Dr Mathias Uhlén was one of the participants in the debate. Photo: Earthy Photography

Dr Mathias Uhlén was one of the participants in the debate. Photo: Earthy Photography

A Life Science Perspective

The pharmaceutical industry is one of Sweden’s largest export industries. It is a sector that plays an important role both to the British and the Swedish economy. In addition it is a business with great competition. It was against this background that the Swedish Embassy and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce recently co-hosted a seminar on “Sustaining success through open innovation”.
The purpose of the seminar was to offer a unique opportunity to learn how this Swedish industry and specifically Astra Zeneca has managed to sustain its success through open innovation approaches.

AstraZeneca employs 6700 people in the UK and 5900 people in Sweden. The company has remained a Swedish-British multinational and is currently establishing new, innovative research centers in both countries. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Biomedical campus in Cambridge where Astra Zeneca will establish a new R&D centre. Biohubs like those that AstraZeneca has established in Mölndal in the West of Sweden and in Cambridge here in the UK, are great examples of the close links between innovation and research and how they come together in practice.

Dr Mathias Uhlén, Professor of Microbiology, Royal Institute of technology KTH gave the keynote speech and then folllowed a panel debate with representatives from the Bioindustry Association and Sahlgrenska Academy and Vinnova. The panel was moderated by Andrew Ward, Pharmaceutical correspondent at the Financial Times.

Sweden invests around 3.4% of GDP in research and development, high above the EU average and has a strong history of globally recognised medical research. Swedish research is based on long-term commitment and close cooperation between basic and commercial research. Sweden and the United Kingdom both topped the Global Innovation Index this year. The importance of individuals as well as teams, were identified as the main drive for successful innovation.

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