Sweden is considered one of the world’s most prominent research nations, and has historically been a country of life science innovation. Swedish innovations such as the pacemaker, stereotactic radiosurgery and omeprazole have made an impact on the health and quality of life of millions of people. Thus, Sweden possesses considerable expertise in all segments of the life science industry, i.e. pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical technology and health-oriented information and communication technology (ICT). Indeed, the life science industry is one of Sweden’s most important sectors with a high level of exports, as well as gross value added.
Life science innovation is key to the development of better and more cost-efficient health and elderly care. Sweden has long focused on investment in frontline medical research and innovation, while simultaneously giving all citizens affordable access to high-quality healthcare. Several factors deserve credit in making Sweden life sciences story so successful.
In general, Sweden is one of the countries in the world that invests most in R&D per capita. Sweden also has a comparatively large proportion of researchers in relation to the total population. Swedish universities are at the forefront of medical research.
Another main factor for Sweden’s success as a life sciences nation is collaboration. There is a strong drive for and a long tradition of successful collaboration among healthcare providers, researchers, business interests and academia.
Sweden has also made significant investments in biomedical infrastructure over the last decade. Some examples are the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab), national quality registries, as well as a national biobank infrastructure. Infrastructure for clinical studies allow healthcare, researchers and the business community to work together for the patient’s best interests, driving innovation forward. National specialist research centres, science parks and hubs, start-up companies and large corporations also support this.
The Swedish government provides various means to transform science and innovative ideas into innovation and economic growth. Some examples are innovation offices, holding companies, incubators, and science parks, as well as innovation-promoting programmes from the Swedish innovation agency, Vinnova.
Another feature that benefits the life sciences is the system of national personal registration, where all Swedes have a unique personal identification number which is used for contacts with authorities and for all healthcare documentation. There are different registries that act as knowledge hubs. They make it possible for the government to follow, analyse and report on health and social conditions while researchers gain access to huge amounts of data.