Medicon Valley is well-known as the leading life science cluster in the Nordic region. And in recent years, there’s been a growing sub-sector within that established biotech and medical research community — a strong and active ecosystem of microbiome research. Yet, like the relatively new field itself, not much was known about the microbiome work being done in the region. No one had a full grasp of how widespread it was, who was involved, or what exactly was being researched. Many on the local level didn’t know the area was even home to microbiome research, let alone those in other countries.

Then in 2019, the EU-funded Microbiome Signature Project was launched. Within two years, the region’s microbiome research was extensively mapped (providing a thorough picture of the ecosystem), companies and research talent in the field were actively being drawn from all over the globe to the area, and it was the site for a new international microbiome summit. 

And this was all achieved at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, with its ensuing period of economic decline and uncertainty.

The Microbiome Signature Project is a collaboration between Invest in Skåne, Copenhagen Capacity, and Medicon Valley Alliance. It was expressly created to help position the Greater Copenhagen area (which stretches from eastern Denmark to the southernmost part of Sweden, the geographic region for the Medicon Valley cluster) as a global hub of research in the microbiome field — which consists of any study of microorganisms and the microbial communities that can be found almost anywhere, including inside every human (e.g. the bacteria in the gut). 

A hidden regional treasure    

Not long after the Microbiome Signature Project’s launch, it began researching the region’s researchers — combing through databases and records, conducting 1-on-1 interviews, and running a series of workshops with stakeholders to get feedback on their data. 

By the autumn of 2020, a clear map of the region’s microbiome research ecosystem had emerged and was pivotal in attracting international attention. 

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The mapping has helped to visualise all the microbiome activities that have been ‘hidden’ and spread across various academic, clinical, and industry environments, into one place,” explains Sarah Lidé, Medicon Valley Alliance’s Senior Strategy and Project Manager.


Being able to show the extent of the microbiome activities in the area has helped the Microbiome Signature Project promote the greater Copenhagen region to the international microbiome community. 

The efforts have, so far, successfully convinced several companies to establish offices in the area. Viramal, a British pharmaceutical company specialising in women’s health and reproductive endocrinology, set up a branch in the city of Malmö on the Swedish side of the region. Happybios, a brand of dietary supplements that use probiotic solutions to improve gut microbiota, moved to Copenhagen. And Enbiosis Biotechnology, a company that analyses intestinal microbiomes to create personalised health solutions, also opened an office in Copenhagen. 

My co-founder is Danish, and we have strong connections to Sweden,” says Viramal’s CEO, Oliver Bates. “Accordingly, we decided to focus on the greater Copenhagen area to benefit from both our activities in Sweden and Denmark.”

For Bates, the move has been a key factor in helping Viramal participate in what he describes “as an already existing and vibrant ecosystem”, access to relevant talent and resources, and connect with partners for collaboration. 

Such benefits are also cited by Enbiosis Biotechnology’s Founder and CEO, Ömer Özkan. 

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We have noticed that having a regional office in Denmark gives our company more credibility when we are reaching out to companies in the Nordics to discuss possible cooperation opportunities,” says Özkan. “It also helps tremendously with networking.”


The Microbiome Signature Project has also run various digital campaigns, helping dozens of academic research groups and companies in the region successfully recruit international research talent. An online career portal created by the project has been viewed over 21 million times by members of the international life science and microbiome community, and more than 1,500 international microbiome and life science researchers and specialists have signed up for news about the region’s career opportunities. So far, nearly 60 people have been recruited to the region via this job portal. 

Microbiome article thumbnail newsletterAnd then, there was the Greater Copenhagen Microbiome Summit. The Microbiome Signature Project organised the one-day virtual conference in April of 2021. It showcased the latest scientific trends and insights within the microbiome field, featuring regional stakeholders, and nearly 600 people from more than 60 countries participated, and more than 1,000 people have expressed interest in future events.


What’s next

But the Microbiome Signature Project isn’t done just yet. It’s currently organising an official pre-event for Nordic Life Science Days (the largest partnering conference dedicated to the life science industry in the Nordic region) that will feature several pitches from microbiome research projects and startups. Medicon Valley Microbiome Pitch Day is set to take place on 27 September 2022 at the Malmömässan event centre in Malmö.

The project is also in the early stages of putting together an event for June 2022. It will gather regional stakeholders and decision-makers in Örestad, Denmark, to review a summary of the project’s efforts over the past three years and learn the highlights of what’s next for promoting Medicon Valley as a microbiome hub.

If you’d like to know more about the Microbiome Signature Project and the microbiome research ecosystem in greater Copenhagen, contact Sarah Lidé, Medicon Valley Alliance’s Senior Strategy and Project Manager, at


About Medicon Valley

The strongest life science cluster in the Nordic region, Medicon Valley is based in the Greater Copenhagen metropolitan area, which stretches across eastern Denmark and the southernmost part of Sweden. It’s home to a vibrant life science community and talent pool, which span from world-class universities to private research groups. The region’s long ties to the biotech and medical research fields, combined with Sweden and Denmark’s renowned high quality of life, make it an attractive location for companies and individuals that work in the related industries. There are more than 350 biotech, medtech, and pharma companies, with nearly 45,000 total people and more than 14,000 university researchers working in life science.

About the Microbiome Signature Project

The Microbiome Signature Project is a three-year project (2019-2022), financed by the EU, and jointly led by Copenhagen CapacityInvest in Skåne, and Medicon Valley Alliance. It aims to position the greater Copenhagen area as a global hub for research and potential commercialisation in the microbiome field of science, as well as promote collaboration that crosses borders and disciplines. It also works to foster private investments in research and innovation, establish international research facilities, and attract talent to publicly and privately funded research projects.