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Continued support of the BioMedical Design Novo Nordisk Foundation Fellowship programme will drive development of the entrepreneurs and healthcare solutions of the future

The BioMedical Design Novo Nordisk Foundation Fellowship programme engages experienced international talents from different disciplines, equipping them with the necessary skills to tackle unmet clinical needs and develop ground-breaking practical solutions in the field of healthcare. With a grant of DKK 81.48 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Programme is now set to continue for a further 5 years with a strengthened clinical focus on cardiometabolic diseases.

The BioMedical Design Programme takes Fellows on a transformative 10-month innovation journey. Combining clinical immersion with lecturing sessions, teamwork and hands-on experience of health innovation and commercialisation, it supports the translation of ideas into practical solutions. Funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and anchored at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at Aarhus University and the University of Copenhagen, the Programme successfully completed its first grant period this year.

A needs-driven approach to innovation
The aim of the BioMedical Design Novo Nordisk Foundation Fellowship programme is to impact the future of healthcare through needs-driven innovation and product development, by providing training and motivating participants to create innovative solutions to relevant, high impact, unmet needs. This needs-driven approach – as opposed to a technology-driven approach – ensures workable solutions, with fellows provided with access to a clinical department to witness unmet needs in real life at Danish hospitals.

“The success of our Fellows and the impact of their innovation projects has demonstrated the power of this Programme’s approach,” says Sys Zoffmann Glud, CEO of the BioMedical Design Fellowship. “With the help of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, we are excited to be able to start our second grant period for the Programme. We want to release the full potential of Danish health innovation and drive a positive change for the benefit of patients and healthcare professionals.”

Applications are encouraged from a diverse range of talented and experienced professionals from around the world, including those from healthcare, product design, engineering, business and research.  Fellows are organized in multidisciplinary teams for the duration of the fellowship, to drive collaborative abilities and leverage the creativity that arises from working with other specialties.

Improving clinical processes and healthcare
While focusing on developing the participant’s lasting skills, the goal is also for the Programme to be a launchpad for new innovation projects with commercial potential. The Programme has surpassed many of its key performance indicators – including development of new clinical innovation projects, generation of patents, and companies that have succeeded with attracting significant external funding.

The Programme is part of the Novo Nordisk Foundation 2030 strategy, to create a world class innovation environment in Denmark. It aims to empower a new generation of innovators to revolutionize healthcare, improving patient outcomes and driving transformational change within the healthcare system. The Programme is creating a significantly increased pool of entrepreneurial talents and a solid pipeline of high-potential innovation projects and start-ups for the Danish life science industry.

Going forward, the Programme will build on the experiences from the previous grant period. Its strategic focus will be strengthened on the Danish hospitals’ innovation agenda with an emphasis on cardiometabolic diseases including cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, new partnerships with international hospitals will be developed to support fellows with assessing needs and testing solutions in international clinical settings.

“The success of the first grant period has been great and the Novo Nordisk Foundation is pleased to continue the support for the Programme. Especially, I appreciate the Programme’s new strategic focus on cardiometabolic diseases, which is an area of high unmet clinical need with global impact,” concludes Mikkel Skovborg, Senior Vice President for Innovation at the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

About the Programme
The BioMedical Design Fellowship Programme, initially inspired by the BioDesign programme at Stanford University, was established in Denmark in October 2018 with a grant of DKK 81.6 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The 10-month full time fellowship contains both theory and practical fieldwork. A total of 71 fellows have completed the Programme to date.

As of January 2023, the Programme fellows have developed 44 projects for improvement of clinical processes, and 13 innovation projects with commercial potential within medical devices, medical diagnostics and monitoring, telehealth, and AI-based clinical decision systems. These projects have generated 2 filed patents and 14 start-ups that have attracted funding of approximately DKK 26.1 million in total.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has now extended the Programme for a further 5 years, with a grant of up to DKK 81.48 million.

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation
Established in Denmark in 1924, the Novo Nordisk Foundation is an enterprise foundation with philanthropic objectives. The vision of the Foundation is to improve people’s health and the sustainability of society and the planet. The Foundation’s mission is to progress research and innovation in the prevention and treatment of cardiometabolic and infectious diseases as well as to advance knowledge and solutions to support a green transformation of society.

Further information
Marie-Louise Jersin, Senior Communications Partner, +45 3049 4957, [email protected]