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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.

From research to innovation

One strategic objective of the Novo Nordisk Foundation is to build bridges between the discoveries made by researchers in biomedicine and biotechnology and their commercial application.

These are the five stages of the innovation value chain – from green-shoots research discovery to mature company.

Different stages of the innovation process require different types of support because the technical and commercial activities change and develop throughout the process. The Foundation therefore supports a range of initiatives – either directly or through its subsidiary Novo A/S – and thus covers the entire innovation value chain from research discovery to commercializing new diagnostic methods, therapies, assistive devices and technologies.


The five stages




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


Exploratory pre-seed:

The earliest stage involves testing whether the discovery will work in practice and can be commercialized. Funding is required to both test and develop a good idea and to investigate the potential for patenting and marketing. Researchers based at a university or hospital in a Nordic country may apply to the Foundation’s Committee on Exploratory Pre-seed Grants for funding for this purpose. In total, DKK 12 million (€1.6 million) is being allocated annually for the awarding of exploratory pre-seed grants.




Researchers may apply for a pre-seed grant from the Foundation once the scientific and commercial potential of a fund or an idea has been further investigated. For both pre-seed programmes, the Foundation, in partnership with Novo A/S, supports the innovation process on the same terms as it supports research – by awarding grants to the applicant. From 2014 to 2015, the funds for preseed grants has been raised from DKK 20 million (€2.68 million) to DKK 25 million (€3.35 million).




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




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



A strong innovation culture

However, neither excellence in research nor the appropriate funding of ideas inherently leads to innovation. Ultimately, this also requires the right people who can drive research in a direction that enables the innovative potential to unfold as well as talented entrepreneurs who can operate a small biotechnology company.

This is why the Foundation is working to create a strong innovation culture in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. The Foundation’s initiatives are intended to catalyse the establishment of dynamic, pulsating and creative research environments that focus on innovation.