The Valley of Life: Life science is a global race

Salaries, tax revenue and export earnings from the life science industry has become the Danish equivalent of the goose that lays the golden eggs. 

Badly-needed skills
As documented in the recently published analysis ‘Life Science in Eastern Denmark’, Greater Copenhagen Life science companies in eastern Denmark are investing more than 45 billion kroner in expanding their plants, offices, and R&D facilities. 

Around 200 new life science companies have been founded in eastern Denmark since 2017, and in total the life science industry employs 58,000 people in this part of the country alone. 

Surely, a lot of framework conditions need to be in place to support the industry. Life science is a global race, and the most unique and essential raw material needed to keep the life science engine running is highly-skilled people. 

To be able to rev up the engine, accelerate and keep the pace in front of the pack, we need a continuous inflow of well-educated, innovative and industrious people with the right qualifications and mindset. 

Lessens the global impact
A reasonable assumption is that most foreign talents do not speak Danish and thus need a helping-hand in our education system. 

Nevertheless, the Socialdemokratiet government, supported by both the left-wing socialist party SF and the Venstre and Konservative opposition parties, last year struck a political deal aimed at limiting the number of courses taught in English and thereby the number of foreign students in Denmark. 

This agreement runs contrary to the interest of the life science industry. We need the exact opposite. We need globally-orientated, world-class educational institutions able to attract the most qualified students from all over the world to help cross-fertilise our local educational and R&D environment.   

Key counteraction
Fortunately, Dansk Industri and Dansk Erhverv have recently put forward joint proposals to counter the negative effects of last year’s short-sighted political deal-making.

Their specific suggestions, among other things, aim to grow the number of foreign students by a thousand and ensure that these extra students are introduced to local business and/or industry as soon as possible. 

Contrary to the current majority in Parliament, the heads of Dansk Industri and Dansk Erhverv, the president of Copenhagen Business School – along with other key opinion leaders with hands-on experience and in-depth knowledge about education, globalisation, business and innovation – have adopted a long-term perspective on the subject matter. 

I sincerely hope this long-term perspective will prevail. Both our wealth and health depend on it.