Some of the key stakeholders in Swedish healthcare and life sciences outline why they feel Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, is a rising star in life sciences innovation.


The Stockholm region is one of the most innovative life sciences hubs in the world

Irene Svenonius, Region Stockholm

Stockholm, a city built on 14 islands and connected by 57 bridges, has a rich scientific history, serving as the selected venue for the Nobel Prize awards in chemistry, medicine and physics since 1901. Investment Stockholm, a subsidiary of Stockholm Business Region, now boldly calls the city “the most creative life science hub in Europe.” The life sciences sector has experienced tremendous growth, with 15-20 new companies formed in the region per year during the last decade.


Region Stockholm Assembly, the highest decision-making body at the regional level, is responsible for all publicly funded healthcare in the Stockholm region. Its chairman Irene Svenonius recently explained to PharmaBoardroom that “the Stockholm region is one of the most innovative life sciences hubs in the world with the ICT cluster in Kista comparable to Silicon Valley, where a lot of medtech and digital health solutions are developed, the Stockholm Science City in Hagastaden, and the cluster in Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge.” Svenonius notes that a key part of the puzzle to integrate healthcare and research is BioClinicum, Europe’s most modern translational research facility, comprising 195 research laboratories where 900 researchers from different specializations work together to implement the outcomes of medical research faster in healthcare.


Region Stockholm has a clearly stated ambition: “Our aim is to increase the number of clinical trials by 50 percent by 2022. The objective is two-fold. First, our patients will be able to receive better treatments. Second, we want the life sciences industry to blossom as it is a major contributor to the Stockholm region’s economy. We wish to see more start-ups being created and for existing ones to grow larger and become global companies.” 


Björn Zoëga, director of Karolinska University Hospital, believes achieving this goal in increasing clinical trials is attainable because “the Stockholm region has unique assets for clinical trials such as great traceability of patients compared to other countries. Moreover, the Swedish population understands the value of taking part in studies. Another advantage is the closeness between the patient population, research institutes, hospitals and companies.”


Karolinska Institutet (KI) is another of Stockholm’s cutting-edge facilities, a centre of excellence for medical research and education in Sweden and the world. Its president Ole Petter Ottersen expanded on the centre’s strategy, which is to act as a driving force for the creation of a dynamic life science cluster, both on its campus in Solna and its southern campus Flemingsberg. In an interview, Ottersen expressed that “the Stockholm region has great ambitions regarding life sciences which are commensurate with our own ambitions. Region Stockholm’s stated goal is to make Stockholm one of the five most prestigious and successful life sciences clusters in the world by 2023. KI has a crucial role to play in turning this ambition into reality.”