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Accelerating life science innovation through Nordic collaboration

  • Published 07/02/2014
In a time where innovative solutions within health and welfare grow increasingly more important, there is much potential for cross-border life science innovation in the Nordics.

 

– There is a strong tradition for life science research and industry in all of the Nordic countries. If we can combine this with a strong Nordic innovation ecosystem, we will be in a good position to hatch ideas for successful startups and help them gain fast access to international markets.

 

The words belong to CEO Örjan Norberg of Lund Life Science Incubator – one of the collaborators on the Accelerace Life project that has received funding through the Nordic High Growth Entrepreneurship Initiative by Nordic Innovation.

 

– We have a few big companies within the life science sector in Sweden that sit on a lot of competence. People with excellent qualifications have come through those companies and started new and interesting ones, and I think this is also the case in the other Nordic countries, he adds.

 

Focus area

In a time where we live longer than ever, the demand for good health and welfare solutions will only continue to increase. This is a global issue, which means that there is a global market to reach for innovative Nordic companies within the health and life science sector.

 

– Life science are important for meeting the future societal challenges, and political parties, at least here in Sweden, emphasises the need for innovation on this area, Norberg says.

 

Health and welfare is a focus area in the Nordic region through the new lighthouse project Innovative Nordic Welfare Solutions in the Nordic Cooperation Programme for Innovation and Business Policy that will run in the period 2014-2017.

 

Örjan Norberg thinks there is an excellent foundation for life science innovation in the Nordic countries, but also recognises some obstacles on the path to international markets for life science entrepreneurs and startups.

Örjan Norberg

Size matters

– One of the biggest problems is that seed funding is too small. Perhaps we can learn from the US where they often pump in large amounts of money in an early stage, but also know early on if a company is viable or not. In Sweden, you often get a smaller amount of money now and then, which may prolong the life of companies that should have been shut down earlier, says Norberg.

 

He believes pan-Nordic collaboration is key to reaching international markets, citing the small size of the home markets in the Nordic countries as an issue. He points out that there are many excellent life science researchers and developers in the Nordic countries, but not necessarily in the same place.

 

– If we can gather the best people from all the Nordic countries in one project, we will make it much more interesting for investors to provide the money needed for success.

 

As a collaborator on the Accelerace Life project, Lund Life Science Incubator has already proved the will to work with joint Nordic entrepreneurs and startups, but Norberg doesn't think their position is unique.

 

– I believe there is a common understanding among Nordic actors in this field that we are too small on our own to make an impact. Hopefully, this will bring success to the Accelerace Life project as well as to other pan-Nordic projects and startups.

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Project participants

Denmark: Accelerace Management A/S, COBIS A/S

 

Sweden: Stockholm Innovation & Growth, Karolinska Institutet, Innovations AB, Lund Life Science Incubator

 

Finland: Turku Science Park

 

Norway: Kjeller Innovasjon