Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.”
So starts the second book of the gospel of Matthew. We all know the story: Mary, Joseph, Little Jesus, the shepherds and the three kings from the east bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh. For many of us, Matthew’s version (intertwined with Luke’s more shepherd-focused version) is as integrated into Christmas as the anxious waiting for Santa and the gifts that he may bring.
The political twists and turns of 2016 have been hard to predict, whether it’s been Brexit, the US elections and the latest Danish government. Predicting 2017 may prove just as hard. Like any anxiously waiting child, we are left to hope our wishes will come true. I only have a few.
The nativity tale also features a donkey as a means of transportation. This leads me to my first wish. The Medicon Valley life science cluster in Great Copenhagen spans Zealand and southern Sweden. To grow and prosper, the cluster is dependent on the free movement of knowledge, ideas and labour.
The current restrictions on those commuting between Denmark and Sweden are limiting growth every day. I wish that we can return to normal conditions soon – for the prosperity of the regions and the sake of the thousands of people in life science and other industries and sectors crossing the border every day.
The three kings prompt my second wish. But while they brought plenty of gold (Venstre), frankincense (Liberal Alliance) and myrrh (Konservative) to Danish business, there wasn’t a single reference to the life science industry in their new budget.
The omission is a bit strange as this industry could indeed be the guiding star for growth and job creation in Denmark for years to come. It contributes significantly to our exports, is the most productive industry in turnover per hours, creates massive tax income to society and – most importantly – helps people to live better and longer lives.
So if Santa was to bring me one single gift, he should gather the shepherds of the government’s Life Science Growth Team headed by Lundbeck CEO Kaare Schultz and have them deliver an ambitious, fact-based forward-looking set of recommendations regarding how to strengthen the Danish life science industry. Then it will be up the new government to implement them.
If these wishes come true, there will be truly gold, frankincense and myrrh this Christmas.