The BioInnovation Institute as a catalyst for European life...

The BioInnovation Institute as a catalyst for European life science startup creation


To the Editor — Although a few European countries have had success in creating life science startups1, the continent as a whole still lags behind the USA in terms of number of startup deals and of total investments2. To try and harness the untapped potential of European research, Denmark’s Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF) has established the BioInnovation Institute (BII). The institute’s model relies on four pillars: first, knowledge within the BII team; second, access to a very large network of investors, industry experts and government experts; third, the availability of a company incubator with state-of-the-art laboratory facilities; and fourth, founder-friendly financing in the form of convertible loans to startups and of grants for academic company-creation projects. The combination of these four pillars not only supports accelerated translation of academic research into startups but also catapults these startups to financeable inflection points.

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Fig. 1: The BII model.


  1. van Wilgenburg, B., van Wilgenburg, K., Paisner, K., van Deventer, S. & Rooswinkel, R. W. Mapping the European startup landscape. Nat. Biotechnol. 37, 345–349 (2019).


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  2. Senior, M. Europe’s biotech renaissance. Nat. Biotechnol. 38, 408–415 (2020).


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We would like to thank our colleagues Matthias Wulf, Johanna Roostalu, Giles Dudley and Jonathan Robinson for constructive comments to this paper. We acknowledge funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to the BioInnovation Institute (grant no. NNF21SA0074038).

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  1. BioInnovation Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark

    Jens Nielsen, Markus J. Herrgård & Bobby Soni

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Jens Nielsen.

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The authors are part of the leadership of BII.

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Nielsen, J., Herrgård, M.J. & Soni, B. The BioInnovation Institute as a catalyst for European life science startup creation.
Nat Biotechnol (2022).

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