INTERVIEW. The Novo Nordisk Foundation will broaden its scope and increase its grants for scientific, humanitarian and social purposes. Existing grant areas within the health sciences will be augmented with other natural science fields, and expanding support for research and development within the life sciences and biotechnology will be a key element in implementing the Foundation’s new grant-awarding strategy. A greater focus on education will also help to encourage children and young people to take an interest in science.
"Our focus is on improving people’s lives by improving health and education and developing a knowledge-based, sustainable society," says Sten Scheibye, Chairman of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.
The Foundation’s new strategy, which the Board of Directors adopted in May 2018, establishes the framework for the Foundation’s work and grants for the 5 years from 2019 to 2023.
"We will continue to support the areas in which we are already active, and we will allocate even more money for this. In addition, we will support research areas such as the natural sciences, the life sciences and biotechnology. We will also further increase our support for education and innovation," says Sten Scheibye, adding:
"In collaboration with a broad group of actors in society, we have a significant opportunity to contribute to society in the years ahead."
More major breakthroughs
The ambition is that the Foundation will increase annual grant payouts fourfold by 2023. This means that the total payout of DKK 1.3 billion in 2017 could rise to about DKK 5 billion in 2023. The improved performance of the Foundation’s subsidiaries, Novo Nordisk and Novozymes, and successful investments by Novo Holdings, the Foundation’s holding and investment company, have enabled this.
In the coming years, the Foundation will focus its support within six areas. The Foundation supports three of these already: the health sciences, treatment of patients and humanitarian and social causes. Two of the three other areas are within the natural sciences and sustainability. Finally, education and innovation has become a new independent focus area.
"In the coming years, we plan to cast our support more widely than previously. We will continue to support research, treatment and development that can improve people’s lives. In addition, we will now also focus more on areas that can contribute to creating greater sustainability in society," says Lars Rebien Sørensen, the Foundation’s Vice Chairman, adding:
"Many major breakthroughs are achieved at the interface between scientific disciplines such as biomedicine, the natural sciences and biotechnology. We will therefore support greater interdisciplinarity within research and development."
Inspiring children and young people
The Foundation’s support for education has now risen to an even higher level focusing on the entire educational pathway and the general interest of children and young people in the natural sciences.
"Our ambition is to make science a source of interest and wonder. We will inspire children and young people broadly, including those who may not realize that learning more science can be interesting. We hope that the initiatives can inspire more students to enrol in degree programmes that will provide them with competencies in the natural sciences," says Lars Rebien Sørensen.
Dialogue with society
The Foundation will continue to focus primarily on Denmark and then the other Nordic countries for its grant giving, which is also intended to support international collaboration.
The Foundation knows that its ambition to increase grant payouts for scientific, humanitarian and social purposes imposes responsibility to maintain a constructive dialogue with society.
"We must interact closely with all the relevant actors in society. We must always remember that dialogue with society is key for our legitimacy, and we must be transparent about what we do," says Lars Rebien Sørensen.