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Vaccine initiative comes to Copenhagen Science City

Novo Nordisk Foundation will establish the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Vaccines and Immunity (NCVI) at the University of Copenhagen. Novo Nordisk Foundation will establish the company Novo Nordisk Foundation Vaccine Accelerator (NVAC) Together the two initiatives are called Novo Nordisk Foundation Initiative for Vaccines and Immunity (NIVI)

In order to bring new, improved vaccines to market, The Novo Nordisk Foundation is now committing up to DKK 1.8 billion (248 mio EUR) to establish a state-of-the-art research and development initiative for vaccines. The aim is to create vaccines for some of the deadliest respiratory diseases, including tuberculosis and influenza. Developed together with Copenhagen Science City-partner University of Copenhagen, it is the first vaccines initiative globally to focus solely on understanding how to generate immunity in the airway itself.

Two initiatives linking research to development

Novo Nordisk Foundation Initiative for Vaccines and Immunity (NIVI) will establish the new research centre, the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Vaccines and Immunity (NCVI) at the University of Copenhagen. In order to ensure faster development of vaccine candidates the Novo Nordisk Foundation will establish the company Novo Nordisk Foundation Vaccine Accelerator (NVAC). A key partner in the two interlinked initiatives is Statens Serum Institut .

The aim of NIVI is to develop new and improved vaccine candidates especially against airborne infections. Many such airborne diseases have the potential to cause serious and even fatal infections. And as these diseases are infectious, they can lead to epidemics and pandemics, which is what happened with COVID-19.

We are proud that as a faculty and university, we are involved in establishing new types of initiatives like NIVI, specifically designed to advance translational research aimed at ensuring the transition from basic research to application. One of our main tasks is to put science into play for the benefit of society, and NIVI enables us to do just that, as it strengthens the connection between the leading vaccine and immunity research and commercial vaccine development”: Bente M. Stallknecht, Dean, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

New technology will limit the spread of respiratory infections

NIVI was designed in strong collaboration between the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Professor Thor Theander from the UCPH Department of Immunology and Microbiology (ISIM) and core personnel at Statens Serum Institut. Research at NCVI will focus on four areas: respiratory pathogens, airway immunity, vaccine platforms, and airway delivery. The research centre will be anchored at ISIM and will strengthen the department’s expertise within immunity, microbiology, and vaccine development.

If we want to improve our ability to prevent and treat respiratory infections, we need to generate more knowledge on airway immunity. This is made possible by the new initiative, and I am very proud to welcome a new, ambitious research centre to ISIM. ISIM already houses international experts in immunology and microbiology, and we have extensive experience in collaborating with hospitals, other research institutions and industry, which will be very beneficial for this new initiative”: Charlotte Menné Bonefeld, Head of Department, ISIM, University of Copenhagen.

From fundamental to applied research

Statens Serum Institut will be a key partner for NIVI. Statens Serum Institut is internationally recognized for its research within tuberculosis and expertise within vaccine development, which will be vital to the success of the initiative. Through basic and translational research, the researchers at NIVI will strive to generate new knowledge that will help us to a better understanding of vaccines and immunity. They will harness this knowledge and develop new vaccine candidates that have the potential to provide long-term, effective protection against respiratory pathogens.

Unique opportunity to develop new vaccine candidates

NCVI, which will be responsible for research and education within the initiative, will together with the other part of NIVI – a company owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation Vaccine Accelerator (NVAC) – ensure a faster development of vaccine candidates which may lead to more efficient vaccines. NVAC will strengthen the translation of the centre’s research results into phase 1 and 2 clinical studies, thus bridging the gap between basic science and clinical application.

The development of the COVID-19 vaccines demonstrated the extraordinary possibilities when interdisciplinary vaccine research and development are prioritised. With NIVI, the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the University of Copenhagen are building on that momentum and helping ensure that Denmark is at the forefront of translational vaccine science globally. With its long history in immunological and vaccine research and advanced technology, the university is the ideal partner for this initiative”: Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Any revenue generated by NVAC will be reinvested in NIVI and thereby contribute to even more research in and knowledge about vaccines and immunity.

About Copenhagen Science City

Copenhagen Science City is one of Europe’s strongest innovation districts. It is located in the heart of Copenhagen. It has a unique concentration of some of the best and brightest minds, highly educated students from all continents and a cluster of innovative companies based in inspiring co-working spaces and innovation hubs. Access to state-of-the-art research and transport infrastructure is abundant. Some of Denmark’s most attractive residential areas and recreational activities are nearby.
The development of Copenhagen Science City is run by a high-level, strategic partnership of knowledge institutions, companies, innovation hubs and public authorities.