A global centre for microbiome research

Discover why our region is a growing hub for microbiome research and how the framework conditions for establishing a research facility here are among the best in the world.

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Collaborative approach

80+ companies, organisations and institutions are a part of the regional microbiome ecosystem in Greater Copenhagen. Together they cover industry, academia, and healthcare, providing a strong triple helix ecosystem.

Nordic centre of life science
Greater Copenhagen is the metropolitan region that covers eastern Denmark and the southernmost part of Sweden. The region is home to Medicon Valley, which is the leading life science cluster in the Nordics. Medicon Valley brings together top universities, hospitals, global R&D-based pharma companies, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, providing a strong triple helix ecosystem.


Multi-disciplinary microbiome hub
Greater Copenhagen's ecosystem includes 80+ companies, organisations, and institutions working actively within the field of the microbiome. The region’s industry, academia and clinical environments collaborate across disciplines to bridge basic and applied science, and to establish connections and generate knowledge. All efforts have the ultimate purpose of enabling microbiome-based innovations for the benefit of health and the environment.


Hear it from the microbiome companies

Learn why BioGaia, Chr. Hansen and Ferring are all benefitting from being placed in the Greater Copenhagen region.

Leveraging the microbiome across disease areas

The Greater Copenhagen region takes an extensive approach to leverage the microbiome across a broad range of segments, offering multiple perspectives.

Metabolic diseases

Impressive academic achievements from researchers based in research centres such as Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research and Clinical Research Centre at the University of Copenhagen as well as Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine at Lund University.

Autoimmune diseases / immunology

Leading research environments include COPSAC Herlev-Gentofte Hospital, DTU Bioengineering, and University of Copenhagen’s Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences. Probiotic companies such as BioGaia, Chr. Hansen, ImmuneBiotech, and Probi are increasingly focusing in this area.

Women & infant health

 

There is a strong industry commitment from regional players such as Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Gedea Biotech, and Viramal, who seek to maintain and improve women and infant health through microbiome-based solutions.

 

Nutrition & functional food

 

Long engagement by industry players such as Chr. Hansen, Arla and Dupont. An active research environment through academic groups such as DTU Food, University of Copenhagen’s Department of Food Science and Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, and Lund University’s Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition.

Probiotics & pharmabiotics

Presence of several industry players like BioGaia, Chr. Hansen, LactoBio and Probi, focusing in nutrigenomics in prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics, and post-biotics health effects. High level of regional clinical trial activity within dietary supplements related to probiotics and pharmabiotics compared to the global average.

Non-human: Plant, animal, and environmental microbiomes

Leading research environments include COPSAC Herlev-Gentofte Hospital, DTU Bioengineering, and University of Copenhagen’s Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences. Probiotic companies such as BioGaia, Chr. Hansen, ImmuneBiotech, and Probi are increasingly focusing in this area.

Bioinformatics & therapeutics

Innovative and scientifically robust scaleups and organisations such as Bioneer, Clinical Microbiomics, and SNIPR Biome. Research groups and infrastructure focused on bioinformatics are present in, amongst others, the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Immunology and Microbiology, BRIC Bioinformatics Core Facility, and the NBIS - National Bioinformatics Infrastructure Sweden, which Lund University is a part of.

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Want additional information? Read more about the Microbiome segments and  ecosystem in Medicon Valley.

3 examples of triple helix collaborations in Greater Copenhagen

BioGaia and Region Skåne (the regional public healthcare body in Skåne) are conducting a clinical trial on whether probiotics can help to treat “inflammatory depression”. The clinical trial is based in Lund, Sweden, and will be held from 2018-2021.

Chr. Hansen and BioGaia are two key players in the industry that have joined forces to make probiotic-focused products that address Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC).

Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Probi and Follicum together with Lund University and Region Skåne collaborate to develop novel strategies for the treatment, prevention and cure of diabetes.

Strong industry engagement

40+ companies develop microbiome-based therapies and solutions in Greater Copenhagen – including microbiome champions such as Ferring, Chr. Hansen, Novozymes, BioGaia and Probi.

Fruitful partnerships
The life science industries in Greater Copenhagen are renowned for their innovative incubation environments, strong product pipelines, and heavy R&D focus. It is home to several innovation labs and experimental spaces. Here, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit flow to enhance cooperation between start-ups, businesses, and other partners.

Engages both microbiome champions and innovative start-ups
Greater Copenhagen is home to 40+ companies developing microbiome-based therapies and solutions. Key players such as Chr. Hansen, Ferring, Novozymes, BioGaia, and Probi have many years of experience in developing and commercializing research-backed solutions and continue to have a strong microbiome focus. But the region is not only for the big players. Innovative start-ups and scaleups such as SNIPR Biome and Clinical Microbiomics are also based here.

In total, more than 350 biotech, medtech & pharma companies with local R&D are based in the region, including large industry players such as Novo Nordisk, LEO Pharma, Baxter, and Lundbeck, as well as smaller innovative start-ups.

