No 2 - 2011
The Magazine about Life and Science in Medicon Valley
8: THE WORLDÂ´S HAPPIEST SCIENTISTS WORK IN MEDICON VALLEY 18:
Lone Frank: The Chinese are coming strong
Swedish and Danish register research
50: Medicon Valley has to run a different race
LifeSciences Insight no. 2 - 2011 LifeSciences Insight is distributed in Denmark and Sweden to: • Named decision-makers in the life science industry • Investors • Science parks • Hospitals • Universities • Life science media • Relevant MPs in Scandinavia • Medicon Valley Alliance’s members and collaboration partners In addition, the magazine is available at all relevant exhibitions and fairs in Europe, North America and Asia. Publisher: RASK Media ApS Frydendalsvej 3 DK-1809 Frederiksberg C Denmark +45 3326 9520 email@example.com www.raskmedia.com Partners: Medicon Valley Alliance www.mva.org EBD GROUP www.ebdgroup.com Editor in chief: Carsten Elgstrøm Editor: Susanne Bergstrøm Editorial team: Martin Andersson, Marianne Barfod, Susanne Bergstrøm, Jorun Christophersen, Claus Clausen, Lone Frank, Fredrik Hedlund, Charlotte Strøm, Birgitte Aabo. Advertising: Sales Manager: Mads Elgstrøm +45 2887 0776 Key Account Manager: Robert Arvidsen +45 2887 0775 firstname.lastname@example.org Cover photo: Christian Hjorth Øhlenschlæger Lars-Ole Gerlach, PhD and Head of Research at EpiTheapeutics, with children Photographer: Christian Hjorth Øhlenschlæger www.hjorth-photo.dk Layout and print: Zeuner Grafisk as Next issue: August 2011 ISSN: 1904-4755
Contents The column – In ten years time your boss will be called Li, Xi og Deng Research highlights in Medicon Valley The world’s happiest scientists work in Medicon Valley Danish scientists are the happiest and researchers in Sweden are almost as satisfied Danish researchers crack the migraine code Study answers the question and paves the way for new effective medication True friends The Chinese are coming strong. The code word is cooperation Danish and Chinese biotech hold hands DANSK BIOTEK concluded an agreement. Visit from their new partner Three Nobel Laureates to speak in Copenhagen International Symposium on Protein Chemistry Life Science conference in Tel Aviv with great potential The 10th ILSI-BioMed Conference Life Science Investment Day Sweden BIO’s premium event in Stockholm sets course for Skåne Opportunity to present technology at Cancer event Medicon Valley Alliance has teamed up with European Cancer Cluster Partnering Event in Toulouse, France Medicon Valley Alliance Online How to find information about potential business partners in the region The Baton - The Swedish Minister of Education Jan Björklund Investment in first-class research environment Swedish and Danish register research Health documentation is world class in the Medicon Valley Region Now or never for Medicon Valley The Danish-Swedish life science cluster is at a crossroads Medicon Valley has to run a different race One of the key messages at a workshop dealing with the future of Medicon Valley Better branding needed for Medicon Valley The Swedish Minister for Trade, Eva Björling, believes in improving branding of the region A great opportunity Asger Aamund, Chairman of Bavarian Nordic, on the opportunities for life science in Medicon Valley Latest members of Medicon Valley Alliance Events by Medicon Valley Alliance
3 5 8 14 18 24 30 32 33 34 36 40 42 44 48 50 52 53 54
Upcoming International Life Science Event
In ten years time your boss will be called Li, Xi or Deng By: Fredrik Hedlund Translation: CLS Communication A/S
Executed for corruption Maybe you feel that it is silly to imagine that a country that just a few years ago executed, the head of its state pharmaceutical agency, Zheng Xiaoyo, for corruption and the major heparin scandal should be on the way to taking over the world. But this death sentence also indicates the importance China’s leaders attach to the pharmaceuticals area. They did not hesitate to sacrifice a senior official who had caused incal-
culable harm to China’s reputation in the pharmaceutical context. While most people in the pharmaceuticals industry are fascinated by the enormous potential of the Chinese market, which is forecast to be the second largest in the world by 2015, a silent expertise revolution is under way in China. In recent years, China has invested heavily in the education sector. Since the millennium, 100 universities have been established every year in China. This means that hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of new graduates are beginning to take their degrees every year, many of them in the technology and life-science fields.
Western-trained PhDs More than 80,000 western-trained PhDs in the life-science sector have already moved back to China to build up the new Chinese biotech industry or teach at the new universities. And the Chinese government is continuing to tempt well-educated key personnel to move back to China
F A C T S
Within the next ten years, China could be the world leader in biotechnology and life science. How will this affect the pharmaceuticals industry and the prerequisites for companies in Medicon Valley? This is a question which more people should be asking. China, which is now the second largest economy in the world, is quietly switching from mass production of cheap plastic toys to innovative manufacturing with a high value-added factor. Biotechnology and new pharmaceuticals are a key area in the China of the future.
by offering them a million Renminbi (RMB, the official currency in the People’s Republic), corresponding to SEK 1 million or DKK 775,000. According to a major survey conducted by Monitor, an American market analyst, as many as twothirds of the Chinese life-science professionals in the United States are considering a return to China, either for good or for an extended period. But the enormous increase in the number of well-educated and skilled experts is not the only factor in China’s expansion in the life-science field. Clinical testing in western countries is being increasingly outsourced to China, and the number of Contract Research Organizations (CROs) has grown dramatically. The Chinese are rapidly learning how western pharmaceutical development works, and what is required.
Science parks with government support The Chinese are also developing a large number of science parks
Fredrik Hedlund • is a Swedish medical journalist with 15 years of experience. He has a degree in pharmacy from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Uppsala University • has a degree in journalism from The Institute of Journalism, Medias and Communication at Stockholm University. • has been chief editor of Sweden’s leading health and medical magazine Läkesmedelsvärlden and medical reporter at Sweden’s major daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
with government support and, at the same time, in view of its size, China has an enormous potential to change the prerequisites for medical research. Since 2009, China has invested the equivalent of SEK 800 billion, or DKK 650 billion, to establish about 4,000 new health centres and hospitals throughout the country, due for completion in 2012. And all the hospitals have a joint digital medical casebook system – a dream for any epidemiologist. The venture capitalists have not failed to note developments in China, and last year investments in Chinese life science increased by more than 300 per cent. The magical threshold of an annual one billion dollars of investment was passed for the fi rst time, and foreign capital was the major factor in this increase. In the United States, however, there was no increase in investment, which was at the same level as in 2009.
In its new fi ve-year plan for 2011-2015, the Chinese government identifi ed biotechnology and pharmaceuticals as one of fi ve key areas for investment. The Monitor market analysis company predicts that China will be one of the foremost players in the life-science fi eld by 2020 – perhaps the most important.
Vitamin injection or greater competition? How does this scenario aff ect companies in Medicon Valley? It may mean a benefi cial vitamin injection throughout the industry, with totally new alliances and collaboration. Chinese companies may, of course, become excellent partners in an increasingly globalized biotech world. But, at the same time, an increasing number of people feel that the Chinese are adopting an increasingly cocksure attitude. It is by no means
certain that they are interested in working with Swedish or Danish companies. Why should they, if they can get the same results in their home country at half the cost and with no cultural clashes. No, the most likely outcome in the next ten years will be greater competition in the biotech world – increased competition for venture capital, for personnel resources and for selling concepts or participating in joint ventures for phase III studies. Chinese companies will increasingly be the winners in this battle and, in the near future, your boss may be called Li, Xi or Deng.
The column is input to a topical debate and does not necessarily reﬂect the magazine’s opinion.
J o i n u s o r m e e t u s at f o l l o w i n g
events in 2011 Bio Partnering China*/**, Beijing, May 11–12 Euro MedTech*, Turin, May 16–17 ILSI Biomed, Tel Aviv, May 23–25 Bio USA**, Washington, June 27–30 BioPharm America*, Boston, September 7–9 European Cancer Cluster Partnering***, Toulouse, France, September 14-16 BIO KOREA, Seoul, Korea, September 28-30 BioJapan***, Yokohama, October 5–7 ISCE***, Frankfurt, October 25–27 BIO-Europe*, Düsseldorf, October 31–November 2 Medica***, Düsseldorf, November 16–19
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Research highlights from Medicon Valley Photo: ScandinavianStockPhoto
By Susanne Bergstrøm Translation: CLS Communication A/S
Cells on a skewer
Researchers from the Nano-Science Center and Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, have developed a bed of nano-threads on which the cells literally rest on pins. The laboratory version of a bed of nails comprises cultured cells which do not become punctured or stressed by the placement, but rather continue their activity unchanged. The nano-threads act like little electrodes, allowing the researchers to monitor the cells. This makes it possible, in contrast to previously, to keep tabs on the cell’s development without having to cut it open or disrupt the biological processes. The ultimate goal is to adapt the nano-threads to optical detection to make it possible to see colour changes in the cell and thereby determine whether a potential drug has an eff ect. This would speed up the process of determining the eff ectiveness of drugs signifi cantly. The industrial potentials are currently being studied under the auspices of the newly established company inXell bionics.
Inflammatory diseases in alcohol Researchers at the Bartholin Institute, Copenhagen University Hospital – Rigshospitalet, have discovered that moderate consumption of alcohol has a preventive effect on, among other things, diabetes. Small, daily doses of alcohol impede the process that results in infl ammatory diseases. Researchers emphasise, however, that alcohol consumption must not exceed the levels recommended by the Danish National Health Board.
Electrochemotherapy for cancer cells Copenhagen University Hospital – Rigshospitalet, Herlev Hospital, Glostrup Hospital and the electronics company
Sonion have developed an alternative treatment for brain metastases which makes the cancer cells responsive to chemotherapy. With electrochemotherapy, electrodes give the cancer cells an electric pulse, making it possible for the chemotherapy to penetrate the cancer cells and have a powerful eff ect on them and cause them to die. Aft er successful tests on animals, the technology will now be tested on humans. The scientists behind the discovery hope that the technology can be used as a platform for electrochemotherapy elsewhere in the body as well.
Danish vaccine tattles to the immune system The research team Experimental Virology Group at the University of Copenhagen has developed a new vaccine technology that reveals the inner workings of the hepatitis C virus to the immune system. The outcome, which has shown promising eff ectiveness on mice, will provide medical protection against the type of infl ammation of the liver that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer. The vaccine enables the body to recognise the virus as soon as it enters the system. The body can then immediately begin fi ghting the virus by, among other things, calling in specialised killer cells. The University of Copenhagen now plans to sell the technology, which could also be eff ective in combating HIV. The Danish Council for Independent Research | Medical Sciences has therefore granted funding for testing the technology within this context.
Smoke your way to a coronary Studies show that 9 out of 10 stroke suff erers under the age of 50 have smoked or have been subjected to passive smoking for years. Researchers at the Science Park at Glostrup Hospital in Denmark have now shed
light on the biological mechanism behind why smoking increases the risk of blood clots in the heart and brain. The fat-soluble particles in cigarette smoke penetrate the arteries and areas where inflammation and constriction are already present. The particles accelerate the constriction process so that the arteries easily become blocked. This discovery could result in the development of a chemical substance for prevention and treatment.
Sleeplessness may be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease
The Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen has demonstrated that early stages of Parkinson’s disease can be detected in sleep patterns. In connection with RBD (Sleep Behavioural Disorder), the musculoskeletal system remains uncommonly active, causing the sleeper to twitch in the arms and legs, cry out and strike out. Scientists believe that the earliest stages of Parkinson’s disease can be detected in, among other things, such sleeping disorders. According to the researchers, the possibilities for early intervention will be an important tool for improving quality of life and survival rates.
Hope for early diagnosis of ovarian cancer The Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, has discovered that 90% of ovarian cancer cases are caused by a lack of communication between the cells and the surrounding environment. The cells of the ovaries have a kind of “antenna” on their surface called cilia. When they are defective, the cell is unable to communicate with the surrounding environment. This appears to play a key role in the development of the type of ovarian cancer that comprises 90% of all cases. It is also possible that defective cilia may contribute to, among other things, diabetes, obesity and skin diseases. Researchers are now focusing on studying how cilia work and how they communicate with their surroundings in the hope of being able, in the near future, to diagnose ovarian cancer much earlier. Sources: Copenhagen University
Lund University Technical University of Denmark www.videnskab.dk www.vetenskap.se www.pol.dk www.netdoktor.dk
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The world’s happiest scientists work in Medicon Valley Danish scientists are the happiest in the world, while researchers in Sweden are almost as satisfied with their working life. This is the conclusion of a large-scale survey comparing the conditions for more than 10,000 scientists in 16 countries. By Birgitte Aabo Translation: CLS Communication A/S
were selected based on, amongst other things, their commitment to research and their ability to attract researchers from other countries. Denmark and Sweden, who cooperate in Medicon Valley, are the only two Nordic representatives in the survey. The individual scientists were asked to assess eight different parameters on working conditions and salary conditions. Combined, their replies provide an overall impression of researchers’ satisfaction in the individual countries. Photo: Christian Hjorth Øhlenschlæger:
Job satisfaction has reached new heights among Danish and Swedish researchers. The Danes are so content with everyday life at work that they have recently been declared the happiest scientists in the world, while their Swedish colleagues are happy enough about their work to take third place in this large-scale survey. The science journal, Nature, asked more than 10,500 scientists in 16 countries around the world how satisfied they are with their working conditions. The countries
”I am very pleased with my working conditions”, says Gert Bolwig, PhD in Molecular Microbiology, Contractor and Consultant in Denmark
Scientists in both Denmark and Sweden reported back that they were quite content with everything. Between the two countries, Dutch researchers occupy second place in job satisfaction or ‘contentment’. Danish scientists are above average in their assessment of all eight parameters. Consequently Nature, a widely recognised scientific journal, concludes that Denmark offers the best opportunities for providing researchers with an “excellent all-around research experience”. Naturally, this message has been well-received by the Danish Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Charlotte Sahl-Madsen (Conservatives). She regards the survey as a strong testimonial for Danish research, stressing that it shows “broad-based” satisfaction among researchers. In the survey, the scientists were asked to assess their salary, holiday entitlement, maternity/paternity leave schemes, health care schemes, pension, length of the
Photo: Christian Hjorth Øhlenschlæger:
At the top
“The desire to work should be the product of exciting and challenging tasks, successes and social interaction with other colleagues”, Lars-Ole Gerlach, MSc in Biochemistry, PhD and Head of Research at EpiTheapeutics in Denmark
working week, degree of freedom and independence in their work, as well as the mentoring and guidance available to them. The Danish and Swedish researchers are both most
Lars-Ole Gerlach about: Education: -MSc in Biochemistry; PhD Occupation: -Head of Research, EpiTherapeutics) Vue on research opportunities and work place: -My colleagues and I all have a very clear goal with our research and we all know the objective and our own specific role in the plan. Within that framework, we have the freedom to contribute with new ideas that can improve the projects and the company’s business opportunities. In contrast with many other nationalities, I believe that Scandinavian research institutions and companies are less authoritarian – everything the manager says is not necessarily always right. At the university, a thesis student is free to be critical about the professor’s ideas, and within the company, the boss is always (usually) pleased when the employees reflect on and question the goals and possible solutions. It’s a good culture that promotes better research because
Gert Bolwig about: the knowledge each employee possesses can be harvested for the benefit of everyone. As an added bonus, I also believe that it contributes to the working environment, because a critical attitude generates feedback in both directions. The environment and atmosphere in the workplace is very important. The desire to work should be the product of exciting and challenging tasks, successes and social interaction with other colleagues. I enjoy going to work in the morning – greeting the others, hearing the latest results. Vue on Danish infrastructure with regard to child care: As in other places in the world, there is good access to child care in Denmark. But in contrast to many other countries, child care isn’t very expensive in Denmark. This makes it possible for young researchers to have children earlier in their lives because you do not need a high income and the mother doesn’t have to stay home in order to balance work and private life. I was 26 when I had my first child.
