NOME, the elite Mentoring Program for Nordic life science startups, has secured 13.5 million DKK from the Novo Nordisk Foundation for the next three years. The new funding will allow NOME to expand its operations by onboarding more companies, new mentors, additional partner organizations, exploring new research fields such as industrial biotech, and growing NOME into nearby regions.

Two promising regions are Northern Germany and the Baltics. Firstly, both of these regions represent high innovation and expertise, where NOME can broaden the pool of top-level mentors and secure an inbound traffic of innovation and talent to the Nordics. Secondly, establishing a presence in these proximate regions will provide the companies in NOME with entry points to important foreign markets.

The Nordics are among the most innovative countries in the world, but are less effective in translating the innovation into new companies with scaling potential, compared to other leading life science regions. The NOME mentoring model fills a gap in the ecosystem and will continue to facilitate long-term mentorship by 2-4 mentors with complementary backgrounds for each company enrolled in the mentoring program.

“Our ambition for NOME is to continue the work of establishing a well-functioning Nordic Life Science ecosystem, with the goal of supporting the best Nordic startups’ that can be transformed into commercial successes. The highly experienced mentors share their knowledge and global network to both accelerate the business development phase as well as long-term level of success”, says Kerstin Jakobsson, CEO, Medicon Village Innovation.

The new funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation allows NOME to expand its well-proven mentoring model, and with that, help Nordic companies, mentors and funding to cross borders in order to create the biggest possible impact for future health- and industrial biotech solutions.

Current achievements

Since its start in 2016, NOME has enrolled 40+ promising companies from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, which together have raised more than 1.4 billion DKK, and onboarded 75+ highly-experienced investors, serial entrepreneurs and high-profile life science executives in the Nordics and the U.S. as mentors. The mentors provide value in the form of introductions to investors and commercial partners, assist with license agreements and transactions, and provide pivotal input to business strategies and product development.

”We see a lot of newly started companies in the Nordics, which result in an increasing need for support and mentoring to optimise outcome. NOME has an important role to play providing this support. One unique feature with NOME is that mentors from all Nordic countries with a panacea of experiences and skills are available. It is therefore very beneficial that NOME can continue its important work with the support from the Novo Nordisk Foundation”, says Anders Ekblom, NOME Mentor and Chairman/Director of several life science company boards.

Today, seven Nordic partner organizations run NOME: Denmark-based Accelerace, Norway-based Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and Aleap, Sweden-based Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB and Medicon Village, and Finland-based Vertical Accelerator and Turku Science Park Ltd. As different countries and regions have different strengths and challenges, sharing expertise and mentor resources is a way to optimize the allocation of resources between the Nordic countries.

Backstory of NOME

NOME was founded on the initiative of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, initially for a five-year funding period. The vision for NOME was twofold. Firstly, to propel the most promising Nordic startups into internationally renowned commercial successes by leveraging the knowledge of high-profile mentors with global networks. Secondly, to connect the Nordic ecosystem across the life science sector to facilitate knowledge exchange and create critical mass to attract global capital and partnerships to Nordic life science companies.

“NOME effectively activates a huge untapped resource by providing access for new entrepreneurs to the knowledge of the most experienced leaders in the life science industry. We are thrilled about the new funding and the opportunity it gives us to carry out our plans and further develop the NOME network as a ‘must-have’ with maximal impact and value in the Nordic life science ecosystem”, says Peter Birk, Accelerace.

Since the launch in 2016, NOME has developed into a widely known and respected network. Mentoring by highly experienced industry professionals is the core of NOME. The Annual Meeting and the US camp, which offers intense workshops and one-on-one sessions around topics such as IP, regulatory and market access from local US mentors, have also become two important institutions.