The Valley of Life: Medicon Valley and The Three Musketeers

The line “All for one and one for all” was made famous in Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 novel ‘The Three Musketeers’. Coincidently, its Latin origin “Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno” is also the unofficial motto of Switzerland, which just happens to be the country with the most successful life science clusters in Europe.

Musketeer morale
As fans of the novel will know, the phrase serves to boosts morale and team spirit, encouraging everyone to do their very best – not only for their own sake but to strengthen the entire group.

This is what the Swiss confederacy has succeeded in doing politically, but it is also the approach they have successfully executed in addressing national life science development.

And I think is it an appropriate guiding principle for the way we approach life science regionally and nationally in the Danish-Swedish Medicon Valley region – and also in the Nordics.

Narrow scope
The national life science strategies currently being developed and executed in Denmark and Sweden should aim for similar tangible outcomes. Whereas the Swedish strategy is still a work in progress, and as such cannot be finally assessed, the Danish equivalent was announced last year and is now in its implementation phase.

Unfortunately it is predominantly based on input from the larger life science companies, and it does not address the needs of the many innovative micro, small and medium-sized companies. Its narrow national point of departure fails to embrace the regional perspective.

After all, the largest and most innovative cluster in the Nordics, Medicon Valley, is the result of more than 20 years of dedicated joint Danish and Swedish collaboration between regional authorities, universities and companies of all sizes.

We shall overcome
Instead of a more holistic, strategic and co-ordinated “All for one and one for all” approach based on common interest, it appears to be “Every man for himself”. But as the Musketeers were able to overcome their differences and quarrels to fight for a greater purpose – so should we.

When faced by formidable opposition, threats or competition, as was the case for the three Musketeers and the early Swiss Confederacy alike – and is the case for any current region trying to position itself in the highly competitive global life science industry – working together is probably a more likely recipe for success than trying to fly solo.

Hopefully, this wisdom will eventually prevail, and the Nordics will be able to realise its full potential as the preferred destination and most attractive location for life science in northern Europe.