The Valley of Life: Laurels in the longer term

It can take 15 years from breakthrough to launch (Photo: iStock) It can take 15 years from breakthrough to launch (Photo: iStock)
January 24th, 2016 6:55 pm| by Søren Bregenholt
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Life science research and development is a high-risk endurance race. Developing new drugs takes a long time and is very costly. It may take up to 15 years from the first ideas until new molecules are identified, developed, manufactured and finally available as new medicines to help patients with serious diseases.

Not for the faint-hearted
Often times this process is preceded by decades of basic research. Investments in life science are not only long-term and sizeable, they are inherently risky, as only a few ideas will make it all the way to the patients.

On top of this, you are likely to race against equally motivated and skilled competitors. As in other industries, in order to win the race and get the laurels, you either have to be first on the market or develop the better product. Achieving both is a scoop.


Life science is not an industry for the shortsighted and fainted-hearted, but when you succeed, the returns can be significant for the patients, society and for the company that took the risk.

A success story
In Denmark and Greater Copenhagen, we are uniquely positioned with strong academic institutions, a highly-skilled workforce and world-class industry.

In the past, races have been won and laurels received. The industry has been able to leverage, and we have developed both better treatments for patients and generated substantial growth and a number of high-income jobs in the region.

No resting on laurels
Winning once is hard, but continuing to win is very difficult. You need to stay hungry, focused and think long-term – not rest on your laurels.

To be in the life science race you have to be willing to continue investing in what fosters the success: high-quality education, world-class academic research and new project ideas to bring future patients benefits, and growth and prosperity to the region.

The industry is as ready as ever for this endurance race. There is nothing we would rather do than invest in future medicines. And we hope that our politicians will race with us in order to bring home the next laurels.

 

 

Søren Bregenholt


Søren BregenholdtCorporate Vice President, R&D External Innovation and Stakeholder Relations at Novo NordiskCopenhagen Area, Capital Region, DenmarkBiotechnology

As the chairman of the Medicon Valley Alliance – the gold-labelled Danish-Swedish life science cluster organisation – Søren will address current trends and challenges in the sector.  Away from the alliance, he is responsible for Novo Nordisk’s global R&D-based PhD and post doc programs, as well as research, innovation and educational policy.