Sön 4 dec / År 40 / Nr 4 2022

Life Science 2021

The task of developing the healthcare systems, technology and treatments of the future requires a much sharper focus on facilitating collaboration across borders. Not only geographical – but across disciplines as well. Gothenburg has a strong and growing Life Science cluster which deserves to be highlighted from a national point of view.

Meet the Bio Convergence company

BICO (BIo COnvergence) will lead the way into the future of a much more efficient and safer healthcare. Operating in the convergence of life science and technology, BICO brings about the Bio Convergence revolution, which in turn will pave the way for more lives saved through faster drug discovery and better patient-tailored treatments.

Artur Aira, Business Area Manager for Bioprinting at BICO.

BICO is the Bio Convergence company. BICO is the new name of the transformed company previously known as CELLINK Life Sciences. Cellink Bioprinting is retained as one of the daughter companies, leading in 3D bioprinting.

“The reason why we operate as we do is that we at Bico want to retain the acquired companies’ culture, success stories and not least their in-house competence We preserve the best in each company while at the same time being able to integrate new companies under BICO”, explains Artur Aira, Business Area Director for Bioprinting at BICO.

Artur Aira knows the structure and organisation of BICO very well after several years as Board member. As from beginning 2021, he carries the operative role as Business Area Director for one of the company’s three business areas – Bioprinting. This is also at the very core of Cellink and the company’s history. Other business areas include Biosciences and BioAutomation.

Bioprinting provides endless possibilities

Bioprinting is to date represented by 5 of BICO’s 12 companies. One of its core technologies is largely based on the same principles as for industrial additive manufacturing of metal or plastic structures, also called 3D printing. Bioprinting builds complex organic structures (such as organs or tissue) with the help of special bioinks, which Cellink was among the first in the world to develop.

“It is right there in the company name, Cell and Ink, and this is also why we retain the brand Cellink within BICO. Using these inks, we can create human tissue and even organs, using cells from patients’ own bodies. Imagine the endless possibilities this approach provides; we can become our own organ and tissue donors, and we solve the global problem with lack of donors as well”, says Artur Aira.

Bioprinting can also be used for more accurate trials of drug candidates using human matrices instead of animal models. As it is possible to print new tissue and create new human cells for trials, the need for animal trials will be eliminated. As Aira expressed; the possibilities are almost endless.

Fast growth and its challenges

BICO is the Nordic region’s fastest growing company in its niche. To date, the Group has approximately 1,000 employees distributed among the 13 companies. The growth strategy is crystal clear; to continue acquiring forward-thinking companies in bioprinting, bioscience and bioautomation with the vision to create the Future of Health.

“One of the biggest challenges we anticipate regarding BICO’s continued growth in Sweden and in Gothenburg is the difficulty of acquiring skills. Thus, it is most important that politicians continue to prioritise the LifeScience industry, which is an engine for Gothenburg and Sweden’s continued growth at large”, says Artur Aira.

Cellink Bioprinting is about to relocate to newly built premises in Mölndal, a few minutes from Gothenburg city centre.

“BICO is the leading company in the world when it comes to Bio Convergence. We have our origins in Gothenburg. We want to continue to grow and remain strong in the Gothenburg region. We have very good conditions and prerequisites in Gothenburg as a Nordic centre/cluster for LifeScience and lead the development of the healthcare of the future”, concludes Artur Aira.