Novo Nordisk finds diversity in Aalborg

Interview with Malene Højbjerre, Vice President Biostatistics at Novo Nordisk.


Since 2008, the global Danish pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk has had a branch in Aalborg. At NOVI Science Park in the eastern part of Aalborg, Novo Nordisk has located its department for biostatistics.

- The people we have hired are not just concerned with numbers and sheets. They can engage in discussions with doctors and report our findings. They have contact with the relevant authorities, and they work on distributing our results, says Malene Højbjerre, Vice President Biostatistics at Novo Nordisk.

- There is a need for cross-functional collaboration and we have discovered that the candidates from Aalborg University are particularly skilled within this field.

- We have an ambition of increasing diversity and we believe this can be embraced by being present in multiple locations. We find that there is a difference in skills and qualities depending on the location.

- In Aalborg, there is a culture for working in projects and across disciplines while the more classic universities represent a stronger specialization. The mix of the two makes us strong, she says.

Great education was the beginning

When the department was established in Aalborg in 2008, there were only seven people employed. Now there are more than 50 Novo Nordisk statisticians and statistical programmers employed in the region of North Denmark, which also contains a needle factory North of Aalborg.

- Back in 2008, we knew that Aalborg University had a good statistics education, and we had previously done a research collaboration with the university.

- We had a hard time recruiting statisticians in the capital area. In the beginning of the century, there were many new biotech companies popping up and many statisticians were looking for new opportunities, says Malene Højbjerre.


“...Here we have a strong pipeline of talents we can hire afterwards.“

Strengthening the collaboration

After their many years in Aalborg, the bond between Novo Nordisk and Aalborg University remains strong.

- I am on an advisory board at Aalborg University for mathematics and statistics. Here I try to give my input to trends and developments in the market. What is new to us, and what kind of skills do we need?

- It means a lot to us that the universities are listening to the business community, says Malene Højbjerre.

Malene Højbjerre came from a position as an Associate Professor at the university when the department was established in 2008. That is part of the reason why the synergy between the study environment and pharmaceutical company got off to such a great start.

- We have benefited greatly from the study environment ever since. We work closely together with university students through student projects and we have a good access to student assistants. Here we have a strong pipeline of talents we can hire afterwards. So, we keep a tight focus on our collaboration with Aalborg University.



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