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Handels- og investeringsministerens tale ved Medicon Valley Alliance Annual Meeting 2011

Medicon Valley Alliance Annual Meeting 2011
1 December 2011 / Copenhagen / Denmark
Medicon Valley 2020 - The Attractiveness of Medicon Valley and the Challenges Ahead

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Denmark´s got a new government less than two months ago. A government dedicated to show the world that Denmark is an open country – open to new ideas – open for international exchange – open for trade and investments and most important - open for people.  This is why I am very happy to stand here today before the Danish/Swedish life sciences community – as you are definitely one of the most international sectors of our business community.

Today I am here to present our vision for growth and job creation. This is one of our government´s most important “bottom lines” by which we will be measuring our success.

So how do we ensure a continued internationalisation of the Danish life sciences and welfare technology cluster, when it is no secret that a large number of companies are currently under a strong pressure?

There are external challenges such as lack of funding, increased competition, and limited spending in many of the traditional main markets. These are all good reasons to discuss the future internationalisation of the Danish life sciences and welfare technology cluster here today.

The government has a clear vision of increasing foreign investments into Denmark, of increasing our export, and of giving all companies the best possible platform for achieving higher growth and stronger job creation.

The key question is, of course, how do we turn this political vision into practical reality? How are we going to increase growth and job creation across all sectors? The Government has set out specific targets that we will be working towards. Those most relevant to the life sciences and welfare sector can be summarized in this way:

- We will improve the education level in Denmark across the board and give research and development much higher priority. We consider the level of education and innovation as crucial for improving our productivity.

- We will improve Denmark’s international competitiveness concerning the labour market through negotiations between the Government, the employer organisations and the trade unions in the near future.

- We will improve overall productivity in Denmark. As a first step the Government will establish a so-called “productivity commission” to map out the underlying factors, that have caused the growth of our productivity to lack behind that of our peers since the mid-nineties. The Commission will then come up with specific suggestions for solutions.

- And last, but not least, we will make the general framework conditions for doing business in Denmark even more competitive. 

This will be done through a number of initiatives. Let me just mention a few:

* We will carefully study when and how Public-Private-Partnerships can be utilized and when they make economic sense. I am sure you might already have read in the media about various ideas for instance having pension funds playing a more active role in investments in public services and infrastructure through Public-Private-Partnerships.

* We will promote innovation through active and intelligent procurement policies across the public sector.
These are initiatives that will improve framework conditions for companies in Denmark. But we also need to attract more foreign companies – especially within life sciences and welfare technology, because foreign investors are important to the Danish economy.

Since I was appointed Minister for Trade and Investment, I have met with companies from China, Europe and from the US, and the message from these meetings is clear: Denmark has something to offer, despite the fierce competitive pressures from a globalized world economy:

- We have a labour market that is second to none when it comes to flexibility. Businesses in Denmark are in an excellent position to react quickly in order to adapt to market changes.

- Then there is the question of skills and competences. Despite the need for boosting the quality of the education system in some areas, the general level of education within the Danish work force is quite high. We have world leading expertise within specific life science areas such as metabolic diseases, CNS, medical devices and welfare technology.

- Openness in Denmark has been mentioned several times in the past 10 years as one of our major problems. There shall be no doubt – that these are new times, and Denmark will change. We will open up to business and seize the opportunities of globalization. Through the last 10 years we have been hiding behind mental walls maintaining an antiquated immigration policy. It has been bad for business, a source of frustration to many of you, and harmful to growth and job creation in Denmark. It is not only possible, but necessary to move in a new direction. And I will do my utmost to make this happen.

The Danish Government has its focus on smart growth, where life sciences and welfare technology are important parts of this vision. By smart growth I mean focus on areas where we are able to combine global challenges and growing demand with Danish strongholds – and thereby create growth and new jobs in Denmark. This does not mean that we should adopt a “pick the winners”- strategy pure and simple. That will be too crude to work in practice. But it does mean that the Government should ensure the best possible framework conditions for Danish companies operating in the stronghold areas. It is my mission as Minister to help Denmark thrive in today’s globalized economy by way of adopting a smart growth-strategy.

Invest in Denmark has been following a strategy of focus on Danish strongholds for many years. This has led to the establishment of a number of foreign companies, such as the Beijing Genomics Institute, whom I just met last week in China. We have also seen venture investments from Seventure and public-private-partnership involving companies such as Genomic Expression.

The investment from the French venture company Seventure is an excellent example. It is no secret that the number of venture investments into life sciences has almost come to a standstill in the past years, but in 2010 Seventure made their fifth investment into the Danish life science industry since 2005. All assisted by Invest in Denmark. This shows that with a dedicated and sector focused approach, it is possible to generate good results in attracting more foreign companies to Denmark.

An equally important element of the new government growth strategy will be exports. The export from the Danish life sciences and welfare technology cluster is a key part of Danish exports. The export of medicine grew by 15,3 per cent in the first half of 2011, and with an expected total of 60 billion DKK it accounts for more than 10 per cent of total Danish exports.

But we can do even better. If we compare Danish exports to that of our neighbouring countries, there is still a large untapped potential in the BRIC countries and the other growth markets. If we could export as much per capita as Sweden and Germany does, our total export would increase by 14 billion DKK – more than 23%.

The government is determined to increase exports to the BRICS countries and other growth markets. That is why the new fiscal law allocates an additional 50 million DKK towards increased export- and investment promotion work in the BRICS countries and the other growth markets.

We are currently preparing a new strategy for Danish exports to the BRICS countries. The strategy will be developed in close dialogue with other ministries, Danish business, and organisations. I expect to be able to present the strategies early next year. It is my ambition that we will deliver both specific initiatives, as well as at the same time begin the transition towards an increased focus on the growth markets.

All of these are initiatives that will help increase the attractiveness of the Danish life sciences and welfare cluster, and thereby Medicon Valley. As I mentioned it is my ambition that specific initiatives be developed in close co-operation with companies and business organisations.

Let me underline, that we will only be able to make significant progress in the future if we work together and maintain a close and open dialogue.

Thank you very much for the invitation to come here today to give you my views on the efforts of the Danish Government to strengthen the Danish Life science cluster. I look forward to discussing the future development of Medicon Valley with you here today.  Thank you.