Alistair Vincent Gorden Edwards (Sydney, Australia)
Before: PhD researcher at The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Now: Scientist, Zealand Pharma, Copenhagen, Denmark
California has Silicon Valley. Denmark has Medicon Valley.
Medicon Valley is quickly becoming a global hub for biotech and medtech – a place where scientists, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are congregating from all over the world. For Alistair, a dual Australian and British citizen who came to Denmark from Sydney in 2011, being a part of Medicon Valley’s growing community seemed like a great career opportunity from the start. It was Denmark’s lifestyle, though, that sealed the deal.
"There are places like Boston, Silicon Valley or even Switzerland that are great for making a career, too, but the model for the society as a whole here was really the deciding factor for us," says Alistair, a PhD and mass spectrometry specialist who today works as a scientist at Zealand Pharma. ”Local life science players recognise the benefits of supporting a robust community and are really putting a lot of resources into it.”
Medicon Valley is built up around a core of pharmaceutical giants like Novo Nordisk, Lundbeck and Ferring and stretches from Copenhagen into southern Sweden. The region includes 12 universities and 32 hospitals and, as Alistair points out, an entire ecosystem of small start-ups and support companies. According to the Medicon Valley Alliance, the largest membership organisation in the region, 140,000 people are employed in the life sciences in Medicon Valley.
"When we first came to Denmark, we lived in Odense, a town of about 150,000 people and I worked at the university there, University of Southern Denmark, as a researcher," Alistair explains. ”My position there was an academic one, so after three years it was exciting to get closer to the commercial side of things.”
The couple decided to move an hour-and-half’s drive east to Copenhagen in 2015, in part to make it easy for Alistair’s wife to find work in Denmark’s financial industry. Since then, Alistair has found plenty to do – both in Medicon Valley and outside of work.
"Outside of my job, I support start-up companies through providing scientific and commercial advice to help them refine their strategy and execution plans" he says. "And at home, we are expecting our first child. So that is going to keep me busy in the future too, I am sure."