Education: -PhD in Molecular Microbiology Occupation: -Contractor, Management-for-hire and Consultant Vue on research opportunities and work place: First, the corporate culture is results-oriented rather than focused on the number of hours you are physically at work. Second, they trust you to act reasonably and in accordance with the agreement you have entered into. In return, you are expected to be able to work once in a while outside normal office hours. I have a very good and open network where we often compare notes and experiences. This gives me plenty of opportunity for sparring. Vue on Danish infrastructure with regard to child care: I am very positive about the possibilities for child care in Denmark – and so is my wife. The only thing problematic about it is the growing number of closure days in the institutions.
Strong purchasing power
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Denmark: Total average score: 0,777
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0,4 the Danes are slightly As mentioned, Total average score: 0,458 Total average score: 0,711 more positive about their working Source: Nature USA: conditions in general – which is in Total average score: 0,628 tune with the The researchers’ satisfaction 0,2 overall attitude of the k countries e whichceare either leading research countries or are asnnumbereof ty ry based nt on mes o i Scientists in a i a e e nc n l Danish public in general s an w er es Pen Japan: de Sa he g t lem n uid so were asked to rank their satisfaction with eight c t n a i e sessed to have the potential to become i m sthe /P g0,458 t k p e r e n surveys which have yshown that Total average score: d e y sch o e d ar an nit parameters 1.0 is completely satisfied, 0.5 neutral and 0 dissatisfied. f wabout osalary f in andingcareer. hc lida Danes are the happiest people inter leave The Danish r Denmark into first place, while Sweden reached third place. In t o researchers e alt a h o Ho e e voted t g M r n H n g e e Le the world. However, Swedish reDthe comparison, USA M ranked low in the middle field while Japan came in at the bottom. searchers, as well, are far too cont e e n ty ek es en nc nc sio rni s close we 0.5 nmark em totecome de en tointhe ida htent g lem e u c P t a i e s g P hem t rk ep nd c ty/ signifies a fneutral attitude. tists have other reasons for feeling are doing nicely – with more purare which wo ind ga rni ve s f hc o n e o i t l t a r t e a a e h o l In Japan – with the lowest scorer contentment than those included chasing power than their Swedish e M r nt He ng eg Le Me cheerin the survey – weDsee a less in the survey, for instance, they are and German colleagues. ful picture. The Japanese scientists among the most quoted scientists are only able to report satisfaction in the world. Most frequently quoted above the neutral in just two paThis is due to the fact that they in the world rameters– health care scheme and are extremely productive – acBoth Danish and Swedish sciendegree of independence – all other parameters are assessed as directly negative. American scientists are somewhat more satisfied; however they do not feel the same degree of independence in their work as researchers in Denmark and Sweden. Furthermore, the Americans are not particularly happy about their salary, even though it offers the second-best purchasing power among all the countries in the survey – only the purchasing power of South Korean scientists is stronger. Although Danish researchers can buy less for their salaries, they are the most satisfied, and, compared with their European colleagues, they Gert Bolwig and his son: “I am very positive about the possibilities for child care in Denmark”
Photo: Christian Hjorth Øhlenschlæger:
satisfied with the maternity/paternity leave schemes available to them, if and when the need arises. Scientists in both countries are also in full agreement on their holiday entitlement being good enough to deserve the second-highest point total. They are also on a par regarding the third and fourth place on their list of satisfaction: degree of independence in their research, followed by health care schemes. 1,0 the nations diverge From there – with the Danish scientists being more content with their salaries and pensions than 0,8 with the length of their working week and the mentoring and guidance they receive, while the Swedish researchers share the 0,6 opposite viewpoints.
Photo: Christian Hjorth Øhlenschlæger:
Switzerland and the Netherlands placed second and third, respectively.
Cooperation The fact that Denmark has one of the most international research environments in the world is also demonstrated by the so-called Research Barometer, published annually by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, which surveys the quality, positions of strength and niches within Danish research. The 2010 Barometer shows that more than half of all Danish and Swedish scientific articles published in recent years have been published in cooperation with foreign researchers. Twenty five years ago, just under a quarter of all scientific articles from Denmark and Sweden had foreign co-authors. The Barometer also shows that research in various countries becomes globalised at different rates and that both countries are at the forefront. In the 1980s, Denmark was ranked the 10th most internationalised country, measured in terms of research cooperation. Today the country has moved up to 5th place. Similarly, Sweden has advanced from 13th place to be ranked as number 9. The Danish and Swedish researchers are both most satisfied with the maternity/paternity leave schemes available to them, if and when the need arises Pictured: Lars-Ole Gerlach and the woman in his life Katrine..
cording to the international magazine Times Higher Education, over a five-year period (2005-2009) Danish researchers have published more than 50,000 scientific articles in recognised journals and more than 74% of them have been quoted by other researchers – the highest number measured worldwide and 17% above average. Swedish scientists with more than 90,000 scientific articles published in the same period are actually even more active – not only in terms of absolute number of articles but also with a slightly higher per capita publishing rate. However, in percentage terms the articles from Sweden were quoted just a little less, i.e. just under 73% – placing Sweden fourth among research-active countries.
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Among the chosen ones Another indication that Swedish and Danish scientists do well internationally is their rankings on the American National Science Foundation’s (NSF) lists of grants and contracts. The NSF is a federal research funding agency aimed at supporting basic research broadly within technicalscientific areas. In 2010 the NSF had a budget of nearly USD 7 billion, equivalent to approximately one-fifth of all federally funded basic research at American universities. On an annual basis, approximately 200,000 scientists, students and lecturers in both the US and other countries benefit from this money source. In 2010 both Sweden and Denmark were on the list of the 13 countries outside the USA to receive NSF grants or contracts for researchers, companies and organisations. In terms of size of population, Sweden has achieved the fourth-largest support from NSF and Denmark is ranked fifth.
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Professional matchmaking Are you looking for talent? Or do you have talent and are looking for a job in Denmark? Work in Denmark is dedicated to bringing people together across borders. By Charlotte Strøm, MD, PhD, Journalist
Photo: Work in Denmark
Work in Denmark connects people from all over the globe with Danish employers – free of charge. The organisation was granted funding in 2008 by the Danish Labour Market Authority with the aim of increasing the workforce supply for Danish companies. The biotech and pharmaceutical companies are in particular focus, and Marianne Hansen, Director at Work in Denmark East, explains why: “The life science industry has traditionally had an international outlook in their business profiles. This includes recruitment, as many companies consider international candidates for their vacancies. Still, it can be quite difficult to reach the whole world with your job ads, and for smaller companies the task of recruiting talent-
ed employees internationally can be even more difficult to overcome,” she explains. In 2010 Work in Denmark East introduced 1,600 international candidates to different companies, with 150 candidates in the life sciences alone.
45,000 unique hits a month Workindenmark.dk has 45,000 unique hits every month, which means that any job ad on the site has a broad exposure. The database also readily stores profiles of people looking for a job in Denmark. “Furthermore, we present the jobs at international job fairs where Work in Denmark participates,” Marianne Hansen says.
One-stop shop for authority contact Once the right candidate has been found, a great many practicalities have to fall into place. In order to ease this process Work in Denmark collaborates with the Danish Immigration Services, the regional State Administration, the Danish tax authorities and the local municipality on a one-stop shop – called International Citizen Service. Here all practicalities are handled at the same time. So far the service has been successful and Work in Denmark has received very positive feedback from its users. “Employers, foreigners, their families and relocation agencies are unanimously excited about the possibility of getting all the paperwork done in one go. It saves time and, in some cases, also frustration,” says Marianne Hansen.
Advisors (...) are specially trained under the EU to assist people taking their professional chances in a new country.
Surveys show that in 80% of cases where international citizens go home before their contract runs out, it is because the spouse wants to leave. Work in Denmark pays special attention to this issue and has therefore built up a network of companies with international employees in order to find jobs for spouses. This network is called Partner Link. Marianne Hansen elaborates: “We know – and the companies know – that a key factor for success in international recruitment is that the spouse can also pursue his or her career. We are proactively addressing this by seeking out job opportunities in the network of companies that have signed up for our Partner Link. We also support spouses by offering job searching courses and individual guidance.”
The three Work in Denmark centres have a total of 30 EURES (EURopean Employment Services) Advisors who are specially trained under the EU to assist people taking their professional chances in a new country. They are trained to do more than matchmaking. “Cultural differences may raise minor or major issues for the employee as well as for colleagues. We offer to visit the workplace and guide employees to ease the process, talking with them about the kinds of issues that can come up – and giving them tips on how to handle them,” explains Marianne Hansen, Director at Work in Denmark East, concluding: “In order to succeed in international recruitment, it’s important that you can make people feel at home away from home”.
Photo: Work in Denmark
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Facts about Work in Denmark • Workindenmark.dk is Denmark’s official website for international recruitment and job seeking. • Work in Denmark has offices in three major cities in Denmark: Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense. • As an employer, you can create job vacancies, search for foreign manpower in the CV database and find relevant information about recruiting and retaining employees from abroad. • The services of Work in Denmark are free of charge for the employer as well as for the employee.
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Danish researchers crack the migraine code For decades, headache researchers have debated whether there is a correlation between dilation of arteries in the brain and migraine headaches. A Danish study answers this question and paves the way for new opportunities to develop eff ective medication. By Birgitte Aabo Translation: CLS Communication A/S
Photo: Scandinavian Stock
Initially, Sohail Asghar was not certain that he wanted to spend years studying the topic his PhD advisor assigned to him fi ve years ago. “I didn’t really see the point of studying the connection between dilation of the arteries in the brain and migraines. There are traditionally two basic beliefs within migraine research – some consider arteries to be the most important factor while others believe that nerves have the greatest infl uence. Personally, I was of the opinion that nerve cells played a more important role than the arteries in the brain,” admits Sohail Asghar, Doctor and PhD Student. But as his research progressed, he and his colleagues on the research team at the Danish Headache Center at Glostrup Hospital and the University of Copenhagen were forced to revise their attitudes and admit that arteries do play a crucial role. And Sohail Asghar became so involved in the project, that for several years he devoted nearly all his weekends to it – because the weekends where the only time it was possible to book Glostrup Hospital’s busy MRI scanner to examine volunteers suff ering from migraines.
Until now, migraines have just been a series of symptoms described by the patients themselves.
His time turned out to be well-spent, because today scientists now have the answer to a question that has been an assumption among headache researchers for ages. It has now been proven that migraine pain is linked to dilation of specifi c arteries that supply the cerebral membranes and the actual cerebral tissue. Furthermore, it has also been proven that special arteries
Painful examination There are two types of migraine – those without aura and those with aura. An aura is a visual problem, usually
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to the cerebral membranes are critical for relieving migraine pain. This discovery can be used in the development of new medicines to treat the serious headaches that affect more than one in ten people in the Western world. “Until now, migraines have just been a series of symptoms described by the patients themselves. We have never had any way of measuring and weighing migraines, but we do now. We have identified a biomarker for migraines which will make it possible to target future drugs. We have pointed out exactly where the drugs need to have an effect,” explains Sohail Asghar. At the interview, the 33-year-old sat next to his 45-year-old PhD advisor Dr. Messoud Ashina, Hospital Consultant, and it was clear by the way the two supplemented each other’s statements that they have spent a great many hours in each other’s company: “We have spoken together nearly every single day for the past five years, so we know each other really well by now,” says Sohail Asghar, who is currently putting the final touches on his PhD dissertation. However, he and the research team have already published the arteries study in the recognised scientific journal Annals of Neurology.
Danish Headache Center The Center was established in 2001 as the first of its kind in Scandinavia with an interdisciplinary approach to both diagnosis and treatment. The Centre is part of Denmark’s largest neurological department located at Glostrup Hospital, which treats approximately 8,000 patients from all over Denmark every year. The Center works closely with the University of Copenhagen and the pharmaceutical industry.
in the form of blurred vision or sensory disruptions just before an attack. The group without aura is the largest, comprising around two-thirds of the patients, and they were the focus of Sohail Asghar’s work. However, migraines are difficult or impossible to predict. Only in a very few instances, and never systematically, was it actually possible to scan a person while they were having a genuine migraine attack. So in order
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Migraines – an expensive illness Up to 15% of the adult population in the West suffer from migraines – corresponding to 80 million people in Europe and the USA.
