Modeling the Danish Life Science Innovation System: Considerations for Foreign Firms Seeking Public-Private Collaboration

Kelly Thomas Ainsworth

Student thesis: Master thesis


Recent literature on innovation systems consistently asserts that innovation is a context dependent process, directly and indirectly influenced by the socio-cultural, political and institutional elements of its surroundings. This paper models the Danish life science innovation system, a network system of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical technology industries operating in and around the greater Copenhagen region, including the involvement of private firms, universities, research institutions, intermediaries and government actors. The purpose of modeling the system is two fold: The first is to familiarize foreign firms with the Danish life science innovation system so they may take an informed and guided approach to collaborating with local public Danish institutions; the second is to map the Danish system for policy makers, so that they may understand the challenges faced by foreign firms when considering a collaboration with public Danish institutions, and realize the positive and negative effects government policy has on this process. Investigation into the system identified four factors inherently present in the Danish life science innovation system which affect public-private collaborations. These factors were developed in the historical context of Danish society and play a facilitating role when both partners of a publicprivate collaboration are Danish; however they have a detrimental effect when the collaborating firm is of foreign origin. Therefore a foreign firm’s likelihood of success in collaboration with a public Danish institution is dependent upon their ability to mitigate these factors. A conceptual framework of the Danish life science innovation system is provided, including a discussion and analysis on the four factors. The results of the study suggest foreign firms are at a natural disadvantage in comparison to Danish firms when collaborating with public Danish institutions, driven largely by disadvantageous social, political and cultural elements.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages82