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Folkemødet 2023: the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Danish Chamber of Commerce and Confederation of Danish Industry highlight biosolutions

The Novo Nordisk Foundation will collaborate with the Danish Chamber of Commerce and the Confederation of Danish Industry to focus on biosolutions at Folkemødet 2023 (the People’s Meeting), the democracy festival of Denmark). The three organisations and several partners have assembled a full programme of events that will investigate the enormous potential of products and solutions created with nature in mind, based on enzymes, proteins, bacteria and plant fibre. These events will be held at two dedicated platforms, BIOscenen and BIOloungen.

They are part of your morning yogurt, laundry detergent and maybe running shoes. And in the future, they may form the basis for producing clothes and the bricks for houses. Biosolutions are biology’s wonderful green alternatives to conventional yet climate-unfriendly everyday products and solutions.

Denmark leads – but for how much longer?
With industry powerhouses such as Novozymes and Chr. Hansen, Denmark has led the biosolutions field for many years. Unfortunately, many new biotechnological inventions have difficulty in gaining commercial traction because of challenges associated with legislation and regulation in the European Union and elsewhere. Denmark may thus end up lagging behind countries such as the United States, Brazil and China – and this will cost jobs.

In a panel debate on the BIOscenen, Novo Nordisk Foundation’s CEO, Professor Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, will discuss the challenges with Jacob Jensen, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of Denmark; Lars Sandahl Sørensen, CEO of the Danish Confederation of Industry; Brian Mikkelsen, CEO of the Danish Chamber of Commerce; and Nanna Højlund, Vice President of the Danish Trade Union Confederation.

On a different tack, although still focusing on biology, a panel on the BIOscenen will discuss whether working with nature’s genes will preserve or destroy nature. A debate on “We can tailor genes – is it unethical to not do this?” will feature Christian Gamborg, Associate Professor in Natural Resource Ethics at the University of Copenhagen and member of the Danish Council of Ethics; June Rebekka Bresson, spokesperson for NOAH; Marie-Louise Boisen Lendal, co-founder and Director, Frej Think Tank; and Mickey Gjerris, Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, bioethicist, author and former member of the Danish Council of Ethics. Claus Felby, Senior Vice President, Biotech will participate for the Foundation.

Claus Felby will also be present when the BIOscenen is transformed into the BIObar on Friday evening – the most nerdy Friday bar at the Folkemødet, where he will be mixing exciting bio-drinks in the company of the deans of the faculties of natural and technical sciences from Denmark’s universities.

Welcome to the green Dragons Den
On the BIOscenen, we will also investigate whether biotechnological textiles could seriously challenge modern conventional clothing production. Another debate will discuss how consumers can get incentives to sink our teeth into meat-free burgers or other more environmentally friendly foods we need to get used to eating.

Another perspective is funding, because without this, even the most innovative and enterprising biosolutions entrepreneurs cannot continue. The Foundation’s investment company, Novo Holdings, will highlight the financial perspective, represented by Anders Bendsen Spohr, Senior Partner, Head of Bioindustrial Investments. Anders will participate in several events placing biosolutions in a financial context, including an event inspired by the Dragons Den investment pitching in which Anders and Tommy Ahlers, entrepreneur and former Minister of Science, Technology, Information and Higher Education and Linea Søgaard-Lidell, climate spokesperson for the Liberal Party of Denmark, will assess specific investment cases within biosolutions.

Biosolutions you can touch and feel
For the curious, the Folkemødet 2023 will provide ample opportunities to see, touch and perhaps also taste some biosolutions products. Throughout Folkemødet, both the tent at the BIOscenen and the BIOloungen will have biosolutions exhibitions in which companies from Denmark and abroad will exhibit their products to show that biosolutions are real. In addition, the BIOloungen will be the setting for a series of science talks in which a handful of Denmark’s leading researchers will briefly summarise their research field, with the topics including enzymes, plant protein and nature’s green pharmacy.

View the full programme for BIOscenen and BIOloungen here.

Are we ready for the next big challenges?
In addition to the biosolutions theme in collaboration with the Danish Confederation of Industry and the Danish Chamber of Commerce, the Foundation is hosting four debates at Grønbechs Hotel during the Folkemødet 2023 that focus on current and future challenges and the potential for society.

In the first debate, the Foundation will elucidate Denmark’s ability to attract the international research talent of the highest calibre. The second debate will focus on antimicrobial resistance and how this affects patients in Denmark’s healthcare system. The third debate will delve into several ethical considerations related to global and local inequality in access to healthcare professionals. The fourth debate concerns the potential of quantum technologies for developing business and industry in Denmark. The Foundation will also discuss the necessary solutions in dialogue with politicians, experts and other key actors.

Read more about the panellists and the details and venues of the Foundation’s Folkemødet debates here.

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]