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What is the Foundation?

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests. The objective of the Novo Nordisk Foundation is twofold: To provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities conducted by the companies within the Novo Group and to support scientific and humanitarian purposes.

Ownership and subsidiaries


Novo Nordisk Foundation

In organizational terms, the Novo Nordisk Foundation awards grants and Novo Holdings A/S, the Foundation’s wholly owned subsidiary, manages the Foundation’s commercial activities. The objective of Novo Holdings A/S is to manage the Foundation’s endowment and its controlling interests in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, thereby ensuring that the Foundation obtains a satisfactory financial return.


Novo Holdings A/S
Novo Holdings A/S is the holding company for companies in the Novo Group. In addition to its ownership stake in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, Novo Holdings A/S manages the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s endowment by:

investing in life-science companies at various stages of their development:

  • at the seed phase – the green-shoots stage with modest capital requirements;
  • in the venture phase – in which an established company needs to develop its business concept further; and

other investments:

  • in well-managed, well-established and profitable biomedical and bioindustrial companies, such as Chr. Hansen;
  • financial investments, primarily in equities and bonds.


Ownership and majority holding in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S

In accordance with the Foundation’s Articles of Association, Novo Holdings A/S is obligated to maintain a controlling interest in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, the Novo Group’s two large publicly listed companies.

At the end of 2017, Novo Holdings A/S owned A (multiple voting rights) and B (ordinary) shares in Novo Nordisk A/S equivalent to 28.4% of the share capital and 75.9% of the votes and A and B shares in Novozymes A/S equivalent to 25.5% of the share capital and 71.7% of the votes. The A (multiple voting rights) shares in the two companies are unlisted and are not traded. In both Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, the A shares have voting rights that are 10 times greater than those of the B (ordinary) shares

This special share structure with A shares with multiple voting rights defends the companies in practice against any hostile takeover and ensures that the companies can plan their activities on a long-term basis and remain in Danish ownership.

This places a special responsibility on Novo Holdings A/S to manage its controlling interest in the best interests of Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S and with due respect for the interests of the minority shareholders.


Grants for research

The Novo Nordisk Foundation primarily awards grants for research within biomedicine, biotechnology, general practice and family medicine, nursing and art history at public research institutions.

Read more under Grants.


Investment in life-science companies

Read more about the investments i life-science companies on Novo Holdings A/S' homepage.