Migraine attacks occur during the productive years from 25 to 55 years of age and cost society up to EUR 27 billion a year. The diagnostic criteria for migraines are that the headaches are not caused by another illness and that the patient has had at least five headaches lasting 4-72 hours. At the same time, sufferers also experience at least two of the following symptoms: Headache on only one side of the brain, throbbing, moderate to severe pain, made worse by routine physical activity, nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light and sounds.
to do MRI scans of patients experiencing attacks, the researchers had to provoke them. To do this, they used a substance called Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP), which widens the arteries. People with migraines generally have a naturally higher level of the substance in their blood compared to others. And when the substance is administered by injection, 7-8 hours later a migraine is triggered that resembles the kinds of headaches the subjects usually experience. “I had to find volunteers who felt fine and did not have a headache on the day of the scan, get them to the hospital, where they were given the injection and then wait for hours until the attack started. And then, while they felt really lousy, they had to go into the MRI scanner, which is claustrophobic and very noisy. Going into that machine is a huge challenge for many people and the noise makes the migraine even worse,” Sohail Asghar explains. It is not the most enjoyable experience to attract volunteers for. Still, it was relatively easy for Sohail Asghar: “My network was a huge help. For instance, nurses almost always know someone in their department who suffers from migraines, and many people in the hospital
Source: Research team’s scientific article.
and university environment are willing to participate for the sake of research. But there were also more personal reasons. For example, I examined a female migraine sufferer whose daughter also suffered from migraines. The mother hoped that she might be able to help bring about more effective drugs that could help her daughter or her grandchildren.” The study covered a total of 24 people, of which 15 were scanned during an attack. Some of them became so ill after the injection that they were unable to complete the experiment – they suffered from vomiting or were unable to lie still enough to carry out the scan. “I know exactly what I have demanded of these volunteers. It’s nothing that I haven’t tried myself,” says Sohail Asghar who, like his supervisor, also suffers from migraines.
Constricted arteries The results of the MRI study were clear. The provoked migraines caused widening of the arteries that supply both the cerebral membranes and the actual cerebral tissue. And when the attack was concentrated on one side of the brain, only the arteries on that side were dilated. The researchers found it equally interesting that when the patients were given the drug Sumatriptan, which is used to treat migraines, the arteries in the cerebral membranes contract, reducing the severity of the attack. This is an important discovery, according to Sohai’s PhD advisor, because it means that it is only necessary
Photos: Christian Hjorth Øhlenschlæger
Dr Sohail Asghar, MD, MSc and PhD student, in the middle, with his supervisor Dr Messoud Ashina, MD, PhD and Hospital Consultant, on the left. On the right, Adam Espe Hansen, MRI Physicist, Glostrup Hospital, who was also a member of the research team.
to concentrate the drugs on the arteries that supply the cerebral membranes. This is a huge advantage, because these arteries are easier to target with medicine than the arteries located deeper in the brain that are protected by the bloodbrain barrier, which makes it difficult for infections and waste products to penetrate the brain, but which also makes it very difficult to get effective medicines inside the brain.
of glial cells, and one of them constitutes the previously mentioned hurdle, the blood-brain barrier.
Smart drug Sohail Asghar is now very hopeful that the pharmaceutical industry will use this new knowledge actively. Because even though there are drugs currently on the market that work for some patients, they do not relieve the pain for everyone. Around 60% can experience reduced pain and only half as many can actually be pain free. Furthermore, the drugs have side effects, which Sohail has experienced himself: “Before an attack, I’m usually extremely tired in the morning. But I can never know whether it is the start of a migraine, and the side effects are so severe that I postpone taking the medicine as long as possible. It gives me the cold sweats, it feels like my oesophagus is twisting into a knot and I have trouble speaking. Now that we have found a biomarker, it’s possible with medicine to produce a smart bomb that can be aimed directly at the target.” Sohail Asghar recently received the Mogens Fog Award for his clinical research in migraines. Messoud Ashina was also granted DKK 2.5 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to continue his work studying migraine patients. At Aalborg University another researcher has also recently received a million-kroner grant for migraine research. The recipient is 36-year-old Parisa Gazerani from the Faculty of Medicine, who is working to shed light on the role glial cells play in migraines. There are three types
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True friends The Chinese are coming. And they are coming in strong. But the code word for the new global research agenda is cooperation, and Denmark is in a key position while the USA is being supplanted as the world’s leading research nation.
By Lone Frank
and what looks like a dump, but hidden within its walls is a world of high technology. The heart of the entire operation is on display behind glass, as though in an incubator. From the outside, you can see the large neon-lit and dust-free interior and admire rows upon rows of machines that closely resemble compact refrigerators. Luo calls attention to the little sign on each one which reads: Illumina Higseq 2000. They represent the
Translation: CLS Communication A/S
SHENZHEN – LUO Ruibang looks around at his colleagues and shakes his head in disbelief. “I work here and I know the spirit of the place, but even I sometimes have a hard time keeping up. Everything goes so fast. Just a year ago, this place was a shoe factory, and now it’s a centre for modern genetic research – the world’s largest.” BGI – formerly known as the Beijing Genomics Institute – may be surrounded by garages, small shops
China is quickly moving up the value chain, as it is called. Shoe factories and unskilled workers are being replaced by genome centres and university-trained researchers
most advanced technology within DNA sequencing, with each machine costing about half a million dollars. “At the moment we have 128 of them,” informs Luo, who goes on to explain that when the entire lot are running at full capacity, they can analyse and map what corresponds to the entire DNA of 10,000 people over a period of one year. “That’s a lot of DNA,” he says, smiling. The American scientist David Wheeler from Baylor College in Houston recently quantifi ed it in different terms in Nature: the equipment at BGI alone surpasses the total capacity for genome sequencing in the United States as a whole. To process the overwhelming amounts of data, they have some of the world’s fastest com-
puters – a multitude of servers located in their own cooled facility with regular inspections. However, interpreting all this genetic information and transforming it into usable knowledge still requires a human touch. Where there were just 1,500 researchers and technicians a year ago, there are now nearly 4,000. Some work in labo-
ratories where they play with everything from human stem cells to genetically modifi ed balsa wood. Others work at computer monitors in the converted factory halls whose labyrinths of partitions resemble the insides of a beehive. Most of the workers look like they belong in upper secondary school.
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If you give young people the freedom to work on something they really enjoy they mature surprinsingly quickly.
“No, no,” assures Luo, “The average age is up around 26.”
Headquarters in Copenhagen A visit to BGI in Shenzhen is an eye-opening experience. Almost shocking. Not only for people interested in genetic research, but just as much because the private research organisation also symbolises the new China’s progress and ambitions for the future. The huge developing country forced its way back onto the global stage by inundating the entire world with masses of cheap consumer goods. But they have no intention of continuing on that course. China is quickly moving up the value chain, as it is called. Shoe factories and unskilled workers are being replaced by genome centres and university-trained researchers because they want to contribute to or perhaps even lead what we call the knowledge economy. “It’s embarrassing for us,” admits Yu Xuan. “For centuries, China was a leading civilisation, but then we had an unfortunate period of regression while the West developed quickly during and after the industrial revolution. Many Chinese have a deep-seated belief that we have to work harder than everyone else, because we must regain lost ground. That’s why we work so hard.” The young plant researcher, who studied in the UK, will be doing some of this hard work in Copenhagen, where BGI quietly established its European headquarters about a year ago. But what started out as a humble office in an old building at the University of Copenhagen will, in the next few months, become a genomics centre with ten coveted Illumina machines and an initial scientific staff of 50. “In the long term, more will join us,” says Yu. BGI is
investing DKK 60 million in the project, and last week the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation announced a grant of DKK 86 million for a series of projects to take place as collaborations between Danish researchers and BGI. One such project is the Danish pan-genome, which seeks to map the variation in the collective genome of the Danes. This knowledge will be used to improve our understanding of how individuals develop diseases in the interface between genetics and lifestyle. “Why did we choose Denmark?” Yu asks. And the answer is just as concise: “BGI has special connections to Denmark.” The project is a very good example of the importance of the Chinese concept of guanxi – networks or mutual personal relationships. Our activities in Denmark are not the result of a sudden impulse or a speedy cost-benefit analysis. They are the result of a quarter of a century’s uninterrupted connection between one of BGI’s two founders, Yang Huanming, and Professor Lars Bolund at Aarhus University. As a young researcher, Yang came to Aarhus University in the 1970s where he worked with the Danish geneticist. Bolund later became deeply involved in establishing BGI in 1999, which was a politically unpopular project with no funding. Now, the situation is radically different, and he is a senior advisor to BGI, living half the year in Shenzhen. “I believe there are similarities between the Danish and Chinese cultures. For example, friendship is considered important, both in life and in the world as such,” says Yang Huanming. The little gentlemen with the greying temples smiles widely and then moves on to a more serious topic: the bioeconomy he is staking his entire career on and which he is eager to kick-start in China. “When we started out, neither our colleagues nor
our Chinese partners could see how genetics would be useful. Though genetic data are not intrinsically interesting, you have to think of biology as a kind of information science. We are talking about digitisation of the living world. DNA sequences are comparable to other types of digital data. The value lies in what we gain from analysing, interpreting, handling and, especially, communicating this information.” A prime example of precisely this aspect is the fact that the major players in the global IT sector became involved in the field long ago. Google, IBM and Microsoft have all invested in genomics, which is the umbrella term for all modern genetic research. And in January, Forbes Magazine estimated that within the next ten years, the genomics industry will total USD 100 billion. The situation is very similar to the early days of the Internet when everyone had a clear sense that it would be huge and change our lives, but no one fully understood how. Similarly, no one could predict what would become killer apps. Winning products, “that’s why we’re expanding,” says Yang, pointing to a stuffed suckling pig sitting awkwardly in a display case on a patch of artificial grass. This was the first cloned pig created by BGI’s scientists which “was unfortunately smothered by its mother shortly after birth.” Whereas well-known genomics centres such as the Broad Institute in Boston, USA, and
the Sanger Center in the UK typically focus narrowly on genetics in relation to human health and disease, BGI also studies microbes as well as animals and plants from agriculture.
Last year, BGI even mapped the DNA of the panda “It’s cute,” says Yang. “Genetic information is the foundation for understanding all types of organisms and thus the key to many industrial sectors,” he explains. Over the next two years, BGI’s researchers will map tens of thousands of bacteria, fungi and viruses with a view to developing better biotech production methods, biofuels and anything else where microbes can be beneficial. And the large agricultural department will be studying the plants and animals that are important to China’s food production. With the help of gene technology, the crops of the future will be encouraged to grow in poor soil and withstand drought and freezing temperatures. “We are being compelled to create a new green revolution,” Yang Huanming dryly states. Behind him on the wall is a front page of Science which announced several years ago that BGI had mapped the genome of the rice plant. One of the only projects BGI has carried out entirely alone. “All our projects are collaborations, and that’s inten-
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tional. I believe that biological and medical research in general should replace the model we know from the world of physics. We need to join forces across national boundaries because today’s projects are so big that they require more types of expertise than any single organisation can house under one roof.”
Denmark is overtaking the USA
Photo: Mads Nissen
The exact same notion is being voiced almost simultaneously on the other side of the world in Washington, DC, where the American Association for the Advancement of Science holds its impressive annual meeting. At that meeting, Caroline Wagner, research analyst and professor at Pennsylvania State University, caused uproar with an article she is working on. The article demonstrates that the USA is being supplanted as the world’s leading
research nation and that they can do little about it. “We are experiencing a transition to a new global research agenda,” says Wagner on the phone from the other side of the world. She is not in a moment’s doubt that the leading position the Americans have held for the last half century or so will be taken over by the Chinese quite soon. Researchers in China already produce more scientifi c publications within engineering and natural sciences. And projections suggest that they will be the leaders in every fi eld of research by 2015. “This thought generally makes politicians in the USA and the West cross themselves and sound the alarm,” Wagner says in a calm voice. “But it’s actually a win-win situation from a global point of view. Even the research community admits that more knowledge is a positive thing. The cake as a whole
Many Chinese have a deep seated belief that we have to work harder than everyone else.
will increase in size, and everyone will ultimately benefi t.” If a nation or region is to profi t from this development, they need to gear their systems to be able to ‘source’ knowledge and expertise from the outside. This does not mean attempting to be involved on all fronts, but rather concentrating their resources on areas that are very advanced internationally.
The USA has a huge, rigid system with no policy for international collaboration We want to keep everything inhouse. But those days are over,” declares Wagner, emphasising that it will be small, flexible countries such as the Netherlands, Singapore and Denmark who emerge as the winners in the future. As she puts it: “You already have a tradition for collaboration, and you have already overtaken the USA when it comes
to quality parameters in research.” This means that a research article by a Danish team will, on average, be published in better journals and quoted more than an average American article. “I just hope that Western society can avoid seeing Asia’s and China’s progress as a threat. It represents a great opportunity, especially for making these countries more open. And if you ask me, there are several areas where the West could actually be inspired by, among others, the Chinese.”
Darned good In the old shoe factory in Shenzhen, two things in particular clearly stand out. Their enormous passion for their work and their hunger to excel. They want to be good – darned good – at what they do. “Of course,” says Li Yingrui, “what do you expect? The fun is in being able to use your potential to the fullest.” The young man with
a crew-cut and wry smile is the 24-year-old head of the bioinformatics department and its 600 computer experts and biologists. Li felt that he was wasting his time studying at Peking University – one of the best in the country – and so he came to BGI where he could put all his competences to use. He has worked in particular on developing the world’s leading soft ware that can assemble the huge DNA jigsaw aft er it is run through the sequencing machine. “People from the outside have laughed at how young we are here at BGI, saying that it will never work. Of course, we could use some experienced colleagues, like the biologists I work with in Denmark. But if you give young people the freedom to work on something they really enjoy as well as responsibility for making it work and making a contribution, they mature surprisingly quickly.” A good example is Zhao Bowen. This young man is 18 years old and head
of his own project. A couple of years ago, he was a pupil at an elite school in Beij ing but was permitted to participate in a summer project at BGI, where he joined Li’s team. They gave him an assignment, expecting it to be solved within a couple of weeks. However, Zhao fi nished it in just half a day, and so they off ered him a job. “My parents said it was OK as I as long as I completed school at the same time so I can go to the university later,” he says. But fi rst Zhao is hoping to identify the genetic factors behind a high IQ. He is in the process of contacting thousands of fellow citizens with an IQ of above 145 in order to compare their DNA with thousands of people of average intelligence. This project has also attracted interested partners in both the USA and the UK. “What about me? Oh, I’m not that special,” says Zhao modestly, pushing his glasses up. “There are other people here who are much more intelligent than I am.”
