Events accelerate in the 1980s

Novo Nordisk Foundation Lecture held for the first time

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Lecture (originally the Jacob E. Poulsen Grant) is held for the first time. The Nordisk Insulin Foundation establishes the Lecture to reward an active scientist from a Nordic country for an outstanding contribution within diabetes research or treatment. Chief physician, Jørn Ditzel, is the first recipient and is invited to hold his lecture to coincide with the annual conference of the Scandinavian Society for the Study of Diabetes in Helsinki.

Novo Foundation establishes the Committee on Humanities Research

The Novo Foundation establishes a Committee on Humanities research to award grants to the humanities, mostly archaeology and art history.

Novo Foundation establishes the Committee on Natural Sciences Research

The Novo Foundation also establishes a Committee to award grants in the natural sciences. However, the Committee is only active as an independent entity for a few years before merging with the Foundation’s Committee on Medical Research to form the Committee on Medical and Natural Sciences Research.


Mads Øvlisen joins the Board of the Novo Foundation

Mads Øvlisen (pictured on right), son-in-law of Knud Hallas-Møller (pictured on left), joins the Board of the Novo Foundation. A year earlier, he took over as CEO of Novo Industri A/S. For the next almost 20 years, Mads Øvlisen will be the key figure in developing the Novo Foundation as a modern foundation with corporate interests, in the merger in 1989 resulting in the formation of the Novo Nordisk Foundation and in expanding the Foundation’s grants – especially in the humanitarian area. He remained the CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation until 1992.


Nordisk Gentofte listed on stock exchange

Nordisk Gentofte becomes a limited liability company and lists on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.


First scholarships awarded

The Foundation’s history of giving scholarships begins in 1985 with the awarding of the first Hallas-Møller Scholarship. Knud Hallas-Møller (pictured) is Harald Pedersen’s son-in-law and plays a major role in the Foundation’s history; he is a member of the Novo Foundation Board (1951–1983) and a director (1961–1981) of both Novo Terapeutisk Laboratorium A/S and Novo Industri A/S. The Scholarship pays the recipient’s salary for 5 years plus the operating expenses of a research project. Today, the Novo Nordisk Foundation awards two annual Hallas-Møller Scholarships of DKK 11 million each and many other scholarships have also been established.


Novo Nordisk Prize awarded for the 25th time

Hans H. Ussing, dr.phil. receives the Novo Nordisk Prize (then known as the Novo Prize) in recognition of his “scientific contribution during the past 30 years and his studies of the problems associated with solute-coupled water transport across cellular membranes and epithelia.” Ussing has recently retired as Chair of the Novo Foundation and at 75 years of age is the oldest recipient of the Prize. The Prize is awarded annually to recognise unique medical research or other research contributions that benefit medical science.

Scientific symposia on the menu

The Nordisk Insulin Foundation arranges the first in a series of scientific symposia under the title of the Nordic Insulin Symposia. The Symposia are by invitation only, although young researchers in the Nordic countries can attend at their own expense. The Symposia end in 1993 and are replaced in 1995 by the more informal Novo Nordisk Foundation Research Meetings. The Foundation provides grants to hold symposia in the Nordic countries or to invite leading international researchers to visit a research group combined with public lectures.


Novo Foundation starts awarding grants for nurses

The Novo Foundation provides DKK 200,000 annually over 5 years for nurses who need grants to pursue further clinical and professional education, including outside Denmark. The Danish Nurses’ Organization administers this money. When the agreement ends, the Novo Nordisk Foundation decides to contribute to developing clinical nursing research, which results in the creation of the Committee on Nursing Research in 1996.


Merger: Novo Nordisk Foundation created

Following several years of preparations, the Novo Nordisk Foundation is created on 12 January with the merger of Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium, the Nordisk Insulin Foundation and the Novo Foundation. The two operating companies Nordisk Gentofte A/S and Novo Industri A/S also merge to become Novo Nordisk A/S. The merger is one of the largest in Denmark. At the time of the merger, Nordisk has 11 foreign subsidiaries, 14 branches and 1,450 employees, while Novo has subsidiaries and representative offices in 27 countries and 5,900 employees. The merger takes place despite many years of intense competition between the two competitors and tense relations, including during their court case over patent rights from 1938 to 1941.

Ultimately, economic logic brings the parties together, with an important factor being the prospect of the creation of the single market in the new European Union from 1993 and the liberalisation of global economy and trade. A press release at the time states that the merger “… will result in a company whose size will make it better prepared to survive in the extremely competitive global market …”. The picture shows the two former CEOs Henry Brennum (left) of Nordisk Gentofte A/S and Mads Øvlisen (right) of Novo Industri A/S, who become joint CEOs of Novo Nordisk A/S.

Foundation with several purposes

The Articles of Association of the Novo Nordisk Foundation amalgamate the articles of the merging foundations. The Novo Nordisk Foundation is a foundation with corporate interests with the following purposes:

– to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities of Novo Nordisk A/S;

– to support physiological, endocrinological, metabolic and other medical research;

– to contribute to the preservation and operation of the research hospital activities of Novo Nordisk A/S; and furthermore

– to support other scientific, humanitarian and social causes.

Clauses 1 and 4 come from the Novo Foundation, clause 3 from Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium and clause 2 from the Nordisk Insulin Foundation with “other medical research” added


Novo Nordisk A/S takes over the hospital and laboratory

Niels Steensens Hospital and the Hagedorn Research Laboratory, which has previously been owned by Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium, are transferred to the new company, Novo Nordisk A/S. Hvidøre Hospital had been owned by Novo Industri A/S from the beginning.


Two new Foundation committees

Following the merger, the grant-awarding functions of the Nordisk Insulin Foundation and the Novo Foundation are initially maintained by converting their former boards into committees. The Board of the Nordisk Insulin Foundation becomes the Nordisk Insulin Foundation’s Committee. In 1993, the Committee changes its name to the Nordic Research Committee. The committees support basic and clinical research within endocrinology and experimental physiology in the Nordic countries. The committee, which still exists, has been renamed the Committee on Endocrinology and Metabolism since 2017. The picture shows the Nordisk Insulin Foundation’s committee chair, Niels A Thorn.

The Board of the Novo Foundation becomes the Committee of the Novo Foundation, but with the creation over the years of various committees responsible for awarding grants in various fields, the Committee has little to do and is abolished after only four years. Instead, the Articles of Association are amended to give the Novo Foundation’s Committee on Medical and Natural Sciences Research the same status as the Nordic Research Committee.

The grant-awarding activities of the Novo Nordisk Foundation from 1993 and over the following decades are now carried out by the two large committees and the three other committees established over the years by the Novo Foundation: the Committee on Veterinary Research, the Committee on Humanities Research and the Novo Nordisk Prize Committee.


Vagn Andersen elected Chair of the Novo Nordisk Foundation

The new Board of the Novo Nordisk Foundation comprises 10 ex officio members – five from each of the two merging parties – and five representatives of the employees. Vagn Andersen, the CEO of B&O, becomes the first Chair of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.