The lively and innovative cross-border cluster of medical biotechnology companies in the Copenhagen area and in southern Sweden – called Medicon Valley – has given Denmark a Europe-leading reputation in what is trendily referred to as "red" biotech.
This colourful terminology is designed to distinguish it from industrial biotechnology or "white" biotech, which is another area where Denmark stands a chance of creating a successful cluster thanks to the domestic presence of global industry leaders like enzyme giants Novozymes and Danisco, and cutting-edge research programmes at the Technical University of Denmark.
One of the characteristics of white biotech that could see investors giving increasing attention to it is the fact that the time span from idea to market is typically much shorter – 3 to 5 years, compared to 10-12 years for a biomedical product, and that regulatory requirements tend to be fewer.
Although so far it has been easier to raise risk capital for red biotech than for white, Novozymes' R&D director Per Falholt opines in a recent article by professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer) that this may well change: "When investors see that white biotech can produce faster yields, things will change. And it could certainly be excellent yields. There is a big market for example if one finds a solution for the energy sector, which is far bigger than the pharma sector."
Sten Verland, partner in Sunstone Capital, told Ingeniøren: "There is money to be earned in this budding sector, and since it is presumed with white biotech that things will go more rapidly from idea to market, it should become an area that attracts investors who put focus on a faster exit horizon."