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Danish and Chinese biotech hold hands Chinaâ€™s growth is attracting hopeful businesspeople from all over the world. While many are unsuccessful, DANSK BIOTEK concluded an agreement last autumn and received a visit from their new partner in March. By Birgitte Aabo Translation: CLS Communication A/S
slide show on the science park sent to them because there are some interesting points they would like to share with their members. Their members are more than 200 companies organised in the Shanghai Biopharmaceutics Industry Asso-
Photo: Dansk Biotek
Eight impeccably dressed Chinese businesspeople are sitting in a horseshoe listening attentively to a talk on the Copenhagen science park, COBIS, which they are currently visiting. They are asking questions and taking notes and, yes, the visitors would like to have the entire
Mr Chen Shaoxiong, Vice Chairman and Secretary General, Shanghai Biopharmaceutics Industry Association (SBIA) and Ruth Klyver, Head of Secretariat of the trade organisation DANSK BIOTEK, signing the partnership agreement.
Everyone stands by their word Ruth Klyver held the pen when the Danish and Chinese biotech organisations signed the partnership agreement in Shanghai last autumn. In the two-year agreement, they mutually agree to facilitate global collaboration in the biotech industry – for the benefit of both parties. “A signed partnership agreement means that both parties are serious about this, and stand by their word. That is why the agreement is important, even though we already had good relations with China,” explains Ruth Klyver. In practice, the agreement means that the organisations, together with Copenhagen Capacity and Invest in Denmark, will help each other establish contacts in their
Photo: Dansk Biotek
ciation (SBIA), which is the trade organisation that has entered into a partnership with DANSK BIOTEK. The delegation from SBIA is visiting Denmark for the first time and has a tight schedule planned by their new partners – together with their co-hosts Copenhagen Capacity and Invest in Denmark, which are the official organisations for promoting investment under the auspices of the Capital Region of Denmark and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, respectively. “Denmark is a good place for biotechnology, so we are happy to be here. We know that Denmark, and especially Copenhagen, does a lot to promote its development globally,” says Chen Shaoxiong, Vice Chairman and Secretary General of SBIA, during a brief break in the programme. He concludes: “The partnership with DANSK BIOTEK gives us better opportunities to exchange information and help our member companies to collaborate with Danish companies.” The Chinese businesspeople had the opportunity to visit a couple of Danish biotech companies during the course of the day. And while Ruth Klyver, Head of Secretariat of DANSK BIOTEK and Business Development Manager for Copenhagen Capacity, will not divulge which companies had the honour for reasons of confidentiality, she does explain that the Chinese are interested in, among other things, gathering knowledge about the entrepreneurial spirit that prevails in the Danish biotech sector with its many small businesses: “This kind of environment doesn’t exist in China, where the companies have more centralised management and also have all formerly been state-owned, with the advantages and disadvantages that this entailed. So they don’t have the layer of small, new biotech companies that we have here in Denmark.”
“The Chinese and the Danish biotech industries are very different. That is one reason why both parties can benefit greatly from working together,” says Ruth Klyver, Head of Secretariat of the trade organisation DANSK BIOTEK.
respective countries, organise meetings and obtain the information that the individual players in the sector need in any given situation – e.g. prior to and in connection with the China Partnering Forum 2011 in Beijing in May. It is one of the first major international life science events in China and the organisers expect the participation of approximately 550 industry representatives from 300 companies in 23 different countries – companies from Medicon Valley are also expected to be well-represented, although it is as yet uncertain how many will make the journey. Ruth Klyver has travelled to China herself several times in recent years, and has observed first-hand the major changes taking place in the country: “Five or six years ago, when I was in China for the first time, we had to use interpreters because the people there generally didn’t speak English. Since then, many have worked and studied abroad within the field of biotech – especially in the USA and Europe – and are now returning to China in large numbers, lured by the tremendous growth their country is experiencing, while the industry in other countries has suffered from stagnation and pessimism. The many returning biotech experts have given the industry a boost and helped create a brand new and completely different environment in China in the
space of just a few years ago, with lots of young, highly educated people who speak English.”
The Chinese are here During their visit to Denmark in March, the representatives of the Chinese biotech organisation visited one of the world’s largest companies within preclinical research, the Chinese Shanghai ChemPartner, which established its European headquarters in the Scion science park in Hørsholm, north of Copenhagen, last year. The company employs a scientific staff of more than 2,000, and the Danish organisation, ChemPartner Europe, manages, among other things, research projects from the European biotech industry, which are executed on contract by the parent company in China. The company has previously explained that it chose Copenhagen because the region already has an established biotech industry in Medicon Valley, with pharmaceutical companies and a fertile base of small enterprises. Furthermore, the Chinese appreciate the Danish
Sector organisation for Danish companies whose core focus area is biotechnology applied with drug development and industrial biotechnology. Works to promote knowledge of modern biotechnology in the public sphere, to influence the political agenda in the area, to ensure the best possible conditions for the research and development activities of its members and to promote its members´ interest in general, both nationally and internationally.
In recent years, China has attracted enthusiastic business interest from all over the world with its enormous population and economic growth. “Everyone has probably heard, read and appreciated that a lot is going on in China. The Chinese are building up an entire infrastructure, and both the willingness to grow and the financial resources are huge. At DANSK BIOTEK, we are targeting our efforts at getting to know the Chinese companies. There are plenty of them, but we are gradually learning to navigate between them, mapping their needs and working to establish collaborations with Danish companies.” In this process, it is very helpful to have a partner in China. There are numerous biotech organisations to choose from in China, but Shanghai Biopharmaceutics Industry Association is the oldest as well as one of the two largest, and is very aware of the opportunities inherent in international collaboration. The first meeting between the representatives from the organisation and DANSK BIOTEK was organised by Invest in Denmark last year, and they quickly reached a partnership agreement, which was signed at the Consulate General of Denmark in Shanghai, where gifts were also exchanged as per Asian tradition – Ruth Klyver brought a Danish design porcelain vase, and received a silk scarf from her Chinese counterparts. “The agreement was signed in October, and an official visit to Denmark had been held by March, which shows that the Chinese are interested,” according to Ruth Klyver, who also believes that the Swedish companies in Medicon Valley will benefit from the agreement between Denmark and China. “While DANSK BIOTEK safeguards Danish interests, the collaboration between Copenhagen and Skåne in Medicon Valley will pave the way for companies in Skåne to also profit from the agreement with China,” she concludes.
Also in the interests of Sweden
efficiency, finding it easy to establish a company in Denmark – with assistance from Copenhagen Capacity and Invest in Denmark. Ruth Klyver believes that in future more companies will outsource projects to companies in Asia via European satellite offices. The carrot for Denmark is that more Chinese companies will be encouraged to set up in Denmark. “We are, of course, each thinking about our own best interests, and a partnership must have something to offer both parties,” explains Ruth Klyver.
Major grant Another major project taking place on Danish soil with Chinese participation is the Danish Platform for Largescale Sequencing and Bioinformatics research centre, which will be opening this summer at COBIS. The research centre is backed by four Danish universities in collaboration with three companies, including Beijing Genomics Institute Europe. Together, they have received the largest grant ever awarded by the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation – a five-year grant of DKK 86 million. The universities and companies are co-financing the centre with an additional DKK 84 million, making the centre’s total budget DKK 170 million. The centre will put Denmark on the world map within research into the human genome. One of the first goals of the centre’s research is to prevent cancer by developing vaccines. “Beijing Genomics Institute Europe opened offices in Denmark last year, and we are ready to welcome more Chinese companies who are looking to gain a foothold in Europe. Why should they choose us? We are known for our competence, we have been doing research in the industry for nearly 100 years, we have goodwill and we work hard to promote ourselves out there,” concludes Ruth Klyver.
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By Charlotte Strøm, MD, PhD, Journalist Bioneer is dedicated to facilitate innovation. It is a research-based biomedical and biotechnological service provider located at Scion DTU Science Park in Hørs holm, Denmark. Fifty people – predominantly biomedical researchers and technicians – play a rather unique role as the partner of both academia and the biopharmaceutical industry. “Bioneer plays the role of an ‘innovation midwife’ so to speak. We assist the process of bringing biotechnological ideas into the world and enable their commercialisation,” says Niels Skjærbæk, Business Development Manager, Bioneer.
Accelerating new ideas Bioneer operates at the crossroads between biotech, academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies,
providing a range of different competences as well as insight into preclinical drug development. “Very few small biotech companies or academic research teams have the set-up to test a new idea or innovation for production optimisation or to test immunomodulating effects,” Niels Skjærbæk says, referring to Bioneer’s bacterial and mammalian cell production technology and the wide range of in vitro immunological models developed by Bioneer. Bioneer also assists established pharmaceutical companies with development projects and feasibility studies for production. “The collaboration with Bioneer adds value to our projects through their highly qualified input that brings out new aspects. Furthermore, the close interaction and dialogue with our researchers and technicians
• Bioneer A/S is a subsidiary of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and is approved by the Danish Ministry of Science and Technology as an authorised provider of technological services - a GTS entity. • The company was started 25 years ago. • Bioneer has state-of-the-art facilities in the Scion-DTU Science Park in Copenhagen.
speed up the process significantly,” says Kåre Hvalsøe Meno, Senior Project Manager, Global Innovation Management, ALK.
Innovation budding and networking This type of collaboration fosters even more innovation. “Typically, the problem-solving that takes place during a project brings out new ideas and new models to work with,” Niels Skjærbæk says. As a result, Bioneer has a significant patent portfolio
based on ideas that have emerged from previous and ongoing projects. Bioneer’s network branches out widely in Danish and European academia and it is helpful knowing which academic experts to turn to for second opinions, collaborations etc. The same goes for funding. “The people at Bioneer have an in-depth knowledge and overview of funding possibilities for early projects. That proved very helpful for us,” says Anders Mørkeberg Hinsby, CEO, Orphazyme.
Transparency Bioneer:FARMA is a business unit of Bioneer within drug formulation and delivery. It is based at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. Eight dedicated experts work closely with their customers keeping the lines of communication open for optimised and rapid results. “Our own experts are in close contact and dialogue regarding the activities outsourced to Bioneer:FARMA and they can see the progress for themselves rather than just reading the report. That is highly appreciated by our specialists,” says Lars Lindgaard Hansen, Associate Director, Biopharmaceutical Development at Nycomed. Bioneer has competences within a range of biotechnological areas: protein production, pharmaceutical analysis and formulation, immunologic models, biomarkers and stem cell technology. “We can help commercialise an existing technology or do product development from the very beginning. They are at opposite ends of the game, but our strength is that we match both of them with cutting-edge technology and solutions,” Niels Skjærbæk ends.
Photo: Bioneer AS
Bioneer is dedicated to facilitate innovation
Three Nobel Laureates to speak in Copenhagen Indulge your inner scientist and meet three Nobel Laureates in chemistry. Professors Ada Yonath, Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko will be speaking at the International Symposium on Protein Chemistry on 23-25 May 2011 at the University of Copenhagen. By Charlotte Strøm, MD, PhD, Journalist English language revision: CLS Communication A/S
An international faculty of speakers will cast light on the mysteries of protein chemistry and applications to combat diseases at a symposium entitled ‘Proteins, from creation to destruction – and what lies in between’. As a special treat to the delegates of the meeting, the Organising Committee proudly presents no less than three Nobel Laureates among the speakers. “This is an outstanding opportunity for researchers working with proteins, protein structures and technology in private and public
ogy. In 2009 Professor Yonath was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry together with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz for her studies in the structure and function of the ribosome. She is the first woman in 45 years to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Her work Internationally recognised also comprises projects focusing researchers on identifying how bacteria become The Nobel Laureates are Professor resistant to antibiotics. Ada Yonath from the Weizmann InIn 2004 Professors Ciechanover stitute of Science, Israel, Professor and Hershko were awarded the NoAaron Ciechanover and Professor bel Prize in chemistry together with Avram Hershko, both from TechIrvin Rose for their discovery of nion-Israel Institute of Technolubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. The ubiquitinproteasome pathkosmopol.nu way plays a critical role in maintaining the homeostasis of cells and is believed to be involved in the development and progression of diseases such as cancer, muscular A stunning backdrop for meetings and conferences and neurological diseases and im– in the very heart of Copenhagen mune and inflammatory responses. The symposium is the result of the joint effort and 4 conference rooms and a restaurant for up to 150 people initiative by the Kosmopol Fiolstræde 44 DK-1171 København K Tel. +45 3342 6608 firstname.lastname@example.org kosmopol.nu Danish Weizmann Society, Danish
organisations to hear some of the greatest researchers within protein chemistry speak,” says Bo Skaaning Jensen, PhD, Head of Alliance Management, Neurosearch and member of the Organising Committee.
From the left: Professor Avram Hershko, Professor Aaron Ciechanover and Professor Ada Yonath.
Friends of the University of Haifa and the University of Copenhagen. Several members of the Organising Committee have strong professional networks at the research institutions where the Nobel Laureates are currently conducting research.
Laureates in person, discuss research projects and potential opportunities for collaborations. If you are working in protein chemistry – you should not miss this,” he concludes.
WHEN: 23-25 May 2011 WHERE: University of Copenhagen, Lundbeck Foundation Auditorium, Ole Maaløes Vej 5, DK-2200 Copenhagen, Denmark
WHAT: International Symposium on Protein Chemistry – Applications to Combat Diseases, Copenhagen
In addition to the key note lectures given by the Nobel Laureates, the symposium features a long list of distinguished speakers from the USA, Germany and Denmark. And the programme also allows time for networking. Bo Skaaning Jensen, from the Organising Committee, thinks of it as a kind of well-organised professional speed dating: “There will be an opportunity to meet the Nobel
HOW: Online registration at biopeople. dk (mandatory). Participation in the symposium is free of charge except for an administration fee of DKK 200 (EUR 27)
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Life science conference in Tel Aviv with great potential On 23-25 May, 6,000 delegates from all over the world will gather in Tel Aviv for the 10th ILSI-BioMed conference on biopharmaceuticals and medical devices. The conference holds great potential for establishing partnerships and collaborations for companies located in Medicon Valley By Charlotte Strøm, MD, PhD, Journalist English language revision: CLS Communication A/S
Israel is growing into an important biotech cluster and has managed to position the country as such in a field of intense competition. The fact that Israel has the highest per capita number of Nobel Laureates reflects the resources that the Israeli government has put into research and development. Life science-related technologies have particular focus. The BioMed conference focuses on projects and technologies within pharma, biotechnology and medical devices. “Danish companies have special competences in these areas, and thus it makes perfect sense to look for col-
The Danish delegation at Biomed 2010. Jens Peter Vittrup, Special Advisor at the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DASTI) sits far left of bottom row.
laborations at this conference,” Jens Peter Vittrup says. Congress delegates can book one-on-one meetings with companies they find attractive for collaboration. During the week of the conference, 15-20 meetings are likely to take place, making it a very efficient method of matchmaking.
