Season 4, Post 37: Looking outwards

For a country with fewer than 6m inhabitants, it is impressive how many world-class and truly global businesses Denmark has produced: from Carlsberg in beer to…

Season 4, Post 37: Looking outwards

For a country with fewer than 6m inhabitants, it is impressive how many world-class and truly global businesses Denmark has produced: from Carlsberg in beer to Maersk in shipping via the wind turbines of Vestas and the diabetes treatments pioneered by Novo Nordisk. “We’re a small country; we’ve always had to look outwards” was one of the explanations provided for Denmark’s success. We recently spent a day on the Jutland Peninsula hearing what several of these businesses had to say about the world.

First up was a meeting with Vestas in their smart modern offices close to Copenhagen Airport. There, we learned that “for Vestas to succeed, the [wind] industry needs to succeed.” When translated, what this means is two things: more efficient planning processes and greater cooperation among the main players in certain areas. Begin with the former and have no doubt, “the appetite [for new projects] is definitely there.” The challenge, however, is to accelerate permitting, particularly in Europe, where there is a current gap of around four years from approval to installation. Visibility looks better in the US, where the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act is “extremely exciting” and could translate into meaningful orders from next year. In terms of cooperation, Vestas highlighted to us that the trend towards “scaling up” outsourcing projects with partners could be beneficial. Were third parties to make certain parts for many of the industry’s main players, then this could increase overall efficiency while, at the same time, reducing volatility.

Later in the day, we travelled 15km north of Copenhagen to Bagsvaerd, home of Novo Nordisk. The company’s campus comprises several streets while its head office is an impressive structure, whose interior is apparently shaped to resemble an insulin molecule. We were reminded that Novo will mark its 100th anniversary next year. Throughout, its purpose has remained unchanged, “making a meaningful difference… by solving chronic disease.” Novo highlighted the large unmet need that remained to treat major problems including diabetes, obesity and other related comorbidities such as cardio-vascular disease. Take the second of these: while 764m people globally live with obesity, just 2% of these currently receive treatment, per Novo. Much of the focus at Novo is on “preparing for the next decade.” When asked to elaborate on this, the company highlighted to us that “we need to raise the bar on innovation to make a difference.” This has led to an acceleration in hiring in the R&D department, an increasing emphasis on partnerships with universities as well as specific in-licensing deals with other healthcare players. Looking forward, a recently announced partnership with Microsoft may also be helpful in bringing big data and artificial intelligence solutions to solving healthcare problems, combining bottom-up analysis with top-down challenges.

Before departing Denmark, there was also time to interact with Carlsberg, or at least review the merits of its beer at the airport.

22 September 2022

 ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Heptagon Capital is an investor in Novo Nordisk and Vestas. The author of this piece has no personal direct investment in the business. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise. ​​​​​​

Alex Gunz, Fund Manager


The document is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice or any recommendation to buy, or sell or otherwise transact in any investments. The document is not intended to be construed as investment research. The contents of this document are based upon sources of information which Heptagon Capital LLP believes to be reliable. However, except to the extent required by applicable law or regulations, no guarantee, warranty or representation (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this document or its contents and, Heptagon Capital LLP, its affiliate companies and its members, officers, employees, agents and advisors do not accept any liability or responsibility in respect of the information or any views expressed herein. Opinions expressed whether in general or in both on the performance of individual investments and in a wider economic context represent the views of the contributor at the time of preparation. Where this document provides forward-looking statements which are based on relevant reports, current opinions, expectations and projections, actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. All opinions and estimates included in the document are subject to change without notice and Heptagon Capital LLP is under no obligation to update or revise information contained in the document. Furthermore, Heptagon Capital LLP disclaims any liability for any loss, damage, costs or expenses (including direct, indirect, special and consequential) howsoever arising which any person may suffer or incur as a result of viewing or utilising any information included in this document. 

The document is protected by copyright. The use of any trademarks and logos displayed in the document without Heptagon Capital LLP's prior written consent is strictly prohibited. Information in the document must not be published or redistributed without Heptagon Capital LLP's prior written consent. 

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