Help us transform into the circular economy

Novo Nordisk’s aim is to have zero environmental impact. To get there, we are transitioning our business from a linear mind-set of ‘take-make-dispose’ to a circular mind-set that keeps our products and materials in use. Achieving this has its challenges, but we are asking ourselves "How can we do more?", particularly with the design and disposal of our products.

We believe the answers will come, and we want to work with innovators to find new ways to advance our business of health, while keeping the health of our environment at the forefront. And that is why we are introducing the Novo Nordisk Innovation Challenge 2019-2020, with a specific focus on two components of our ambition:

Circular Design

How might we design products, packaging and processes for circularity

Goal: Make Novo Nordisk’s injection devices fit for circularity


How might we innovate patient-centric take-back solutions for injection pens

Goal: Enable the reuse and recycling of Novo Nordisk’s injection devices

October 14, 2019-December 13, 2019

Benefits include

  • Opportunity to pilot an initiative with Novo Nordisk
  • Collaboration opportunities with Novo Nordisk
  • Mentoring by subject matter experts from Novo Nordisk, Green Innovation Group, and MATTER
  • €25,000 cash award


Applications are accepted 12am CEST October 14, 2019 through 11:59pm CET December 13, 2019. We will evaluate submissions on a rolling basis.

What types of solutions are we seeking?
Products, processes, technologies and packaging solutions that will improve the circularity, reusability or recyclability of Novo Nordisk products.
Who should apply?
This challenge is aimed at mature startups with a proven solution and teams from across the innovation ecosystem — from existing startups, university researchers and spinoffs, incubators or accelerators, as well as other industry innovators.

Our Focus

As a leader in diabetes care, Novo Nordisk can show the way and set new standards in the healthcare industry. Our ambition is bold: zero environmental impact.

We intend to get there by adopting a circular mindset – designing products that can be recycled or re-used, reshaping our business practice to minimise consumption and eliminate waste, and working with suppliers who share our ambition.

Our strategy to reach is called Circular for Zero. Learn more about our corporate commitment to the environment: Novo Nordisk Circularity for Zero

The Challenge

We aim to explore, design and co-develop sustainable approaches to our business practices, which could bring life to the key innovations of tomorrow, allowing Novo Nordisk to spearhead the movement towards sustainable healthcare.

We invite innovators to participate in the 2019-2020 Novo Nordisk Innovation Challenge. We seek three to five green health tech startups to successfully enter a collaborative effort with Novo Nordisk. There are two tracks we are interested in investigating, 1) Circular Design and 2) Recycle. Read more about them below.

Circular Design

Circularity is measured on three indicators

Carbon footprint
A carbon footprint is a measure of the environmental impact across the full lifecycle product.
Sustainable materials
A sustainable material is derived from either renewable or recycled content.
Recyclability is a measure of how much material can be retrieved in clean material fractions at product-end of life.

Additionally, there are four levers that cross each effort:

Design for expected lifetime
Optimise the design to have the lowest impact during intended lifetime
Design for sustainable materials
Choose renewable, recycled and low impact materials
Design for no waste in production
Avoid scrap and design out waste
Design for recycling after use
Design products that are ready for recycling into new productss


Today, the majority of our pens end up in landfills once they have been used. To limit plastic ending up in nature, we are exploring take-back solutions that will ensure that our products are reused or recycled. By developing a circular system we are working towards minimising consumption of natural resources.

End-of-life for pharmaceutical devices

The challenges of doing take-back programmesfor medical devices

How do we provide patient-centric solutions that are easy to use?
How do we set up an ecosystem for collection and logistics?
How do we handle bio-hazardous materials and needles in a waste stream?

Our Circular Design Principles

To learn more about the Novo Nordisk approach and where your solution may best fit, click below to download the circularity design mini-guide.


What Can You Gain From Partnering With Us?

  • Potentially pilot an initiative with Novo Nordisk
  • Elevate your brand awareness through the Novo Nordisk network
  • Collaborate with relevant senior-level Novo Nordisk experts and discover opportunities to pilot your solution
  • Develop long-lasting mentoring relationships with leaders and subject matter experts at Novo Nordisk
  • Collaborate with global innovation hubs representing cutting edge innovations in the healthcare and sustainability fields
  • The winning finalist will earn a monetary award of €25,000 to further develop their solution


In case of any discrepancy between the information displayed on this webpage and the Novo Nordisk Innovation Challenge 2019-2020 Terms & Conditions, the Novo Nordisk Innovation Challenge 2019-2020 Terms & Conditions will prevail.

  • Novo Nordisk
  • Green Innovation


Oct 14 – Dec 13, 2019

Apply with a high level description of your proposed solution.

Dec 9 – Dec 20, 2019

10-15 teams will be selected to participate in a Virtual Selection Event.

Jan 14, 2019

The 10-15 Semi-Finalist teams will present their concepts in a virtual short pitch around their sustainability solution to Novo Nordisk executives.

Three to five teams will be selected as Finalists to advance to the accelerator portion of the program to further co-develop their solution with Novo Nordisk and compete for a €25,000 cash prize.

Jan 27 – June 10, 2020

The three to five Finalist teams will develop and refine their concepts in a 12-week, semi-virtual accelerator where they will build and test their innovation with Novo Nordisk mentors, MATTER and Green Innovation Group staff and stakeholders from across the healthcare and sustainability community.

The accelerator will kick off with onsite activities in Copenhagen, Denmark in the week of January 27th 2020.

June 10, 2020

The three to five Finalist teams will present to a community of Novo Nordisk executives and community of innovators in Copenhagen, Denmark. They will have the opportunity to gain greater exposure to Novo Nordisk business units and executives, as well as external investors and partners that could help drive additional co-development opportunities. The top solution presented at this event will receive €25,000.


Accelerating innovation to meet our bold ambition of zero environmental impact by 2030