Facilitating research collaboration DASTI, in cooperation with Copenhagen Capacity and the Danish Embassy in Tel Aviv, is supporting participants in the Danish delegation with free access to the conference, a fully staffed Danish booth, matchmaking and networking, PR etc. “In cases where companies manage to find the perfect match for a research or development project, we further assist in guiding the partners through potential funding opportunities, e.g. Eurostars, EU Framework programmes or relevant national programmes,” says Jens Peter Vittrup, and continues: “Especially the small companies with only 10-15 employees benefit from this support and it may make a difference towards bringing them closer to various collaborations.” Since 2009 a Danish booth has been present at the BioMed conference, and as in previous years it is hosted by employees from DASTI, the Embassy, Copenhagen Capacity, BioPeople and Bioneer.
F A C T S
The BioMed 2011 life science conference taking place in Tel Aviv, Israel on 23-25 May could be the next stop for companies located in Medicon Valley looking for the right partner for research projects or commercialisation of existing products. Jens Peter Vittrup, Special Advisor at the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DASTI) is excited about the potential for Danish life science companies at the conference. He explains why: “There is a growing life science industry in Israel, particularly the small and mid-sized knowledge companies are in rapid growth. In many ways the biotech environment in Denmark and the whole Medicon Valley region is similar to that in Israel – and this is a good basis for establishing collaborations and partnerships.”
WHAT: ILSI BioMed 2011 – The 10th National Life Science and Technology Week WHEN: 23-25 May 2011 WHERE: Tel Aviv, Israel Join the Danish Delegation: http://www.ambtelaviv.um.dk/da/menu/ OmOs/Nyheder/Biomed2011.htm
Life Science Investment Day Scandinavia sets course for Skåne By Maria Kaaman, Communications Manager, SwedenBio Photo: SwedenBio
SwedenBio implemented a Life Science Investment Day Scandinavia in March for the sixth year in succession. It was very pleasing to note that this was an “all time high” in terms of the number of delegates, corporate presentations, presentations by international investors and partnership meetings. Nearly 300 delegates participated and 220 partnership meetings took place during the day in Stockholm. Twelve international investors presented their companies on the main stage, and their clear intention was to establish contact with other companies attending the meeting. We hope that some of the large number of partnership meetings will result in concrete business opportunities. Life Science Investment Day Scandinavia is SwedenBio’s key event for establishing business contacts for our members. We are looking forward to increased participation in March next year, when we will be basing Life Science Investment Day Scandinavia in Skåne, Southern Sweden, for the first time.
Need for long-term measures In the final panel discussion, we discussed the meltdown of the traditional venture capital model in our industry. There were mixed opinions about this, but we agreed that Life Science is a very special business area in terms of investment and that the need for long-term measures is of the utmost importance. The debate concluded that more realistic business models must be developed for biotech companies. Another key factor noted was that more than half the current consolidations and buyouts are carried out by parties other than Big Pharma. It was also noted that we must have the expertise to keep pace with increased regulatory requirements and plan for the concrete achievement of revenues. Jeremy Haigh, R&D Amgen’s International Chief Operating Officer, made a highly fruitful and inspiring presentation. He described Amgen’s development from a very small operation to the major international company it is today. He stressed that many factors – regulatory, financial, etc. – are much more complex than when Amgen was set up in the 1980s. Jeremy Haigh considered that it would probably not be feasible to establish a new Amgen. This is a challenge that we can accept.
High time to change the taxation At our homemarket in Sweden, we are getting a better response to crucial questions that involve our industry. In an article in Dagens Industri on 18 March,
Maria Kaaman, Communications Manager, SwedenBio: ”We are looking forward to increased participation in March next year, when we will be basing Life Science Investment Day Scandinavia in Skåne, Southern Sweden, for the first time.”
Jan Björklund observed that it is high time to change the taxation rules for key personnel in our knowledgeintensive society. As an example, he said that taxes for specialist experts must be simpler and more generous to avoid a brain-drain of researchers leaving the country, or foreigners who do not even consider the possibility of moving to Sweden. Björklund favours tax deductions for research donations and the introduction of R&D deductions for companies for which there is a long road from the original concept to successful marketing. He points out that such arrangements already apply in most other countries. It is pleasing to note that the questions raised by SwedenBio over the years are now being actively pursued and discussed by a member of the Cabinet.
Opportunity to present technology at Cancer event Medicon Valley Alliance (MVA) has teamed up with the European Cancer Cluster Partnering event (ECCP) in Toulouse, France, September 14-16, 2011. MVA is looking for innovative technologies within cancer research that can be
The European Cancer Cluster Partnering (ECCP) event is the oncology-partnering meeting in Europe for biotech, pharma, investors, clinicians and academia. ECCP off ers a vital networking arena for the oncology community in Europe and is the direct result of the close collaboration between two of Europe’s strongest cancer clusters, the French Cancer-Bio-Santé and the Norwegian Oslo Cancer Cluster. The ECCP events succeed in gathering the entire oncology value chain: Biotech-, diagnostic-, medical device- and drug delivery- companies, international biopharmaceutical industries, immunotherapy- and vaccine companies, university hospitals and cancer centres, venture capital, public investors and international clusters will meet to present and discuss their assets and build new partnerships. At ECCP2011 in Toulouse Medicon Valley Alliance will organize an oncology focused Technology Showcase with more than a 100 participants in conjunction with the ECCP. As part of the ABC Europe initiative this showcase will allow all European universities, research centres, technology transfer offi ces and SMEs to present innovative technologies within cancer research to an international business community. Maryland Biotechnology Centre has also teamed up with ECCP 2011. Together with US biotech companies as well as speakers from the NCI and the FDA, Maryland Biotechnology Centre will join the event to strengthen the collaboration between Europe and the US in oncology business development.
presented to an international business community.
Pierre Montoriol, President at Cancer-Bio-Santé, opening last years European Cancer Cluster Partnering.
In addition to focused partnering opportunities, the ECCP 2011 will present a broad program with an international range of speakers addressing the key issues in translational oncology through company presentations, case studies and panel discussions. The event in Toulouse is the third of its kind. ECCP2009 and ECCP2010 attracted clinicians, researchers, SMEs and major (bio) pharmaceutical companies from 22 countries, which resulted in more than 1.000 one-to-one meetings. Please fi nd more information on the ECCP2011 homepage: www.ecc-partnering.com.
For more information on the Technology Showcase focused on Oncology, please contact:
Pernille Aasholm Project Manager Medicon Valley Alliance E-mail: email@example.com Direct: (T) +45 3287 8012 (M) +45 2013 1301
Peter Nordström Senior Project Manager Medicon Valley Alliance E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (T) +45 3287 8007 (M) +45 4010 4145
A springboard to the future With its 50th birthday approaching, science park Scion DTU is one of the oldest and most focused concentration of knowledge companies in the world. With around 200 companies and approx. 4,000 employees distributed across three locations in Hørsholm, Lyngby and the newly started biotech science park COBIS in Copenhagen, Scion DTU is an important player in Danish innovation and business development. The science park is like a nesting ground for tomorrow’s life science, IKT and cleantech companies, which are to be the focal point of the Danish business community. And many of the companies stem from large well-established companies such as Chr. Hansen, Novo Nordisk and Lundbeck. Shortcuts to the whole world “Customer value is our main focus. The knowledge-based companies located here experience an increase in value when they move in. In Scion DTU they have easier access to the latest knowledge, advice and capital and we can draw on our strong contacts in the best universities, hospitals and industries both in Denmark and abroad,”
underlines Business Development Manager Torben Orla Nielsen. Likewise, small start-up companies can work in an environment where it is easier to break down the doors to the well-established companies and to the necessary venture capital, where Scion DTU also assists via its subsidiary DTU Symbion Innovation. Scion DTU will also host the annual, international science park conference in June 2011, where 700 delegates from the world’s science parks will be discussing the development of tomorrow’s companies. Heart of international research environment Scion DTU provides access to research facilities, such as testing and specialist laboratories worth over two billion Danish kroner, and the close collaboration with researchers and students of all nationalities from DTU generates an international and creative environment. “A number of companies have been started by researchers or students, and just as many job applicants come from the university because of DTU’s world-class research environment. We are also members of the Medicon Valley Alliance and have a close relationship with the medico companies and their customers at the big hospitals.
We sponsor Medicon Valley’s ambassador scheme and many international delegations visit us to see how we organise our medicocluster here in the Oresund region, as it is unrivalled in the rest of Europe” says Torben Orla Nielsen.
FACTS: SCION DTU Founded in 1962 in Hørsholm. Owned by DTU – Technical University of Denmark. Has facilities in Hørsholm, Lyngby and in COBIS, the Copenhagen-based science park that Scion DTU co-owns with Symbion. Scion DTU provides access to premises, laboratories, capital, conference centres and advice for cleantech, life science and IKT companies. 30 employees service approx. 200 companies with around 4,000 employees. With over 180,000 metres of floor space Scion DTU is Denmark’s largest science park. www.sciondtu.dk
Medicon Valley Online Your guide to life science in Medicon Valley By Martin Andersson Project and Systems Manager, Medicon Valley Alliance
With new organizations, drug compounds, contract services, jobs, and events created daily, Medicon Valley is in a constant state of change. How do you stay in-tune with these changes and fi nd information about potential business partners in the region? Medicon Valley Alliance has launched an online resource to help you with just that, it is called Medicon Valley Online.
The frontpage of www.mediconvalley.com
One of Medicon Valley Alliances key objectives is to deliver an overview to the life science industry in the region. This overview serves as a point of entry for both regional players but also for international players who are looking for partners or are interested in placing one of their departments or European headquarter in Medicon Valley. Medicon Valley Online (www.mediconvalleyonline.com) is made up of modules or sections, and plans are to incorporate new sections over time. Each section contains a list of entities with a toolbar on top. The toolbar can be used to fi lter or search the list for relevant entries in the section. Currently Medicon Valley Online encompasses four sections; Organizations, Drug Pipeline, Contract Services and Jobs. This article describes the type of information you can fi nd in each section.
Organizations The organizations section of Medicon Valley Online gives an overview of organizations and companies with
focus on or related to health science or the biomedical industry. Listed organisations are either located in the Medicon Valley region or are international members of Medicon Valley Alliance. The organizations are structured according to business categories like Biotech Company, Pharmaceutical Company, Medtech Company, Contract Research Organisation and Universities etc. These categories are selectable as fi lters in the red toolbar at the top of the list in the organizations section. If you want, you can also specify sub business categories and/or the location to get a list of all Biotech organizations working with Biologicals in Sweden for instance. Each organization is listed with details like business category, location and basic contact details. Members of Medicon Valley Alliance however have their own profi le page with a unique URL link and further information like a description, available contacts, a map of their location, a screenshot of their webpage and their logo. If the organization has related entries in the other sections of Medicon Valley Online such as compounds in drug development or available jobs at the job section, these will also be listed at the company profi le page.
Drug Pipeline The Drug pipeline section of Medicon Valley Online lists drug compounds in clinical development by Biotech and Pharmaceutical companies located in Medicon Valley. As there are international organizations in Medicon Valley, only compounds that have their clinical development managed or administered from a site within Medicon Valley are listed in the section. The compounds in the section are structured accord-
Type of organisations Support Structure Organisation
Public Organisation Pharmaceutical Company
Laboratory Services and Supplies
Investor and Business Developer
Contract Reserch Organisation Contract Manufacturing Organisation
Business Service Provider Biotech Company Academic Institution
In total almost 400 organisations are registered at Medicon Valley Online in 11 different business segments.
ing to the disease area and indication of ongoing trials of that compound. Medicon Valley Online uses the same structure of diseases and indications as clinicaltrials.gov (ClinicalTrials.gov is a registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world). In the toolbar you can also fi lter the list on a specifi c drug development phase or type of development the compound is undergoing. For example Medicon Valley Online can give you all compounds with
trials in Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases in phase II where the developing organization is looking for a partner for co-development of that compound.
Each member of Medicon Valley Alliance has a profile page with information on compounds, services and personnel.
The Drug Pipeline section of Medicon Valley Online provides an overview on indications of compounds by biotech and pharmaceutical organizations in Medicon Valley.
Contract Services The section of contract services at Medicon Valley Online shows available contract research and manufacturing services by organizations in Medicon Valley. This section is intended for drug developing organizations that are
Indications in disease areas Cancers and Other Neoplasms
Immune System Diseases
Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases
Behaviors and Mental Disorders
Nervous System Diseases
Bacterial and Fungal Diseases 1
Gland and Hormone Related Diseases
Skin and Connective Tissue Diseases
Blood and Lymph Conditions
Symptoms and General Pathology
3 1 1
Infuries, Poisonings, and Occupational...
Urinary Tract, Sexual Organs, and...
Muscle, Bone, and Cartilage Diseases
Diseases and Abnormalities at or before......
Respiratory Tract (Lung and Bronchial)...
Digestive System Diseases
Heart and Blood Diseases
1 1 1
Number of compound indications per disease area presently registered at Medicon Valley Online. Depicted compound indications are from both Biotech and Pharmaceutical organizations in Medicon Valley.
looking to outsource parts of the development, clinical research or e.g. manufacturing of a drug compound. The contract services are structured according to the drug development value chain. Each service is applicable to one or several sections of the value chain. With the help of the toolbar you can fi lter the services depending on your interest in any of the following main stages; Discovery, Pre-clinical, Chemical Manufacturing and Control, Clinical and Post Approval. In this section of Medicon Valley Online you can for instance browse all pre-clinical services applicable within Toxicology studies for your project.