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BioInnovation Institute - an international hub for innovation and entrepreneurship

The BioInnovation Institute (BII) is a faculty and creation house which are promoting life science spinouts from research at the Technical University of Denmark on the Danish side and LU Innovation and LU Holding on the Swedish side.

The first two university projects that joined the BII Faculty for a 3-year period from Jan 2020 are both related to the microbiome (“Microbial cell therapies for modulating the gut-brain axis”; and “Microbial production of therapeutic alkaloids”). Each project will be granted € 800,000 per year starting in 2020.

Cutting-edge research environment

Greater Copenhagen has a solid, scientific, and interdisciplinary life science environment. Again and again, this unique environment leverages cutting-edge microbiome research within the region.

Life science magnet
44,000 people in the Danish-Swedish life science sector are employed in Greater Copenhagen. There are nine universities conducting research within life sciences, with 14,500 life science researchers and 6,000 PhD students.

Impressive number of research publications
The region has generated close to 900 microbiome-related research publications between 2014 and 2019, with a considerable number published in prominent journals such as Nature. Highly ranked academic institutions such as the University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark, and Lund University, are engaged in researching the microbiome from a wide range of disciplines.

Attractive location for clinical trials
Greater Copenhagen has more microbiome-related clinical trials than several major European countries. Since 2001, close to 140 microbiome-related clinical trials have taken place here - more than 80 of them since 2015. These have involved collaborators from 20+ different countries, showing the international reach and interest in conducting clinical trials in Greater Copenhagen. There are also several clinical environments in the region where Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) trials are currently conducted.

This compelling environment for conducting clinical trials is supported by organisations such as Trial Nation, Statens Serum Institut, and Clinical Studies Sweden Forum South.

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Close to 900 microbiome-related research publications, affiliated with Greater Copenhagen, were published between 2014 and 2019 and involved collaborations with more than 80 countries.

Source: PubMed database search 2020.

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Researchers affiliated with Greater Copenhagen were behind 7% of all microbiome-related research publications in the British Scientific Journal Nature and its sister journals during the past 5 years.

Source: PubMed database search 2020.

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139 microbiome-related clinical trials based in Greater Copenhagen
since 2001 (80+ of them since 2015), involved collaborators from 24 countries.

Source: clinicaltrials.gov, Jan 2020.

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The number of clinical trials within dietary supplements conducted in the Greater Copenhagen region is significantly higher than the global average.

First movers in fermentation

An essential biochemical breakdown
Fermentation is the biochemical breakdown of organic matter by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms. The breakdown results in desirable changes to a foodstuff, beverage, or production of useful substances such as food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals.

Probably the best place in the world to learn about yeast and fermentation
The Greater Copenhagen region has one of the biggest concentrations of fermentation engineers and activities - in the world. This is due to the long heritage from its world-renowned Danish breweries: Carlsberg, which was established in 1874, and Tuborg in 1880. Plus, the world-leading food ingredients company Chr. Hansen, established in 1874.

Fermentation is fundamental to successful production
Fermentation technologies serve as the basis for producing drugs, vitamins, and food ingredients for some of Denmark’s world-leading biotech companies, such as Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, Chr. Hansen, and DuPont (Danisco).

Fermentation is a core activity of the gut microbiome and fundamental to the production of probiotics. The strong fermentation history, expertise, and capacities in the region create a strong foundation for the realization of novel microbiome-based solutions.

New fermentation study programs
The importance of fermentation technologies in the region is further emphasized by the development of new study programs in the region. These programs will not only ensure the necessary highly skilled competencies for the industry in the field but also boost sustainable biotechnological production.

World’s highest concentration of fermentation engineers and activities in Greater Copenhagen

With more than 140 years of experience – Chr. Hansen is a global bioscience company that develops natural solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries.

World’s first educational program in fermentation - In January 2018, the Novo Nordisk Foundation granted the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) €25 million to establish an educational program in fermentation - the first in the world of its kind

Huge food ingredients suppliers - Denmark supplies more food ingredients per citizen than any other country in the world.

Microbial Flow Cytometry laboratory - Lund University’s Microbial Flow Cytometry laboratory is a multidisciplinary research platform allowing researchers from all disciplines to perform advanced and cooperative microbial research on single cells in multi-cellular communities in real conditions.

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Role model for sustainability

The Greater Copenhagen region is home to several world-renowned sustainability champions.

Top sustainability lists
Sweden and Denmark are both high on various lists ranking the world’s most sustainable countries. Sweden is the world’s most sustainable country on RobecoSAM’s country ESG ranking. While Denmark is number one on the Sustainable Development Goals Index.

Microbiome-active companies among the world’s most sustainable
Meeting the global food demand while using fewer environmental resources is crucial. Microbiome approaches provide significant opportunities to enhance productivity in environmentally sustainable ways in both food production, agriculture, aquaculture, and livestock.

