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Life sciences takes off in Sweden

The Swedish government has stated that the life sciences sector will play a significant role for the national economic growth. With its extensive national databank network and an updated digitized archive of medical records, Sweden, with one of the highest per capita spending on life science in Europe, is building a legacy of clinical trials and store it into its biobanks and registers.

With AstraZeneca Sweden CEO Jan-Olof Jacke

“What we’ve seen in the last few years is the super convergence of sectors and a lot of IT companies going into life science – not just into life science materials but also into pharmaceuticals,” said Jenni Nordborg, director and head of the health division at government-run innovation agency Vinnova.

Sweden has seen its average life expectancy increase to 83.7 years for women and 80.1 years for men as a result to a decline in deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

“We are very early on in the ageing society development and all the ecological side of the talent that we have,” Nordborg said.

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, which runs one of Europe’s largest research facilities in Gothenburg, plans to make its scientific center in Mölndal the leading such hub in the continent with scientists from more than 50 nations.

“We want to continue to attract the best talent in the world and in particular to our R&D sector. We need to make an offering that’s ever becoming more attractive,” said

Swedish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (LIF) General Director Anders Blanck

AstraZeneca Sweden President Jan-Olof Jacke.

Meanwhile, Swedish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (LIF) General Director Anders Blanck believes Sweden is seeing positive trends in the industry as the government identified three fundamental growth sectors: life science, green technology and digitalization.

“You have to invite investments and in order to keep the small companies active you have to help them grow. Sweden will be on the radar for a lot of major companies both on the pharma sector and the medtech companies,” Blank said.

With 85 members and associate companies, LIF accounts for 80 percent of the total sales in the country.

Celebrating its 10th year in Europe, biopharmaceutical company Celgene has registered already three drugs for the treatment of hematological cancers myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome. 

Reinvesting one-third of its revenue in research and development every year, Celgene is confident it can keep up with the fast-changing developments in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

“The world is changing and what you see in Europe is more and more pressure on budgets and how to spend money wisely,” General Manager Nordics Nicolas Verbeke pointed out.

With Novartis Country Head for Sweden Niklas Karlberg

Verbeke also highlighted the importance of having a strong digital structure, which is seen in the different spinoffs from the current generation of pharmaceuticals.

Swiss-owned giant Novartis has had more than 50 years of experience in Sweden in developing innovative pharmaceuticals. As it continues to look for ways to innovate their business model, the company is closely studying the concept of value-based healthcare and how best it can integrate and contribute to such a system.

“The Swedish system encourages innovation that makes a difference. It helps to be supported by the society. Innovation isn’t anything until it’s implemented,” said Country Head Niklas Karlberg.

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Sweden 2016 was prepared for and originally printed in Forbes Asia magazine.

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