DenmarkDenmark

History Meets Modern Research

05.02.2004

Biotechnology in Denmark has a strong history, even when it was not called so in the old days. In 1923 Prof. August Krogh, winner of the Nobel Prize, obtained the license to produce insulin in the nordic countries. He founded the Nordic Insulinlaboratorium, which in 1925 was split into Nordisk and Novo. Since then, after a lot of mergers and restructuring, the Danish biotech industry has grown and brought forth promising new companies. In 1989 a remerger yielded Novo Nordisk, a leader in the field of diabetes. Novozymes, a Novo Nordisk spin-out, has more than 40% world market share in industrial enzymes. In 1987, companies teamed up in the Danish Association of Biotechnology Industries to share knowledge and establish a dialogue with authorities, politicians and the public, explained chairman Søren Carlsen to EuroBiotechNews.

Euro|BioTech|News
Mr. Carlsen, what are the strengths of Danish biotechnology?
Carlsen:
Medicine and technical applications in biotechnology are pretty strong in Danish universities. Specific strengths in the clinical field are diabetes, immunology and the central nervous system (CNS). In terms of technologies we have a long history in protein chemistry and protein science in Denmark, partly on account of Novo Nordisk and the Carlsberg Research Laboratories. We are also strong in medical chemistry, due to companies working on CNS issues like Lundbeck, NeuroSearch or 7TM. We also have very strong university groups. There is a good relationship between industry and university hospitals, and we have good experiences in conducting clinical trials for many years. But to be fair, we should also point out some weaker points. Danish biotechs are relatively young and small, the management teams are relatively inexperienced. But here I see a lot of things happening and improving rapidly. We are still behind the UK and the USA. Though the same is true for all of Europe. There is a very active region called Medicon Valley shared between Denmark and Sweden. It has been one of the most rapidly growing European clusters over the past 10 years. Some companies originated from big companies, like Novo Nordisk spun-out BioImage. Others like 7TM Pharma in Copenhagen were set up by university groups and by people from NeuroSearch.
Euro|BioTech|News
Is there a strong collaboration between academia and industry?
Carlsen:
This has improved a lot in the past 10-15 years. 10 years ago it was not good enough, compared with that in the United States. One reason for the improvement in Denmark is that we have made the universities more aware of the opportunities available. Previously, when an invention was made at a university, the inventor owned the patent. Today, it is the university, though the inventor and his department will have some benefits. The industry can talk with the licensing office to get access to the technologies. Yet we still need to build strong outlicensing offices at the universitites.
Euro|BioTech|News
Where do you see Denmark in the Euro-pean and worldwide comparison?
Carlsen:
Compared with the US, we were relatively late in Denmark. Before 1990 there were not that many private biotech companies. But throughout the 90s, a lot of them popped up. You can always discuss, what is the definition of a biotech company. We have some 100 companies in Denmark. Some are directly involved in biotech, some are small consultancy companies. In our association we only have companies with a relatively mature size. It is important for us that they are actively engaged in research. We don't want companies that are purely service-oriented, namely by inlicen-sing or manufacturing generic products.
Euro|BioTech|News
How many products are there are in an advanced stage, i.e. close to the market?
Carlsen:
There are at least 10 companies with products in clinical trials. Big pharma companies like Novo Nordisk, Lundbeck but also smaller companies like NeuroSearch, Genmab, Pharmexa have products in phases I, II and III. A lot of companies are young, but quite a few finish clinical trials.
Euro|BioTech|News
What is the current funding situation for start-ups and established companies?
Carlsen:
It is hard but not as hard as e.g. in Germany. There are a lot of companies that got support from the Government, but would probably not have been started without that support. We had a tougher upfront selection. Right now people are not as willing to invest in early stage companies as they were two years ago. There is some support in early stages with seed funding. However, when you reach a certain stage with, say, 20-30 people and you are going for investment rounds II or III and you have no compound yet in clinical trials the problem is to find investors to support you until the clinical phase. We have a couple of internationally-oriented investors like Novo
A/S and Bankinvest. Locally oriented ones like Scandinavian Life Science Venture mostly invest in Denmark and Sweden. The Danish Growth Fund is a government based fund, though they use their money more like VC and expect to get something back. We have successfully attracted top tier VC companies to invest in Danish biotechs as in Symphogen, 7TM Pharma, BioImage and in the public companies Pharmaexa, NeuroSearch, Bavarian Nordic and Genmab. I am the managing partner of the internationally oriented VC company Novo A/S, the holding company to Novo Nordisk. We own major shares in them and in Novozymes and invest the dividend in promising life science companies.
Euro|BioTech|News
What are the association's main tasks?
Carlsen:
When the first products based on recombinant technology - Insulin and the Human Growth Hormone - were to be produced in the 80s, the politicians wanted a new legislation for biotech and gene technology. We wanted to join forces in the industry to establish a good dialogue with the authorities. We started the association in 1987 but did not just want to blindly support the industry. Of course lobbying was involved, but it was also important to us that we had high standards and would also be critical about possible misuse of technologies. The first members were big traditional companies like Novo and Nordisk, Carlsberg or the Danish Sugar Factories, Danish Distillers and Danisco. During the 90s, we opened up to the smaller, new biotech companies. Today we have 37 members, around 10 big companies and 27 smaller ones. We have three goals. Firstly, we want to support the dialogue between authorities and the Danish biotech industry. Secondly, we feel responsible to share knowledge with the public, authorities and politicians about possibilities and all issues related to biotechnology. Knowledge would improve the debates. We are a low-budget organization without a big beurocracy. I think we achieved good results because the authorities respect us. When new legislation in biotechnology is proposed, we are asked about our opinion. We were involved in the debate and the public hearing of the new stem cell law. We are also invited to supervise the new Tech Transfer Offices in Denmark. Thirdly, we are part of the EU and associated with EuropaBIO. Thus we also address common issues in the EU.

