“Together Stockholm-Uppsala and Medicon Valley can make Scandinavia a leading life science region”

“Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland all have national life science strategies, but the Swedish strategy is the only one explicitly emphasizing the Nordic dimension. But what if the leading life science nations, Denmark and Sweden, joined forces, took the lead and pioneered Nordic life science collaboration? Wouldn´t we then be able to "bake a bigger cake?", writes Anette Steenberg and Ulf G. Andersson in a debate article.

Ambitions for Swedish life science are high, and Sweden also aspires to become a leading life science nation. This was made clear in the annual Swedish life science conference “Together for a leading life science nation”, arranged by the Government Offices, the Västra
Götaland region and Health Innovation West.

The conference offered an extensive list of speakers who revealed an already strong collaboration between public authorities, the private sector, academia and, increasingly so, with patient organisations that also strengthen patients’ perspectives.

Some of the focus topics were the increasing competitiveness, the possibilities of attracting international talent and investments and opening the doors, not only to increased national collaboration but also reaching out to the neighbouring Nordic countries.

The four Nordic countries, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, all have national life science strategies, but Sweden is the only country that mentions Nordic collaboration in theirs. Hats off to Sweden for highlighting this crucial aspect!

We truly have something to build on in the Nordics. The Nordic countries top the global innovation list, valuable healthcare data is available, and the life science industry is well-established, especially in Sweden and Denmark. Our internationally highly ranked universities have a long history of academic excellence and public-private partnerships in life sciences.

Furthermore, the Stockholm-Uppsala cluster and the Swedish-Danish cluster Medicon Valley are home to world-class research facilities, a vital mass of life science industry, including a viable ecosystem of start-up life science companies, as well as Science Parks and incubators.

Sweden and Denmark have also adopted ambitious national life science strategies, and in both countries, the life science sector has gained increased focus and status as essential for ensuring the health of our citizens and resuming economic growth.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of a strong life science industry was further emphasised. Interestingly, in 2020, we saw a boom in patents from both Sweden (19% increase from 2019) and Denmark (9% increase from 2019).

Sweden and Denmark, Stockholm-Uppsala and Medicon Valley can together convincingly position the Nordic region as one of the leading life science regions in Europe and thus attract further foreign investment and talent.

This year The Medicon Valley Alliance celebrates its 25th anniversary and can celebrate the fruits of successful collaborations between the public sector, academia and business in southern Sweden and eastern Denmark. The strong Swedish-Danish collaboration across the Oresund with Medicon Valley Alliance’s more than 300 members has contributed to the development of world-leading strong positions in research areas such as fertility, diabetes and the microbiome.

Our philosophy is simple; Medicon Valley Alliance strives to make 1 + 1 = 3 by creating more vital mass and baking a bigger cake for the benefit of the entire Swedish and Danish life science ecosystem. Therefore, we are delighted to find that the cross-border collaboration is mentioned in the Swedish life science strategy. We welcome further collaboration to make the cake bigger in order to strengthen Swedish life science with solid positions and synergies originating in Medicon Valley.

Medicon Valley Alliance wishes to contribute with our strengths; cross-border collaboration in life science, by which we can build on the message from the conference “Together for a leading life science nation” and ensure that the Swedish life science strategy remains a living
document, nationally and internationally.

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