Christian Carlsen, Business Director of NNE, showcases the diverse Danish ecosystem and explains how NNE is striving to accomplish its mission of adding value to the medical cannabis industry.
Denmark proudly supports its healthcare services, showcasing a long history of life science, further coupled with valuable experience in agriculture and horticulture. Now, with a rapidly evolving medical cannabis industry, Denmark has the opportunity to cohesively align its progressing ecosystem to work together with diverse companies emerging in the medical cannabis marketplace. NNE, the international company specialising in pharma engineering, is at the forefront of this movement.
NNE services are tailored to the highly GMP-regulated pharmaceutical industry. The company provides end-to-end engineering services for the pharmaceutical sector and, in early 2019, established a team dedicated to the promotion and development of the medical cannabis industry through strategic business consulting on the growth, production and distribution of the plant, pharmaceutical formulations of the plant extract, along with providing general traditional business consulting and investment cases.
NNE Business Director Christian Carlsen tells Medical Cannabis Network about NNE’s ambitions to bring value not only to the Danish ecosystem, but also to the cannabis industry; and further explores how the ecosystem and industry can bring value to NNE.
Valuing the power of the Danish ecosystem
Before we delve into the world of NNE and explore its contribution to the cannabis industry, it is important to understand how influential Denmark’s history and experience as a leading country in the pharmaceutical and horticultural industries has been, as well as the advantages the country offers to potential investors.
Denmark has an illustrious history in agriculture and the production of food, meaning it has an excellent understanding of the horticulture industry. With longstanding expertise in cultivation, the country showcases the opportunity to bridge its existing agriculture and horticulture experience with developing pharma companies.
Alongside Denmark’s accomplished track record in horticulture, after implementing a four-year medical cannabis pilot programme two years ago, the Danish government also established a special development scheme which provided licences for the growth and handling of cannabis, in order to enable businesses to develop medical cannabis-based products. When combining the existing cultivation capabilities of Denmark with the well-designed legislative framework the government has in place, along with the growing development of innovative pharma companies, Denmark presents an effective ecosystem for cannabis companies to thrive in.
Collaboration is key
NNE Business Director Christian Carlsen discusses the development of the Danish ecosystem, as well as the public-private partnerships and how NNE can enable both to effectively succeed; saying: “We have the expertise and the talent pool, along with an efficient energy system and infrastructure. In a young industry such as the cannabis industry, collaboration across public and private entities is key for efficient development; the acceleration of knowledge; and qualified expertise.”
NNE aspires to cohesively utilise all aspects of the supply chain and effectively combine all elements in to one innovative and adaptable ecosystem. Carlsen explains how the Danish business ecosystem consists of competent partners with whom foreign investors can co-operate seamlessly. Interest from various stakeholders – from advanced tech companies to investors, lawyers, and banks – is increasing. NNE’s existing collaborations with the likes of Invest in Denmark and Invest in Odense, both public entities, act as a strong indicator of the company’s agile ecosystem.
Carlsen goes on to highlight the positive steps the Danish government is taking: the Danish Health Minister recently announced the four-year trial period of the government’s medical cannabis pilot programme is to be extended. Carlsen says: “This will allow us to establish a good patient data foundation based on domestically cultivated products.”
Carlsen explains that it is a rigorous yet achievable process for NNE to assist companies in getting a licence: “In many places there is just too much [red] tape and negotiating to navigate, whereas this isn’t the case in Denmark.” Although the programme is still relatively new, it is much more defined compared to other European countries and regions across the globe.
NNE adding value to the industry
So, where does NNE fit into the larger picture within Denmark? And how is the company assisting the industry in its growth period? Carlsen explains how NNE is comprised of around 1,000 individuals, predominantly from an engineering and science background. “We have an operational mindset in anything and everything that we do, and we can see that the industry is lacking pharmaceutical knowledge – this is where we can add a lot of value as we have been assisting the pharma industry for decades.”
Adding value to the developing ecosystem is a recurring ethos which NNE has deeply embraced. Carlsen notes that NNE provides value to the best of its abilities, but that the company cannot always achieve value alone: “It is imperative to understand that if the industry all collaboratively work together, then we all win.”
