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Sweden will take a stronger position in life science

What is required to promote Sweden’s strengths in life science in order to take a clearer global position? Jenni Nordborg, the government’s coordinator for the life science strategy, has a lot of challenges and opportunities ahead of her.

In 2018, after 10 years at Vinnova (Sweden’s innovation agency), Jenni Nordborg took on the role as coordinator for the Swedish government’s life science issues. The following year, a new national life science strategy was launched, and she got the opportunity to start up an office that reaches across various ministries at the Government Offices. Her assignment is to implement the national strategy in collaboration with the many players within the life science industry. In total, there are 30 clear objectives in fields where the government sees both opportunities and challenges for the Swedish industry. With 40,000 employees and 10 percent worth of Sweden’s export, it is an important task.

– It is clear that there have been major structural changes during the last 20 years, and now there is a need for special efforts to maintain the importance and the value of the sector in our country, she says.

Nordborg believes that the situation became extra acute almost ten years ago when Astra Zeneca down-scaled parts of its Swedish operations at the same time as St Jude Medical – with the pacemaker in its portfolio – left the country.

– This development shed light on the question: either we work hard towards increasing investments in Sweden, or we will fall behind. But it requires a holistic approach. All countries compete for this industry, both in terms of jobs and revenue to the public treasury.

The potential of precision medicine

Jenni Nordborg is convinced that an important way forward is to invest more in precision medicine and individualized treatments for cancer and other illnesses. These are often expensive drugs but if they work as a curative treatment, they can provide enormous societal benefits.

– Sometimes the investment and the profit do not end up in the same place, but we must dare to invest in Sweden. We need to strengthen access to health data and become better at clinical trials.

With a more preventive model of health care, Jenni Nordborg admits that the life science industry is faced with a dilemma: what is our role if we no longer need to treat diseases as often?

– I believe that the life science players need to collaborate with other parties and invest in new business models. Better health and economic growth must go hand in hand.

worth of Sweden’s export

”We need to strengthen access to health data and become better at clinical trials.”