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 invest its assests to ensuring that the Foundation obtains a satisfactory financial return.

How do we carry out our ownership of Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S?

So how does it work?

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
    • 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, the Foundation 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 about 28% of the share capital and about 75% of the votes and A and B shares in Novozymes A/S equivalent to about 25% of the share capital and about 71% 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.

Read more about investing in Life Science companies on Novo Holdings A/S’ website.

Read more about our Engaged ownership here: Engaged ownership


The Novo Nordisk Foundation aims to ensure that the companies in the Novo Group (Novo A/S, Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S) position themselves as internationally recognized and leading actors in improving how disease is combated and how natural resources are used.

Charter for companies in the Novo Group

Present as well as future companies in the Novo Group must demonstrate willingness, ability and resolve to meet the following criteria:

  • Company products and services make a significant difference in improving the way people live and work.
  • The company is perceived to be an innovator – in technology, in products, in services and/or in market approach.
  • The company is among the best in its business and a challenging place to work.
  • The company delivers competitive financial performance.

Companies in the Novo Group commit to:

  • Value-based management
  • Open and honest dialogue with its stakeholders
  • Continuous improvement of
    • financial performance
    • environmental performance
    • social performance
  • Reporting in accordance with relevant, internationally approved, conventions.