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Analysis: public research is crucial for creating new solutions to improve health

New analysis from the Novo Nordisk Foundation shows that research at universities and hospitals in Denmark helps to improve treatment for patients and the development of new solutions to improve health.

The Foundation has just published a report in which it analysed and measured the impact of research projects the Foundation has supported.

The report reveals that research at universities, hospitals and other public knowledge institutions is crucial to progress in the healthcare sector. This includes developing new technologies, medicines, diagnoses and guidelines for treating diseases.

The report documents that 24% of 800 clinical guidelines and recommendations for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer in Denmark and abroad cite the results produced by researchers employed in the public sector who receive support from the Foundation. Clinical guidelines and recommendations help to ensure that people receive better and more uniform treatment.

The report further shows that the Foundation’s grant recipients have reported 126 novel medical interventions and products in 2014–2019.

“The report documents that research at public knowledge institutions is crucial for innovation and developing new health solutions. It also shows that researchers in Denmark are skilled at creating results and new knowledge to benefit patients and society,” says Thomas Alslev Christensen, Senior Vice President, Impact, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

“Our analysis covers projects supported by the Foundation but is so broad in scope that we can draw general conclusions about the impact of having a strong public research sector,” adds Thomas Alslev Christensen

Basis for public and private sector innovation
The analysis supplements a previous study by the Foundation on collaboration between private companies and researchers employed by public knowledge institutions. Almost two thirds of the companies surveyed responded that they depend on collaborating with public researchers. One thing this collaboration gives companies is access to new knowledge and modern research facilities they do not have available.

“A strong public research sector is the basis for innovation in both the public and private sectors. Research at universities and hospitals in Denmark is of high international calibre, and our report emphasizes the importance of supporting and developing this,” says Thomas Alslev Christensen.

Selected figures from the report

  • The Foundation funded 9.5% of public research in Denmark in 2019.
  • The Foundation’s grant recipients published 2,800 scientific articles in 2019.
  • Grant recipients established 11 new spinout companies in 2019 based on research funded by the Foundation. In 2014–2019, 67 spinouts were established, including 53 in Denmark.
  • The Foundation fully or partly funded almost 4,100 people employed at universities and hospitals in 2019, over 1,000 more than in 2018. Of these 4,100, 58% were young researchers, including PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and assistant professors.
  • Women comprise 44% of the Foundation’s grant recipients. The Foundation has a policy that aims to promote greater diversity.
  • The Steno Diabetes Centers in Denmark treated 27,000 patients in 2019.
  • The Foundation’s grant recipients organized or taught research-based educational activities involving 22,000 participants.  
  • 300,000 people participated in scientific outreach activities such as lectures or workshops supported by the Foundation.
  • The Foundation’s support for humanitarian initiatives benefited 800,000 people during 2014–2019.

Read more from the report:

Novo Nordisk Foundation increases its focus on young talented researchers

Novo Nordisk Foundation increases its focus on young talented researchers


Novo Nordisk Foundation increases support for humanitarian initiatives

Novo Nordisk Foundation increases support for humanitarian initiatives

Read the full report here.

Futher information

Christian Mostrup, Senior Programme Lead, +45 30674805, [email protected]