Jobs The jobs section of Medicon Valley Online is developed in collaboration with Monster which is one of the largest international career networks in the world. The section provides a list of available jobs within health science and the biomedical industry in the region of Medicon Valley. This collaboration entitles members of Medicon Valley Alliance to advertise job positions at Monster and Medicon Valley Online for a fraction of the ordinary price. Each position listed at Medicon Valley Online has a short description, the type of position (Permanent/tem-
The Organisations section gives an overview of life science related organizations in Medicon Valley.
The Contract Services section of Medicon Valley Online is intended for drug developing organizations that are looking to outsource development, clinical research e.g. manufacturing.
The jobs section gives the user an overview of available jobs related to life science in the region of Medicon Valley.
porary and Full-time/part-time ) as well as an external link to further information about the position.
For further information, inputs on usability or future sections of Medicon Valley Online please contact the project manager:
Keep your profile up-to-date at Medicon Valley Online Does your organization work within or focus on the life science industry? If so, chances are that you are already registered at Medicon Valley Online. But to make the most out your advertisement space on Medicon Valley Online we encourage you to sign in and check so that your profi le is up-to-date.
Martin Andersson Project and Systems Manager Mobile: +46 701 750053 Direct: +45 3287 8006 E-mail: email@example.com
Your preferred partner when your Life Science recruitments are crucial Contact Kjeld Birch, MD Managing partner +45 4054 2440
Photo: Swedish Ministry of Education and Research
Investment in first-class research environments ponents are essential for success, and cooperation between all three is also necessary.
ESS and Max IV
One of the strongest research regions in Europe, and the prime location in the Nordic countries. That is what I think about when people refer to the Öresund region. According to Jan Björklund, the Swedish Minister of Education and holder of the Life Science relay baton in Medicon Valley, Medicon Valley is already a successful concept, but there is also potential to become even better.
With twelve universities and university colleges in the Öresund region – which is a relatively limited geographical area – it is hardly surprising that the volume of research conducted is extremely extensive. Some of the higher education institutions are world class, for example the Copenhagen and Lund universities (incidentally both of them are also the largest universities in Denmark and Sweden, respectively). As a result, the Öresund region and Medicon Valley are the prime research region in the Nordic countries, and one of the most vital centres in a European context. It is not enough merely to offer a university, healthcare or business option if we want to achieve the position acquired by Medicon Valley in the life science field. All three com-
On a global scale, both Sweden and Denmark are investing the highest proportion of public funds in research. In our most recent Research Bill, presented in 2008, the annual allocation was augmented by SEK 5 billion. There has never before been an increase in resources on this scale. In addition, we are rewarding quality to a greater extent than in the past – for example research funding is allocated between higher education institutions on the basis of the highest quality achievement. Another new approach is what is referred to as “strategic areas”. We have identified a number of subject areas or – in point of fact – problems that need to be solved, and we are investing additional funds in first-class research environments to tackle these problems. A number of these problem areas are in the medical sector, for example diabetes and cancer. Both these new approaches favour Medicon Valley, where Lund University is particularly well placed. In addition, over the next few years the Government will be funding investments of several billion kronor in the research infrastructure, and two facilities are currently under construction in Skåne in southern Sweden. Max IV, which is one of these initiatives, will be the most powerful synchrotron light unit in Europe. Synchrotron light – light in a very narrow wavelength spectrum – enables us to study the structure of matter at the atomic level. As a result, Max IV is highly relevant in
structural biology, for example to study the way in which a protein folds itself, and Max IV’s predecessor has been used for some time by both Danish and Swedish pharmaceutical companies.
“ In many respects, better cooperation between universities, hospitals and companies is required for further development of the region” ESS – the European Spallation Source – is the other major facility. ESS employs neutrons in the study of the structure of materials and the way they work. Such materials may range from motors to archaeological discoveries, but pharmaceuticals will constitute a major proportion of this activity. It is estimated that ESS will cost EUR 1.5 billion and, although several countries will be making financial contributions, Sweden and Denmark will defray the major part of the costs. This is the largest research project ever built in our vicinity and it will bind our two countries closer. Max IV and ESS will supplement each other, and the region will become a centre for materials research, including pharmaceuticals. These research facilities will reinforce Medicon Valley’s position and, in addition, will establish new meeting places for researchers from universities and the business world.
Better cooperation In many respects, better cooperation between the universities, hospitals and companies will be required for further development of
the region. This may be a question of physical meeting places to establish cross-border contacts and to ensure the achievement of synergy effects that were not originally anticipated. It also involves a positive attitude on the part of higher education institutions to persons who have been active outside the universities at some point in the course of their careers – not merely the research results achieved within the four walls of the institution concerned but also experience acquired in other contexts. I believe that the universities’ previous somewhat sceptical attitude to industry is changing, but we are not there yet. But the decisive factor for the life-science sector is clearly clinical research and its prerequisites. A key piece of the puzzle in this context is opportunities to conduct clinical tests in the healthcare sector, both in the major hospitals and in conjunction with smaller private operations.
To some extent, this is because reviews conducted by county councils do not function in an optimal manner today. In principle, the only medical policy objectives that have attracted attention in recent years involve accessibility and product ivity. There is no scope for clinical considerations if a doctor is solely assessed on the basis of how many patients he or she treats per day. County councils may sometimes need to adopt a more positive attitude to research and, in the long term, this is clearly important for their own operations. It is easy to refer to visions and what needs to be changed, but ultimately practical obstacles tend to prevent cross-border cooperation. If public transport across the Öresund link ceases to function and if social security and tax systems fail to take commuting into account, we cannot regard the Öresund region and Medicon Valley as a single entity. But, if we can solve the practical problems and tie the academic
Baton with Points of View ”The Baton” is a Point of View feature about life science in Medicon Valley. It is written by business people, researchers, politicians and opinion-shapers with a personal and extensive commitment to Medicon Valley. The holder of the Baton passes it on to a new person along with one or more questions related to life science in Medicon Valley.
world, industry and healthcare services more closely together, Medicon Valley will have excellent prere quisites in the future as a prominent research region. Jan Björklund would like to pass on his relay baton to Colin Carlile (the President of ESS AB) with the message “What will ESS mean for life science in the region?”
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Swedish and Danish register research Health documentation is world class in the MVA Region. Prospective collection of health care data in Sweden and Denmark offers unique opportunities for conducting high-quality clinical and epidemiological research in the region. By Charlotte Strøm, MD, PhD, Journalist English language revision: CLS Communication A/S
Diligent and thorough – that is how every piece of information on diagnoses, hospital admissions, surgeries and causes of death is collected prospectively about any person living in Denmark and Sweden. Data collection is mandatory and complete and carried out on a national or regional basis in both Denmark and Sweden. Each inhabitant in Denmark or Sweden has a unique personal registration code, the central personal registration number, which can be coupled to information on health status. In mortality studies, data completeness is a cornerstone. This is where the patient and health care registries play a particularly valuable role. Missing data lower the quality of the study – and weaken the conclusions. Thus protection from data loss is a major advantage in large-scale outcome studies where patients are typically followed until they meet a socalled hard end point, e.g. death. One example is the effect of pharmaceutical intervention, e.g. statins, on cardiovascular events, including death. A study of this type will cover more than a thousand patients. Patients that are lost-follow-up within the context of the study resemble missing data. Hence the ability of tracing people to check if they have died is a significant advantage.
Nordic culture on personal registration The registries have a long tradition and some go back many years. In
1871 it became mandatory to complete death certificates in Denmark and the Cause of Death Register was started in 1943. However, registering personal information about health, hospitalisations and diseases may seem quite radical. Some may argue against it as this information is ultimately private. Secret registration of personal information has taken place in Europe after World War II, and when the practice has been uncovered, the populations affected by it have had a tendency to lose confidence in the authorities and take positions against automatic registration of personal information. “In this part of the world, in Scandinavia, personal registration has fortunately always been fairly undramatic. This is reflected by the fact that people generally have a high level of confidence in the authorities,” says Dorte Hansen Thrige, Head of Division at the Danish National Board of Health. The National Board of Health is the public institution that collects information from every hospital in Denmark on admissions, diagnoses, surgeries, causes of deaths etc.
Data completeness How is it ensured that the data reported are complete? Dorte Hansen Thrige comments on that issue: “We have two paths for data collection, mandatory and voluntary. The latter can be used when there is a specific interest in focusing on
surveillance of a particular area. However, the hospitals altogether are involved in determining the composition of the data collection - this also applies to the mandatory part.” She believes that the early involvement of clinicians can have an influence on the data collection that can be useful in several settings and that this is the ideal model of governance.
Focus on research The purpose of the registries and data collection originates in the administrative and educational need to learn more about diseases and their outcomes. It is also used for healthcare planning and activity assessment. Moreover, it is the foundation of a strong tradition for registry research. The Danish National Board of Health provides a special research service which can extract data that are requested by researchers. “Any researcher with a valid hypothesis and approval from the Danish Data Protection Agency can purchase specific data sets,” says Dorte Hansen Thrige, describing the research service provided by the institution. Five people work full time to provide this service and since it was launched in 2000, it has become quite successful. “The initiative was based on a political demand for increased openness in the public administration and we see it as a success because
it has legitimised the researchers’ needs for data,” she says, adding: “And why shouldn’t it be used for research purposes. It makes perfectly sense, because the information is readily there and available.” Currently, the research service at the Danish National Board of Health delivers more than 500 data sets per year.
Registries coupled to biobanks Similar initiatives are being undertaken with the Swedish counterpart of the MVA Region. Photo: ScandinavianStockPhoto In Region Skåne the health care information on inhabitants is collected in a similar manner, systematically and consistently. Again, there is more to it than just pooling data, because registry research has become a strategic research area at Lund’s University. A reflection of the high priority of the topic is its ability to attract competent researchers to the university. Dean Bo Ahrén from the Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, points to a further advantage of the Swedish registries: “Some of our registries are coupled to the biobanks, allowing for more in-depth questions and answers in human medicine,” Bo Ahrén says. The health documentation provides information that can be used for clinical research as well as health care planning and clinical quality assessment and development. Anders Thulin, MD and Medical Director in Region Skåne, is heading a group of five physicians who work specifically with implementing the knowledge and learnings from the Swedish registries. “You could call it adapted evidence-based medicine. The point is that the data extracted from the registries is used to improve patient care at the hospitals,” Anders Thulin says. He gives an example of how the registry data revealed quite quickly that a particular hip prosthesis being used at the orthopaedic departments in the region tended to come loose and fail. “This trend was spotted rapidly based on the reported registry data, and served as an example of how the results of the quality work can be implemented promptly,” he says. A national investigation has recently emphasised the high value of the health registries in Sweden for continued development of clinical quality and development of patient care as the primary purpose of the registries. Secondarily, the analysis reveals that the registries are
of great interest to the life science industry, and for this purpose data protection is handled and ensured by the Region which is the owner of the registries. “The quality of the registries has proven to be very useful in our own quality work and assessments, but also in the fact that external parties such as pharmaceutical companies show increasing interest in registry data,” Anders Thulin says. The Swedish registry data can also be accessed by external parties. A control body for each registry evaluates the research project and grants the approval for data extraction.
Need for registry data post marketing Regulatory authorities increasingly and continuously request follow-up data from pharmaceutical companies when marketing authorisations are granted for new medicinal products. Hence, the need for post-authorisation studies, follow-up studies as well as safety surveillance studies increases the interest from pharmaceutical companies in the Danish and Swedish patient registries. The validity and high quality of the prospectively and systematically collected data is a competitive advantage compared to other parts of the world. “The registries in Sweden and Denmark contain data of very high quality and completeness. Furthermore, the approval process is professional, which makes data access relatively uncomplicated. Altogether, this is an enormous benefit to epidemiologists and pharmaceutical companies doing registry follow-up or research,” says Michael Busch-Sørensen, MD, Research Director heading Nordic Epidemiology and Registries at MSD. He has worked with epidemiologic research at MSD for 15 years and he has observed that pharmaceutical companies increasingly understand the benefit of this information. The large-scale registry studies on HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine preventing cervical cancer conducted by MSD in close collaboration with epidemiologists in the Nordic countries serves as an example of how the registries can be used. Around 10,000 females in the Nordic Countries vaccinated with HPV vaccine are being followed. “There is a great deal of highly valuable information in the Danish and Swedish health care registries in general – and the cancer registries are really state-of-the-art,” Michael Busch-Sørensen concludes.
Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull
Now or never for Medicon Valley Medicon Valley is at a crossroads. The potential for growth is there, but if the region does not obtain the necessary capital and the right political support, development will cease and the downward spiral begin. CEO of Medicon Valley Alliance, Stig Jørgensen, has two outlooks: Success and failure – and it could easily be either one.
By Marianne Barfod
WHEN MEDICON VALLEY was defined as a life science cluster over 10 years ago, optimisation and growth were endemic within biotechnology, the pharmaceutical companies and research. The Danish and Swedish biotechnology companies have since entered an ever stronger international competition to acquire capital, and this in the wake of a financial crisis. If the necessary numbers are not found, what was started but has yet to be finished will simply tumble – and the opportunity will have passed by, never to return again, believes Stig Jørgensen, CEO of Medicon Valley Alliance. “There are some positives, such as Symphogen’s recently raised capital of DKK 750 million, but the financing situation for many life science companies in the region remains a fundamental issue. This is also a societal problem for both Denmark and Sweden. The life science industry, which includes biotechno logy, pharmaceuticals and medical technology, is constantly highlighted as the very locomotive that will
ensure future growth. If the necessary capital is not raised, the many billions of kroner already invested in the form of public and private research funds will simply go down the pan. This does not mean the public Denmark and Sweden has to finance the missing capital in the companies, but is rather a case of optimising the conditions for the life science industry, as well as becoming much better at marketing our skills in Medicon Valley internationally,” says Stig Jørgensen.
Billions short If the research environment disappears into the undergrowth of small biotechnological businesses in Medicon Valley, it will pose a significant problem for the larger, heavyweight research-based companies. They are dependent on the undergrowth for suppliers of competent researchoriented employees. The smaller life science companies in Medicon Valley currently need a figure in the billions in order to progress their projects over the next four to
five years. Developing medicine is extremely costly and requires massive investments over many years. This is illustrated by Symphogen’s latest capital injection of DKK 750 million. “Here is just one company that has raised capital to drive their project forward, but many other companies face the same challenge. Many of the Medicon Valley companies have come so far that their projects are about to enter phase 2, and now need to find investors that believe in their idea/project enough to invest. It may be a case of investments of this size not being available in Denmark and Sweden. Companies in Medicon Valley are dependent on attracting foreign investment.” says Stig Jørgensen.
