge to become Steno Diabetes Center.


Following several years of exploratory discussions about collaboration, the Novo Nordisk Foundation is created on 12 January with the merger of Nordisk Insulin­ laboratorium, the Nordisk Insulin Foundation and the Novo Founda­ tion. The two operating companies Nordisk Gentofte A/S and Novo Industri A/S also merge to become Novo Nordisk A/S.

2007 1999 The Novo Nordisk Foun­ da­tion establishes a wholly owned subsidiary, Novo A/S, to manage the Foundation’s assets and owner­ship stake in ­Nordisk A/S and Novo­ zymes A/S (created in 2000). The term Novo Group is used for the first time, covering the three companies and their subsidiaries.

1926 The Nordisk Insulin Foundation adopts Articles of Association, which mandate support for physio­logical and endocrinological research.

1927 Nordisk Insulinlabora­ torium builds its first factory in Gentofte. The Nordisk Insulin Foundation awards its first grants.

1932 Niels Steensens Hospital (later Steno Memorial Hospital) opens. The name is chosen in honour of the pioneering Danish scientist Niels Steensen (1638–1686). People with low incomes can receive treatment for diabetes.

1938 Nordisk Insulinlaborato­ rium awards its first grants. Although its Articles of Association do not mention grants, Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium makes substantial donations over the years to scientific research and several other fields.

1942 The Nordisk Insulin Foun­dation awards the H.C. Jacobæus Lecture (now the Jacobæus Prize) for the first time. The Prize is awarded annually for an outstanding contribution in medical research.

1957 Niels Steensens Hospital (Steno Memorial Hospital) opens a new laboratory for carrying out research into the causes and progression of diabetes.

1966 The Hagedorn Prize is awarded for the first time. The Prize is awarded in collaboration with the Danish Society for Internal Medicine to recognize excellent research or development efforts within internal medicine.

Hagedorn Research Laboratory

2014 niels steensens hospital

1979 Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium is reorganized into three divisions: 1) the commercial arm, Nordisk Gentofte A/S; 2) the research laboratory at Niels Steensens Hospital becomes independent and is renamed the Hagedorn Research Laboratory; and 3) Niels Steensens Hospital (Steno Memorial Hospital). The Nordisk Insulin Foun­ dation continues to award grants.

Nordisk Gentofte A/S is listed on the Copenhagen stock exchange.


2010 The Foundation and Novo A/S move into their present offices in Hellerup, north of Copenhagen.


Nordisk insulinlaboratorium

Nordisk gentofte

The Foundation donates DKK 600 million (€80.7 million) to establish the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein R ­ esearch at the University of Copen­ hagen. The Center is the first research centre in a cluster of centres that today consists of four research centres and a biobank in Greater Copenhagen.


1987 The Nordisk Insulin ­Foundation arranges the first in a series of scientific symposia under the title of the Nordic Insulin Symposium. The more informal Novo Nordisk Foundation Research Meetings replace the symposia in 1995.

2016 The Board of the Foundation decides to increase the amount paid out for grants from almost DKK 1 billion in 2015 to DKK 2 billion (€268.3 million) in 2016.

The EASD–Novo Nordisk Foundation Prize for Excel­ lence is awarded for the first time. The Prize, accompanied by DKK 6 million, recognizes an outstanding contribution that has improved knowledge about diabetes. Stephen O’Rahilly receives the Prize. Another prize, the Novozymes Prize, accompan­ ied by DKK 3 million, is also awarded for the first time. The recipient is professor Bernard Henrissat.

Two new programmes are initiated. The ”Challenge Programme” (DKK 60 million per grant) seeks answers to biotechnological or healthrelated challenges such as diabetes, while the “Inter­ disciplinary Synergy Pro­ gramme” (DKK 15 million per grant) aims to facilitate innovative, high-risk interdiscip­linary research.

And the journey continues…

The Foundation organizes The Stem Cell Niche, the first conference in the Copenhagen Bioscience Conference series. The Foundation awards the first two of its most ambitious individual awards so far: Laureate Research Grants of DKK 40 million (€5.36 million) over 7 years.

Novo Nordisk FOUNDATION RESEARCH INNOVATION PROGRESS Concept and graphic design: Maria Elskær Grafisk Design Photos: Henrik Sørensen Photography Additional photos: Christian Als: page 26-27 Getty Images: page 39 University of Cambridge: page 52 P. Wessel: page 66-67 Writer and editiorial supervision: Christian Mostrup Scheel Additional writers: Rie Jerichov: page 30-31 Marianne Bom: page 32-32 Morten Busch: page 48-49 English: David J. Breuer and Robin A.P. Worrall Printing: Bording Pro A/S © 2016 Novo Nordisk Foundation All rights reserved

Telephone: +45 3527 6600


Novo nordisk foundation Tuborg Havnevej 19 DK- 2900 Hellerup DEnmark



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