DenmarkDenmark

16.09.2006

Glostrup – Zealand Pharma A/S, a biopharmaceutical company developing peptide based drugs, has raised DKK216 million (a29 million) in a rights issue through the sale of about 5.7 million shares. According to the company, the deal...

DenmarkDenmark

21.07.2006

Copenhagen – Danish Curalogic raised Euro25 million through the sale of 2.5 million shares at the Copenhagen Stock Exchange on June 2. Meanwhile, Swedish biotech Respiratorios postponed the announced IPO to a later ungiven date.

DenmarkDenmark

21.07.2006

Copenhagen – Osteologix A/S has completed a reverse merger and share exchange transaction with publicy-held Castle & Morgan Holdings, Inc., based in New York, US. In parallel with the merger, the Copenhagen-based...

DenmarkDenmark

21.07.2006

Copenhagen – Curalogic A/S, a biotech company developing oral immunotherapeutic allergy treatments, has entered the Copenhagen Stock Exchange at the end of May, raising about Euro25 million. Likely to be added to this are DKK14...

DenmarkDenmark

21.07.2006

Hørsholm/Strasbourg – 7TM Pharma A/S, a spin-off from the University of Copenhagen, has acquired CareX SA, a privately held French company based in Strasbourg, France, for an unknown sum.CareX’ lead program utilizes a novel...

DenmarkDenmark

21.07.2006

Baggsvaerd – The world-leader in enzymes Novozymes A/S in Denmark has acquired the UK-based Delta Biotechnology Ltd. from the Sanofi-Aventis group for an unknown sum. The British company has 106 employees and is involved in...

DenmarkDenmark

12.05.2006

Copenhagen - The Danish government is proposing to allocate an extra Euro1 billion to research from 2007 to 2010. In addition, Euro200 million have been earmarked to be invested in innovation. The plan will allow Denmark reach...

DenmarkDenmark

12.05.2006

Vaterløse/Hørsholm - Three Danish biopharmaceutical companies have attracted several million euros of investment which will allow them to further the clinical development of their drug candidates. Hørsholm-based biopharmaceutical...

DenmarkDenmark

12.05.2006

Marseille/Copenhagen - The French biopharmeutical company Innate Pharma SA and the Danish diabetes care world leader Novo Nordisk have entered into a strategic partnership to develop new drugs targeting natural killer (NK) cells,...

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