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In the footsteps of four great entrepreneurs

The Minister for Higher Education and Science Esben Lunde Larsen's speech at Novo Scholarship Symposium 9 November 2015 in Bagsværd.

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Dear All

Thank you for the invitation. I am very happy to be here.

Dear Novo Scholarship recipients.


You are now officially ambassadors for a distinguished company with a long and bright history.

This is not just an honour. It is a commitment.

Since its foundation in 1923, Novo has developed into a huge player on the pharmaceutical world scene.

I wonder if the founders - August and Marie Krogh, Hans Christian Hagedorn and August Kongsted – could have imagined this even in their wildest dreams.

Since the very beginning, Novo has excelled in making smart decisions and expanding wisely.

Step by step the portfolio has been broadened.

Novo’s ability to plan ahead, focus on the future, and see beyond a narrow core output is, from my perspective, a huge reason for its success.

It is also the reason why we are gathered here today.

To celebrate you, recipients of Novo Scholarship.

We celebrate your passion for science and your talent.

And we celebrate that you – with the Novo Scholarship - have been given the chance to nurture both.

A great opportunity to make the most of your studies and to focus solely on your thesis.

The scholarships are therefore of great value to you who have received an award.

But it is also of value for the Novo cooperation and for the Danish society as a whole.

Novo needs highly skilled people within research and development. People with ideas and talent.

And Denmark needs businesses such as Novo and Novozymes where talents transform knowledge into new products, growth and jobs for future talents. 

Denmark needs you.

So applaud yourself and keep up your good work.

Talent and science are essentials for the devel-opment of a knowledge-based economy.

And you are among the drivers to make this development a reality.

Share your science

You will make important discoveries during your research endeavours. Of that I am sure.

And I will encourage you to share your scientific results.

In Denmark we need to be better at making use of the excellent research conducted. We need to make our scientific results accessible.

And why?

Because science gives us new knowledge and is a significant driver for the development of society.

Knowledge strengthens the general education and both qualify and enlighten the social debates.

And knowledge can be transformed into innovation, growth and jobs. 

Denmark is doing well in both research and innovation.

Danish researchers are among the most cited in the world and Denmark holds a 2. place on the European Innovation Union Scoreboard.

But when it comes to commercialisation there is room for improvement.

We need to be better at translating science into economic growth.

And this can only be achieved if scientific results are shared.

Shared and discussed with other researchers, with the public sector and with business so they can be transformed into both innovation and commercialisation.

With this scholarship you are encouraged to share your science.

You are encouraged to become an ambassador and to show future generations how interesting science and research is.

I find this task of great importance to stimulate coming talents.

And I consider it as good practise in regards to the overall importance of sharing knowledge.

So embrace your role as ambassadors and begin to share your science. 

We need to encourage the talents

While you make use of your research talent, I will make sure that better opportunities to perfect your skills are created.

I will herald a focus on the extraordinary gifted and ambitious students on the higher research institutions.

Students diverge - both in talent and in ambitions.

We need to take this into account and allow for special abilities to flourish.

Therefore, it is a political priority for the government to establish a framework that acknowledges and motivates the talents.

It can be special elite educations, first-class honours or top-class educational courses. Or maybe something else.

Before I decide on a concrete proposal I will look abroad for inspiration. On practices in top universities around the world.

And I will discuss it with both knowledge institutions and the Danish business community.

Bottom line is that we all need stimulus to do our best – stimulus to make a special effort.

And some students with extraordinary abilities just need it at a higher level.

I will do what I can to make this happen. Because we cannot afford to lose out on talent.

We need to use internationalisation to increase the quality of science and education

Denmark is a small country. And we cannot afford to close the door to the outside world.

The interaction with the international community is a bridge to new knowledge and competencies and thereby to increased learning and higher quality in both research and education.

My advice to you is therefore: Go abroad.

Learn from strong international research environments and bring back the knowledge to Denmark.

Studying abroad can also enrich you personally.

Several studies show that it contributes to competencies that equip you for the global labour market. 

It gives you intercultural understanding and enhances your language capabilities.

Furthermore, it strengthens what you can call “the hidden competencies”.

Competencies such as openness, tolerance, curiosity, productivity and the ability to solve problems.

In other words, studying abroad contributes to vitality in both the professional and private life.

While it is beneficial with a global outlook, I will also emphasise the importance of attracting and keeping talent in Denmark.

We are fortunate to have many foreign students in our country.

And through programmes such as Top Talent initiated and conducted by Innovation Centre Denmark in for example China and Brazil, we are recruiting more. 

But we need to be better at making them stay and engage in the Danish labour market. 

We know that a lot of international students wish to settle down in Denmark.

But we also know that concrete job offers in other countries make them leave. The competition is strong.

This challenge demands both political action and engagement from the Danish business community.

Therefore, I have initiated the preparation of a strategy on how we ensure that more graduates stay in Denmark – in cooperation with the companies.

Furthermore, I have allocated DKK 3 million to the business academies and university colleges to be used on pilot projects.

Together with both companies and Danish Regions, the institutions are encouraged to conduct projects on how to attract and maintain international graduates to municipalities with labour shortage and to our business sector in general.

Private commitment in research is essential

To advance the Danish position within the global knowledge competition we also need more public–private partnerships.

We need a closer interaction between research institutions and companies.

Only through these partnerships, new knowledge will turn into innovation and new products and lead to growth and job creation.

The Novo cooperation is a good example of the benefits of the private commitment in research.

In 2014 Novo spent DKK 14 billion on research and development – in the division employing 7.000 people.

The company has created excellent research centres and – while crossing the border between the public and the private sector - makes valuable research with commercial outcomes.

Furthermore, the Novo Cooperation develops talents.

Just think about the reason for why we are here today - celebrating 25 young research talents.

With the Novo Scholarship, the company gives you the opportunity to nurse your talent and follow your passion for science.

They play a part in securing the highly skilled employees of tomorrow.

Thank you to Novo Nordisk and Novozymes.

All your efforts are appreciated!


Dear recipients of the Novo Scholarship.

A promising future lies ahead of you, and that is the best example of freedom – that you can choose your own future.

Use this opportunity wisely to handle your future career – in a public research institution, a private company or maybe as an entrepreneur.

And use it wisely to handle your future as a competent citizen.

If you continue to be committed and to take reponsibility you will be able to influence not only your own but also the future of society.

You will be able to create results that can benefit science and society.

Congratulations and the best of luck to you all.

And with these words I am happy to present the Novo Scholarship recipients 2015 and 2016.

Will the excellent students please stand up?

last modified Dec 18, 2015