Why Scandinavia is a Life Sciences Hub to Watch

by Andrii Buvailo, PhD    , Natalia Honchar    Contributor        Biopharma insight / Biopharma Insights

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Scandinavian countries are known for their active innovation in the worldwide market, including pharmaceutical and biotech fields. Numerous research institutes, start-up incubators, and grant opportunities give rise to active drug development, medical device innovation, and implementation of machine learning (ML) and quantum computing into these processes.


The Danish diabetes treatment giant Novo Nordisk, one of the worldwide leaders in insulin production, also has active pipelines for cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and rare diseases. In September 2022, they entered a new strategic collaboration with Microsoft, aimed to combine their powers and use computational services, cloud, and artificial intelligence (AI) with Novo Nordisk’s drug discovery, development, and data science capabilities.

Upon the newly established collaboration, Novo Nordisk and Microsoft will work in two main directions. One of the projects will be devoted to automated summarization and analysis of multi-sourced scientific data to gain novel insights. Another project aims to develop models that predict a person’s risk of developing atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular disease caused by the build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls. The AI will also be used to identify novel targets and establish biomarkers for the disease.

Shortly after the announced collaboration, ​​Novo Nordisk Foundation invested $200M to establish the first full-scale quantum computer for drug development and climate change insights generation. The 12-year Quantum Computing Programme was launched in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen, also involving world-leading researchers in quantum computing from Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, and the USA.

Novo Nordisk also commented that “challenges persist in developing a fully scaled, fault-tolerant, generally applicable quantum computer”, but they are going to take on this challenge since quantum computers have the potential to very rapidly perform complicated calculations, which would require years from regular computers.

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