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World’s most sustainable corporation: Greater Copenhagen company Chr. Hansen was awarded the prestigious title of The World’s Most Sustainable Corporation 2019 in the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations index (Corporate Knights). In 2020, the company cemented its position in the world elite of sustainable companies, coming in second on the list. In 2020, Novozymes, also based in Greater Copenhagen came in sixth on the list.

Natural solutions for sustainable agricultural production: In November 2018, the Innovation Fund Denmark awarded a €3.9 million grant to a 4-year project called Bac4Crop. The project involves Chr. Hansen, the University of Copenhagen, and the Danish Technological Institute (DTI). The three partners are joining forces to develop natural solutions for sustainable agricultural production. The goal is to increase yield for farmers globally and to provide consumers with crops exposed to fewer chemicals.

Neutral CO2 footprint and increased production: On the Swedish side of Greater Copenhagen, McNeil’s Helsingborg plant, together with Helsingborg municipality and Öresundskraft, achieved a neutral climate impact (CO2 footprint) in 2018, while maintaining production volumes. In 2019, the plant further increased production volumes while maintaining its neutral CO2 footprint.

World’s first industrial symbiosis: In 1972, The Kalundborg Symbiosis was established in Greater Copenhagen - a partnership between the Danish city of Kalundborg and eleven public and private industrial companies. It has led to new ways of production with a more circular approach, where waste from one company becomes a resource for another. As one of the first industrial parks to collaborate in this manner, international scientists have followed their process and introduced the term “industrial symbiosis”. In 2018 they won the Gothenburg Sustainability Award in the category industrial symbiosis.

Reliable data infrastructure

The Greater Copenhagen region has access to unique regional and national biobanks and cohort studies that enable high-quality microbiome research.

Access to extensive healthcare data
Data registries contain population-based extensive healthcare data and socioeconomic information. Biobanks are organised at different levels nationally, regionally, and locally at hospitals, but interconnected through the unique civil registration system in Denmark and Sweden. This enables linking biological samples with the data registries in research projects.

Cross-link between lifestyle, disease, and environmental factors
All Danish and Swedish citizens have a personal identification code - a system that has been in place for more than 50 years. This ID code allows for different registries to be cross-linked for the individual citizens, allowing for relevant associations between lifestyle, environmental factors, and disease to be discovered in order to provide optimal treatment for the patient.

Biobanks for high-quality microbiome research
The long history of the registries, and the continuous improvement of the data, which often spans generations, create value for researchers.

Biobanks and cohort studies such as COPSAC, TEDDY, and MOS (see below) are used as a base for high-quality microbiome research. For example, COPSAC has two mother-child cohorts with detailed clinical phenotyping and profiling of various microbiomes. It is linked to the Danish National Biobank, one of the world's largest biobanks storing more than 25 million biological samples. It is a unique resource for the benefit of research on the causes of disease, their prevention and treatment. - The world’s largest stem cell biobank is located at Lund University, further enabling basic research.

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COPSAC

COPSAC is a clinical research unit for pediatric asthma research with the aim of developing evidence-based prevention strategies.

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Danish Cancer Socíety
 
The Danish Cancer Society Research Center has conducted the most extensive population study in Denmark, a 3-generation family study called Diet, Cancer, Health, Next Generation (DCH-NG).

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TEDDY
 
Skåne is one site of this multi-center cohort in relation to pediatric type 1 diabetes. Of the 8,667 children participating in the study, 30% are from Skåne. 115 studies published so far, many related to the microbiome.

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Malmö Offspring Study
 
MOS includes children and grandchildren of the large Malmö Preventive Medicine and Malmö Diet and Cancer studies.

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Funding opportunities

Foundations and public funding bodies are cornerstones for funding microbiome research in the Greater Copenhagen region.

Massive funding fuel
Microbiome research in the region has been fuelled by major foundations such as Novo Nordisk Foundation, Lundbeck Foundation, Danish National Research Foundation, LEO Foundation, Villum Foundation, and Innovation Fund Denmark. In the southern Swedish region of Skåne, Vinnova, and Vetenskapsrådet have granted funds for Lund University-based research and companies in Skåne.

Multi-disciplinary partnerships
The foundations and public funding bodies promote international collaboration and provide co-funding for public-private collaborative projects. This provides opportunities for partnerships across industry, academic and clinical environments within the region as well as internationally. This stimulates the continuous development of the region’s microbiome research and innovation.

Learn more about microbiome funding in the Greater Copenhagen region

 

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Photo credits:
KU Science Lab - © Photograper Nicolai Perjesi, COBIS - © Photograper Ty Stange, Botanical Gardens - © Photograper Christian Lindgren,  Apple - © Photograper Food Nation,  Novo Nordisk Gladsaxe - © Photograper Nicolai Perjesi.