Necessary tax incentives The key challenge is that Medicon Valley is under pressure from a global perspective . Resources have become more mobile and the region has to compete for the same meagre capital and human resources as at least 250 other life science clusters all over the world.
“We need greater support from the politicians in Denmark and Sweden. If Medicon Valley is to compete with international players, it is essential that we have competitive conditions for the life science industry. Tax incentives are equally important for small research-based companies. These can give biotechnology companies a muchneeded buffer in their budgets while they complete their projects,” says Stig Jørgensen. He points to the fact that investors look towards countries such as the UK, France, Holland, Canada, the US and Norway, where rules have been introduced that allow small research-based companies to have up to 50% of their research costs directly refunded by the state as opposed to having the same costs deducted through corporate tax later. Stig Jørgensen also adds that politicians on the Danish and Swedish side need to create a common vision and strategy for Medicon Valley. “We need to agree across Øresund what the longterm goal of Medicon Valley is. Where do we want to be in ten years, where are our positions of strength and what can we expect in the future?”
Common ground in the industry Meanwhile the life science industry itself requires a greater common ground for the Medicon Valley project. ”The point of the Medicon Valley region is of course that all life science companies are part of an environ-
MEDICON VALLEY’S GREATEST CHALLENGES Pia Kinhult, Regional Commissioner, Skåne, Sweden
“We have what it takes to become a still stronger global player in the field of life science. But if the life science industry is to be capable of attracting the world’s attention, its orders and its money, there is a need, not least, for better cooperation between the countries in the region allied to a common branding – much more far-reaching than we see today”. “I am sorry to say that I think I have seen an inclination for people, both in Sweden and in Denmark, figuratively to sit in their own rooms to work things out. I am not sure what this is due to, but the reason for this tendency may be that the penny is beginning to drop that we are facing major challenges in the form of global competition. In that situation a natural reflex may be to safeguard our own interests. But what we really need to do is exactly the opposite, namely to expand cooperation between countries and to listen more closely at all levels, not least where public sector and political agencies are concerned.”
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ment where they can attract interesting business partners, customers and qualifi ed employees, as well as develop fruitful relationships with the universities and hospitals. We must create better conditions for the life science environment to work across the Oresund. Currently neither the Danish nor Swedish sides of Medicon Valley know enough about what is happening within research and development on each other’s turf. This also applies to the many exploited synergy opportunities between research clusters in Skåne and Zealand.”
World-class beacons Of signifi cant strength for Medicon Valley are the region’s opportunities to cultivate new innovative areas. Two important projects are already in the pipeline. At Lund University in Sweden, completion of MAX-lab IV is expected in three years. Equally the European research facility European Spallation Source (ESS), also at Lund, is
expected to open in 2019. Both research facilities have the potential to boost the local research environment in Medicon Valley significantly and to attract a large number of researchers from abroad. Medicon Valley Alliance has also started a process of identifying particular “research beacons” in the region. The idea is that Medicon Valley should stand out as a specialist within a number of areas, “beacons”, where the region becomes world-class and thereby demonstrates its potential. “In order to be really competent on an international scale we must identify four to fi ve areas in which we can be world-class,” says Stig Jørgensen. An example of a research beacon could be to gather all the many competences that the region has within the administration of medicine, especially drug delivery. “In the Medicon Valley we have a large number of players who have unique skills when it comes to developing
How can Medicon Valley continue to be attractive to Life Science companies in the future? DANIEL SPASIC, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, TFS INTERNATIONAL
THE BEST SCIENCE FROM TWO NATIONS Medicon Valley has the uniqueness to combine the best research and science from two nations and to package this under the Medicon Valley umbrella. A contributing success to Medicon Valley is the impressing ability to fi nd productive solutions and opportunities between diff erent agendas among national and local politicians, academic institutions and universities and the large life science industry in the region. This uniqueness makes it possible to facilitate the different interests between the stakeholders in a very speedy fashion that will be benefi cial in the long run for all parties. Furthermore the Life Science Ambassador Programme also shows the importance of Medicon Valley in opening up its boarders to the remaining global life science industry in order to find opportunities and best practices outside the region that most likely also will have a positive impact on the region itself.
TORSTEN FRELTOFT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MSC, PH.D., SOPHION
A SMALL LOCAL INTERNATIONAL COMPANY As a small, local company with headquarters in Ballerup, we are dependent on access to talent, investment and fl exible infrastructure. Medicon Valley’s network of Life Science companies helps to create a focus on the industry. Students are time and time again reminded of the exciting career opportunities available locally. Investors become interested in specialising in Life Science, as it off ers a wide choice of exciting players and the opportunity of large returns. Medicon Valley’s physical location is combined with a well-functioning infrastructure that includes trains and a metro system, the Oresund Bridge, and of course Kastrup International airport. However, Medicon Valley’s perspective is not just local. Sophion Biosciences is present in 10 of the world’s 12 largest pharmaceutical companies. Our key customers are based in the US, Europe, Japan and China. A strong Medicon Valley in the Oresund region therefore not only has a local resonance, but an international one. Without access to the international talent, international investors and strong infrastructure, we would presumably not have been voted Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010.
devices for the administration of medicine, such as new ways of changing the physical-chemical properties – to guide the new medicine into the body and to the part where it will work best for patients. Add these technologies to the opportunities that the ESS system provides for developing completely new materials – then we have something we can really call world-class. It could be of enormous interest to investors and to a large number of specialist fi elds. That is why we need four to fi ve beacons that we can focus on”, says Stig Jørgensen.
International branding Selling Medicon Valley to foreign investors and recruiting the ne cessary foreign workforce requires strong international branding of the region. With this aim Medicon Valley Alliance has developed the Life Science Ambassador Programme. The aim of the programme is to establish partnerships with innovative and leading life science clusters in North America, Asia and Europe. Medicon Valley Alliance posts Life Science Ambassadors to foreign clusters for a period of three years, and the foreign clusters post ambassadors to Medicon Valley. Medicon Valley Alliance currently has Life Science Ambassadors posted in Japan, South Korea, the US and Canada and hosts a Life Science Ambassador from British Columbia, Canada. “The ambassadors create a network of contacts and
relationships that can be used to help companies and universities in Medicon Valley establish new international partnerships. We need an international contribution to the research environment in the region. Meanwhile, the rest of the world needs to know about the opportunities available in Medicon Valley,” says Stig Jørgensen.
The best are the first to go “We have so many other benefi ts to off er, so it seems absurd not to change the conditions – because that is something we can act upon ourselves. But if we don’t then we cannot move forward. And then we will see the most competitive companies leave, for example, for the US, where conditions will match the challenges. Biotechnology companies are easy to relocate, and that will be the start of a downward spiral. The best ones will be the fi rst to go.” ”Now is the time we have the power to change things. Once the region has deteriorated, it will be impossible to change course. So we are up against the wall here – and will not get another chance. We have reached a critical point in an industry that we have been proud of for a long time both in Denmark and Sweden. Now is the time to act if we don’t want to see the industry signifi cantly reduced, or maybe even disappear”, concludes Stig Jørgensen.
Looking for Exposure? RASK Media and Medicon Valley Alliance cooperate to publish the magazine LifeSciences Insight. LifeSciences Insight is the primary mouthpiece for the Medicon Valley region’s many companies and organisations within biotech, medtech and pharma as well as companies who have this segment as their customers or suppliers.
DISTRIBUTION In addition to interesting and updated articles about the conditions of the industry, LifeSciences Insight gives companies in the region a unique opportunity to brand themselves both nationally and internationally. With its thoroughly selected distribution network, LifeSciences Insight is the ultimate and optimum opportunity to present one’s company. LifeSciences Insight is distributed in Denmark and Sweden to: • • • • •
Named decision-makers in the life sciences industry Investors Science parks Hospitals Universities
• Life science media
• Relevant MPs in Scandinavia • Medicon Valley Alliance’s members and collaboration partners • Relevant national and international trade fairs, conferences and exhibitions in Europe, North America and Asia
Next edition: August 2011
CONTACT/SALES Would you like to know more?
Please contact: RASK Media Sales Department · Phone: +45 2887 0776 · E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Denmark
www.RASKmedia.com Biotech Companies 1
Medicon Valley has to run a different race Globalization puts Medicon Valley under enormous pressure. A new Beacon Initiative focuses on how Medicon Valley can become one of the world’s most attractive regions in the future. “It is necessary for the region to run a different race”, was one of the key messages at a recent workshop dealing with the future of Medicon Valley. By Claus Clausen Photo: Steven Christensen Future challenges were top of the agenda when Medicon Valley Alliance recently held a workshop focusing on the future of Medicon Valley. If the Medicon Valley is to remain an attractive region for life science in the years to come, it is high time to become more focused and increase cooperation across Øresund. If this does not happen, Medicon Valley will lag even
further behind in competition among the well over 250 other Life Science clusters around the world. This is the challenge that Medicon Valley Alliance, Copenhagen Business School, and numerous other stakeholders from the Øresund Region are addressing in a new Beacon Iniative aiming to sharply improve the international attractiveness of Medicon Valley
Fierce competition Professor Daved Barry, Copenhagen Business School, predicts that competition for talent, ideas and capital will become even tougher in the future. – There are over 250 Life Science Clusters and more to come. As regions look to invest in clean, high margin, high growth areas, Life Sci-
Pia Kinhult, Regional Commissioner for the Skåne region, and Bertel Haarder, The Danish Minister of Health and Interior.
ence is a highly preferred alternative. Newcomer regions will variously have deep pockets, lower costs, and will compete on price, wages, and regulatory incentives to gain footholds. Given their heavy investments, they will hang on despite poor returns, Daved Barry said at the workshop. He also drew attention to the fact that older regions make unusual moves; e.g the strategic alliances between UK’s Golden Triangle, Boston/MassBio and San Francisco/BayBio. According to Daved Barry Medicon Valley will have difficulties competing to become the best. – Competing to become the best is about assimilating, attaining, and extending best practice. You have to run the same race faster. This might be difficult for Medicon Valley. I think Medicon Valley must instead compete on being unique and this is about strategic positioning: You choose to run a different race. But even if you choose to run a different race, you still have to run it very well. In that way you do indeed become the best.
Networking: In the middle Erik van Snippenberg, SVP and Area Director, North West Europe, from GlaxoSmithKline, who gave his view on how Medicon Valley can become a more attractive investment object for Big Pharma.
International significance Stig Jørgensen, CEO of Medicon Valley Alliance, pointed out that the Life Science organizations in Medicon Valley compete in a global market where one of the most important factors for success is the ability to attract and retain skilled life science experts. This is why Medicon Valley Alliance is now launching a new “Beacon Initiative”, which shall help Medicon Valley “run a different race”. – To attract the world’s best scientists and experts, our local universities must interact with private companies to provide a research and teaching environment that is internationally competitive and secures optimal individual opportunities for foreigners. For this reason, there is a need for a shared approach for Medicon Valley with the aim of identifying, benchmarking, and developing a number of distinct research and business areas or environments of international significance; areas which can also be branded internationally. We call these areas “beacons”, signposts that say “we are here, on strong ground”, Stig Jørgensen said.
– Denmark and Sweden compete against other large and fast-growing economies. At GSK we receive many telephone calls from China and India, but we don’t get that many from Denmark and Sweden. On a regular basis we are also contacted by other European governments who are more aggressive in their efforts to attract investments. This ”scolding” was followed up in a humouristic way by two top politicians at the workshop, Pia Kinhult, Regional Commissioner for the Skåne region, and Bertel Haarder, The Danish Minister of Health and Interior. – I can assure you that I will call you, Bertel Haarder announced, and Pia Kinhult asked for Erik van Snippenberg’s business card. Medicon Valley Alliance will now initiate a beacon process where the first step will be focused on gathering information on strategic assets in the Medicon Valley, market needs, and future trends. This activity will form the basis for a new workshop outlining the future potential beacons in Medicon Valley.
Openness and cooperation At the workshop, Erik van Snippenberg, SVP and Area Director, North West Europe, from GlaxoSmithKline, gave his view on how Medicon Valley can become a more attractive investment object for Big Pharma. – No doubt top quality medical research and clinical experiments are conducted in Medicon Valley. However, there is a need for more openness among politicians for cooperation with the pharmaceutical industry. It is also necessary to create the right framework conditions. Among other matters investments in clinical trials are necessary, just as you have to look into regulatory barriers and the need for tax incentives, Erik van Snippenberg said. He pointed out that in a global context Medicon Valley is a minor player. Therefore it is also crucial that the Danish and Swedish politicians to a larger extent are proactive and take contact to the industry.
Future challenges were top of the agenda at the workshop focusing on Medicon Valley.
Better branding needed for Medicon Valley We have not been good enough at branding Medicon Valley. The Swedish Minister for Trade, Eva Björling, believes that by improving our branding, the Danish–Swedish life science alliance will easily rank among the best in the world. By Marianne Barfod WHEN THE DANISH–SWEDISH life science alliance was founded, the potential for growth was omnipresent. The financial crisis has since dawned, but so have new dynamic and competent research environments across the world. Competition is fierce and the ‘old’ countries no longer hold the monopoly on being the best. In just a few years, the Copenhagen-Lund region has fallen from 15th to 22nd position in the list of the world’s most important research centres. “The present challenge for Medicon Valley is to compete with more than 250 other clusters all over the world. Competition is very fierce because companies no longer look at the location of a potential partner, only at the partnership potential. Previously, European companies focused on other European and North American companies; clusters like ours are now widespread, such as in India and China. And it is not a given thing that we will be noticed,” says Swedish Minister for Trade Eva Björling.
“One of our biggest tasks is to ensure that more scientists are educated in business management and learn how to create a business and company based on their own research results”, says Eva Björling, Swedish Minister for Trade
Photo: Swedish Ministry for Trade
Good conditions for growth Although it is obvious to the Swedish Minister for Trade why business is currently a struggle for some of the life science companies in the Oresund region, she does not see any reason for throwing the towel in just yet. Instead we will need to work even harder if the region is to remain in the game. “There are many exciting projects and companies in our cluster, but it is clear that we need to do more to get Medicon Valley up to speed. I think the conditions for growth in Medicon Valley are really good. There is the right composition of companies, there are all types of life science companies here, and all the qualified employees
are based in the region. Capital is currently in short supply due to the financial crisis, but it is the same the world over. It is clear, however, that we need to speed up and create new projects and companies,” says Eva Björling and continues:
Not innovative enough “Sweden is one of the most innovative countries in the world, but unfortunately not innovative enough when it comes to creating new companies based on what we develop. And that is a problem we need to tackle much harder. One of our biggest tasks is to ensure that more scientists are educated in business management and learn how to create a business and company based on their own research results”, says Eva Björling.