Welcoming questions such as ‘what is the right fit for the industry?’ and ‘what is the right fit for the patients and customers?’ allows room to factor in the concept of collaboration. Essentially, all parties involved, from government, to industry, to patients, have the same mission; which is to add value. Carlsen explains that it is crucial to not destroy the industry before it begins, emphasising that respecting the notion that all parties involved are building upon a new industry enables the industry to cohesively develop as a whole.
As the cannabis industry continues to grow at a staggering rate, Carlsen expresses the significance of adapting to the emerging market: “We need to disrupt the industry and enable the freedom to operate and invent new methods.” In order to move in this direction, Carlsen adds that NNE’s aim is to not only foster this approach but further bring value alongside a willingness to learn. The overarching mission of NNE is to develop within the industry and ecosystem by cultivating an agile, adaptive mindset; in order not only to ultimately add value to this ecosystem, but also to be receptive to adding value to the company.
“We bring credibility, quality and consistency into the industry,” Carlsen says. “[Aside from] being strategically placed in Denmark, which is a central country in Europe, we also have one office in the United States, and India too, so our operations are spread across the world.”
“Our medical cannabis team within NNE have the freedom to operate around the world for companies in order to eliminate their challenges in establishing efficient cannabis operations. We will be present in the industry, and have the desire to remove roadblocks, gain clarity and ultimately accelerate investments.”
Let’s shine a spotlight on utilising investment opportunities
“I have a strong belief that if we want to grow an industry then we need to work together; it’s a very strong signal to send out to the world.” Carlsen explains NNE’s focus on working cohesively to create a strong industry, rather than as individuals, noting that when public and private companies are combined, the associated opportunities to add value become stronger. “At the moment we are working with Invest in Denmark, Invest in Odense; and we are also collaborating with a broad range of private companies that are related to the industry.
“For a privately backed pharmaceutical engineering company to be working with Invest in Denmark sends a very strong message to the world that everyone can work together and share knowledge instead of competing against one another. We also have universities tapping in, such as The Technical University of Denmark (DTU), not to mention key players in the industry; and hospitals interested in improving patient experience.”
Different players within the Danish industry are eager to collaborate, and NNE aspires to be the catalyst to empower and participate in the ecosystem; Carlsen says “We have to work together; be brave, have an open mindset and collaborate.”
According to Carlsen, institutional hesitancy is one of the biggest challenges, which further highlights the importance of collaboration. It is understandable, Carlsen notes, that investors will be hesitant to support and channel finances into an industry they do not understand; however, NNE has identified the vital objective of addressing the knowledge gap to ensure information is transparent across all parties involved.
The Danish Cannabis Investment Summit
With a strong horticultural heritage, robust pharma sector, combined with progressive and clear legislation for production of medical cannabis, Denmark is perfectly positioned as first mover in Europe. With this in mind, Carlsen presents the Cannabis Investor Summit to be hosted on 28 January 2020 in Odense, Denmark. Odense is home to the successful cluster Odense Robotics: a world renowned tech hub fostered by visionary individuals from both public and private entities. As the leading region in Denmark that accelerates growth and innovation, with a proven track record of offering the structural agility needed for business development, Odense is perfectly placed to inspire the collaborative environment NNE aims to achieve.
Launching the first public-private partnership in the Danish medical cannabis industry, NNE is working with Invest in Denmark and Invest in Odense. With the summit already attracting attention, Carlsen explains that the event “aims to educate and empower the industry by bringing people together.” The programme is designed to promote opportunities to develop public-private partnerships focusing on the cannabis ecosystem. “We will bring in a broad range of investors, both institutional and private, who want to invest in the cannabis industry,” Carlsen adds.
The main objective of the summit is to match investors with government, researchers and companies in order to continue the dialogue and promote the Danish market. Education is key to any emerging industry; and so, the imperative goal of the summit is to educate those involved in the industry, as well as disseminating knowledge to the public.
NNE has declared its mission to bring value to the Danish ecosystem, inspire cohesive collaboration; and adapt to the changing landscape of the medical cannabis industry. In conclusion, Carlsen notes, the collaboration between NNE and the public sector ultimately represents substantial business intelligence, network and knowhow within the pharma industry and the medical cannabis market, bringing the company closer to its ultimate goal of delivering a dynamic ecosystem to the patients in need.
Please note that this article is also featured in the first edition of Medical Cannabis Network Quarterly, which is available to read now. If you haven’t already, feel free to subscribe for updates here.