Cheap patents Another way of creating more results and new companies is, according to the minister, by helping up and
coming companies gain European patents faster and more costeffectively. “We must make scientific discovery attractive. It must be easier and cheaper to find European patents. It is currently far too expensive and difficult. We also need to look at the tax system for small companies”, Eva Björling adds.
general trend is to look towards new areas, which is why we should present the Nordics as one of the strongest environments for research and development. We enjoy a high position on so many levels, including the forthcoming major European Spallation Source in Lund, which will attract scientists from all over the world,” says Eva Björling.
For the Swedish Minister of Trade, focus on small to medium-sized businesses ready for growth is important and should not be done in isolation in each country. Eva Björling believes the time has come for the Nordics to stand united and present the Nordic region as a dynamic entity. “On their own our countries are small, but united we represent a very well-developed society. We should present ourselves as a united Nordic society that has plenty to offer.” “When it comes to research the
“We have neglected the Nordic brand. There are probably many in Asia who have no idea of what goes on here. They must learn to look in our direction. We therefore have a major task ahead of us, of branding our countries, our capacity and our competences. We are among the most innovative countries in the world. We are brilliant within medical science and life science. We also provide a good work/life balance, we live in amazing countries, but we have not spread the word well enough. This is our task now”, says Eva Björling.
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A great opportunity Medicon Valley represents an enormous opportunity for life science companies and universities in the Oresund region, but according to Asger Aamund, the project has not taken off because the politicians who should have created the necessary conditions for growth and drive did not spot the opportunity, and it was consequently missed. By Marianne Barfod
Chairman of Bavarian Nordic, Asger Aamund
In Asger Aamund’s view, the DanishSwedish life science collaboration of Medicon Valley is a nice concept. The problem is that the risk of Medicon Valley never amounting to more than a worthless concept is increasing, because the fundamental prerequisites for growth are simply nonexistent. ”Everyone knows that Medicon Valley has to compete with similar centres elsewhere in the world, including the new boom centres. Geography is no longer relevant. Singapore lies in Malmö – there is no geographic protection against competition, so it is all the more important for the synergy between society, universities and industry to work – without this we will not have the dynamic growth we so despe rately need,” says Asger Aamund.
Triple helix For growth to succeed, there are three main players that must be able to deliver their best – and they must do this both on their own and together. Like the three musketeers, the politicians, universities and industry need to form a spiral to drive growth.
break their dependence on the finance law. We also need tax reform,” says Asger Aamund and continues: “We can’t have high marginal tax rates and still believe we can attract researchers from e.g. the US, where tax is half what it is here”.
Elitism and growth funds “The politicians must also have the courage to make our education system more elitist – and this should apply all the way from secondary school and upwards. We must raise the level of education and our ambitions. It is not enough to be content with small improvements. And politicians must ensure that private equity funds are created, which can contribute robust funding for the new growth companies that are the foundation of our future prosperity.” He repeats: “We need political purpose and courage to liberate the universities, we need tax reform, so that we can align our tax levels with those of the EU and rest of the world, and politicians must be brave enough to make education more elitist.”
Universities’ contribution Set universities free “It is the politicians’ job to give the universities the maximum room to manoeuvre. They can achieve this by liberating the universities and thus
According to Asger Aamund, the universities need, as independent institutions, to provide world class teaching and research. They have to be able to compete on an
equal footing with the world’s elite, Princeton, Harvard etc. Then they will start to attract the best lecturers. “The universities must also provide projects that can be connected to the growth companies. The universities must be able to describe and patent their projects so that those of us in researching companies are able to connect with the projects and help take advantage of and commercialise the universities’ knowledge and discoveries,” he adds and continues:
Together with industry ”Industry must also be involved of course. We must give the universities projects so that we can work together on shared development. Industry also has to ensure finance and management of our shared projects; and we must find markets where we can sell our shared pro ducts and make a profit, so that we have something to continue working on.” “If these three players: the politicians, universities and industry all deliver and collaborate, the triple helix will succeed - and Medicon Valley can be a part of it. If not, then nothing will become of the project. And Medicon Valley will remain a wonderful but worthless concept,” says Asger Aamund.
Expand your network:
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Qualiance www.qualiance.dk Qualiance provides statistical programming services for the Life Science industry. From small Biotechs to large Pharmaceutical companies, Qualiance helps their customers to bring their ideas into user-friendly, well documented and compliant solutions. We bring our experience to meet our customers’ needs in soft ware development to more traditional statistical programming tasks for clinical trial analysis. Qualiance provides expertise in trial programming, project management, standards development and implementation, quality system updates, data warehousing and soft ware development.
Upcoming Life Science Events EVENtS BY MEDICON VALLEY ALLIANCE May 18, 2011 webinar: raising Capital in the US from BioPharma Investors in today’s Market – Opportunities and Strategies for Oﬀshore Investors Learn about current market trends, investors’ preferred investment structures, common misperceptions by oﬀshore firms as to U.S. venture capital and private equity investment, and how to avoid common pitfalls to get your ”house in order” before approaching investors. Speakers are experienced US investors and attorneys. Venue: Your personal computer time: 16.00 hrs More information: www.mva.org/calendar
28 September, 2011 Medicon Valley Outsourcing workshop 2011 The Medicon Valley Outsourcing Workshop is a one day workshop with focus on learning, networking and competition. Participants will use and share own experiences and through discussions learn from each other and improve the knowledge and understanding between sponsors and providers. The workshop will focus on fictive cases related to outsourcing in the pharmaceutical industry and on optimizing the partnership between sponsors and services providers for the benefit of all stakeholders. Venue: Arne Jacobsens Allé 15, Ørestad time: 09.00-18.00 More information: www.mva.org/calendar
May 25, 2011 Medicon Valley Golf Championship 2011 Medicon Valley Alliance presents the Medicon Valley Golf Championship 2011 for CEO’s and Executives in Medicon Valley. This year’s event will take place at PGA of Sweden National Golf Club in Skåne, Sweden. Venue: PGA of Sweden National, 230 40 Bara, Sverige time: 07.30-16.00 More information: www.mva.org/golf
4 October, 2011 Introductory Meeting Do you want to know more about MVA’s initiatives and services? Do you know how to make use of out international network? Do you know of the opportunities we oﬀer for news coverage and sponsorships? This meeting is open for members and non-members who want to know how to benefit from a membership of MVA. Venue: Arne Jacobsens Allé 15, Ørestad time: 15.00-18.00 More information: www.mva.org/calendar
Upcoming Life Science Events MAJOr INtErNAtIONAL EVENtS MAY 2011 May 11 - 12, 2011 ChinaBio Partnering Forum 2011 With 550 participants from 300 companies and 23 countries (60 % from China, 14 % from Europe) this is the largest partnering conference in China. Venue: Beijing, China More information: www.ebdgroup.com May 23 - 24, 2011 Bio Equity Europe 2011 BioEquity is an independent venue for the biotech corporate and investment communities. Venue: Paris, France More information: www.biocentury.com May 23 - 25, 2011 18th Euro-Biotech Forum Biopharma fi nancing, M&A and alliances: what are the trends? Venue: Paris, France More information: www.eurobiotechforum.com
May 23 – 25, 2011 International Symposium on Protein Chemistry Three Nobel Laureates speak of “Proteins, from creation to destruction – and what lies in between”. Venue: Copenhagen, Denmark More information: www.biopeople.dk May 23 – 25, 2011 ILSI BioMed 2011 An eﬃcient way to partnering within pharma, biotechnology and medical devices Venue: Tel Aviv, Israel More information: www.ambtelaviv.um.dk JUNE 2011 June 7 - 9, 2011 world Pharmaceutical Congress This congress encompasses a broad spectrum of topics important and relevant to scientists in academia as well in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry that covers the very latest, both on the scientifi c and the technical side. Venue: Philadelphia, US More information: www.worldpharmacongress.com June 13 - 17, 2011 PharmSciFair 2011 Pharmaceutical Sciences for the Future of Medicines Venue: Prague, Czech Republic More information: www.efb-central.org
Tectra is the interdisciplinary unit for technology transfer established by the Capital Region of Denmark. It serves all the hospitals and psychiatry units in the region and is located in Copenhagen Bio Science Park (COBIS). Tectra represents the connecting link between the inventors, on the one hand, and the collaborative partners, the companies, on the other. Tectra has three main functions: 1. Business-related utilisation of inventions, including patenting and commercialisation as well as establishing companies. 2. Consulting in the areas of research and development agreements. 3. Strategic and support initiatives aimed at improving conditions for commercialisation and collaboration with business and industry. Tectra covers the following main focus areas: · Evaluation of new inventions, including preparation of market analyses. ·
Involvement in the establishment of new start-up companies.
Assisting Hospital Executives with bases for decisions concerning inventions and, research and development agreements.
Negotiating agreements with potential corporate licensees.
Drafting of license agreements, shareholders’ agreements etc. as well as research and development agreements.
Boosting the general knowledge level regarding utilisation of research in the region’s hospitals and building networks with and between the hospitals.
Building networks with the regional biotech industry and other relevant parties, such as innovation incubators, the venture capital sector, the business community etc. with competencies within the natural sciences, business development, patents, legal counselling and startup of biotech companies, as well as a comprehensive international network in the venture capital sector and the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.
Read more about Tectra’s services at www.regionh.dk/tectra Tectra • COBIS • Ole Maaløes Vej 3 • DK-2200 Copenhagen N Contact • Jens Kindtler, CEO • Tel.: +45 38 66 69 29 • e-mail: email@example.com
June 26 - 28, 2011 BIO human ressource Conference Human ressources professionals in the biotechnology industry from around the globe focuses on how to attract, motivate and retain the most qualifi ed employees. Venue: Washington, US More information: www.bio.org June 27 - 30, 2011 BIO 2011 This convention will gather professionals from more than 60 countries, public offi cials and policy makers and approximately 2,100 companies and global biotech leaders for investing in innovations to produce the next generation of, medical, solutions. Venue: Washington, US More information: www.convention.bio.org SEPtEMBEr September 6 - 9, 2011 ADAPt 2011 Accelerating Development & Advancing Personalised Therapy (ADAPT) congress brings together senior executives and key strategic players from across pharma, diagnostic, clinical and informatics to shape the future of personalised medicine. Venue: Philadelphia, US More information: www.healthtech.com September 12 - 15, 2011 Pharma ChemOutsourcing 2011 A pharmaceutical industry-specifi c meeting that attracts small pharmaceutical and biotech company sourcing management plus a large assembly of suppliers from around the world.
Upcoming Life Science Events Venue: New Jersey, US More information: www.chemoutsourcing.com September 14 - 16, 2011 BioPharm America 2011 BioPharm America™ is where more than 2,550 one-to-one meetings between 900 delegates from 570 companies takes place. Venue: Boston, MA, US More information: www.edb.group.com September 14 – 16, 2011 European Cancer Cluster Partnering An oncology-partnering meeting for biotech, pharma, investors, clinicians and academia. Venue: Toulouse, France More information: www.mva.org OCTOBER October 5 - 7, 2011 BioJapan 2011 BioJapan is the longest-running international event in Asia in the field of fundamental and applied biotechnology research. The aim of BioJapan is to provide a platform for the rapidly changing environment surrounding biotechnology and for networking between global key players of the bio industry. Venue: Yokohama, Japan More information: www.osec.ch
October 11 - 13, 2011 BIOTECHNICA 2011 This event for biotechnology and life sciences provides a platform for dialogue on applied biotechnology, laboratory equipment, services and technology transfer. Venue: Hannover, Deutschland More information: www.biotechnica.de October 12 - 13, 2011 BIO China International Conference Executives from biotechnology, pharmaceutical companies and investment firms from North America, Europe and Asia explore business opportunities with China’s biotech sector. Venue: Shanghai, China More information: www.bio.org October 31 - November 2, 2011 17th Annual BIO Europe 2011 Europe’s largest partnering conference, serving the global biotechnology industry. Venue: Duesseldorf, Germany More information: www.ebdgroup.com NOVEMBER November 30 - December 2, 2011 CHPI India 2011 CPhI India and its co-located events are the largest and most comprehensive pharmaceutical industry events in South Asia. Venue: Mumbai, India More information: www.ubmindia.in
Stay connected across the Nordics With 8 hotels across the Nordic region, in city centre locations or close to airport hubs, Hilton Worldwide hotels ensure you are never far from the action in these locations: Copenhagen, Helsinki, Malmö, Oslo*, Reykjavik and Stockholm. Enjoy the benefits of Hilton HHonors® - our unique guest reward programme that lets you earn both Points & Miles® or take advantage of Hilton Meetings® and we will guarantee the success of your meetings from 5 to 500. Locations may change but one thing remains the same – a warm welcome! Find out more Hilton.com/nordic *
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We have received a new shipment of Werkswagen cars from the star dome in Stuttgart. We’ll be the first to admit these are not cars for everyone. But then again, the finer things in life rarely are. In case you’ve been too busy to be familiar with the Werkswagen concept, here’s the executive summary: Werkswagen cars are used company cars, driven by the top level management of the Daimler corporation. These cars leave nothing to be desired in terms of equipment, yet they have only been in use for a very short time.
Vejle tlf. 7211 6000 Hørsholm tlf. 4516 5959 Ishøj tlf. 4012 8918 Aalborg tlf. 7211 5200
A Werkswagen car comes with a complete service history, and it’s been tended to by staff from the factory. Also, these cars are rare models, where the first, large write-off is already accounted for. However, they are also sold by Starmark. So we’ve given them an overhaul of our own as well. Just to make sure they’re as immaculate as you’d expect them to be. See the available cars on www.starmark.dk, or swing by the dealership nearest to you.
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An executive privilege
Published on Aug 16, 2011
Published on Aug 16, 2011
LifeSciences Insight is solely devoted to the life science industry. The magazine addresses numerous relevant issues like: • Economy • Inve...