Employing more than 3,000 people, the life sciences form a significant sector in Umeå actively supported by the municipality.
Approximately 121,000 people live in Umeå. The number of inhabitants is increasing by more than a thousand per year, which makes it one of the fastest growing cities in Sweden. It’s both an administrative and technological center with one of the world’s most extensive broadband access networks. With 18 one-hour daily flights to and from Stockholm, as well as regular train service, domestic and international connections are excellent.
Employing more than 3,000 people, the life sciences form a significant sector in Umeå and is one of three core business sectors that the municipality has chosen to prioritise. The others being Infotech and Cleantech.
The Umeå life science cluster initiative started to take form in 2002-2004, and since 2005 the municipality is actively supporting the sector.
”Our efforts in life science are channeled through Biotech Umeå and Umeå Biotech Incubator, which we support both financially and by representation in the Steering Committee of Biotech Umeå,” says Håkan Johansson, Assistant Director, Business Services Unit of Umeå Municipality.
He points out the close collaboration between scientists at Umeå University and clinicians at the University Hospital of Umeå as a great advantage of Umeå. And to a large extent, the cluster efforts aim to facilitate successful commercialisation of promising discoveries and innovative ideas often sprung from these and other science centres in the region.
Joint Marketing Efforts
The Umeå Biotech Incubator provides entrepreneurs with the right environment, including lab facilities, and expert advice to help their commercial ideas become successful. The incubator is part of Uminova Innovation that helps people test and develop their business ideas and build growing companies.
”With our innovation system, entrepreneurs have access to business coaches, a network of senior competence and support in finding suitable facilities and funding. We can also guide companies through the process of obtaining any necessary permits etc.,” says Håkan Johansson.
Through the joint marketing and PR efforts of Biotech Umeå it’s possible to present one’s company at international trade fairs and local lunch seminars and pitch for funding at investment days in Stockholm.
The municipality also owns BIC Factory, an incubator supporting young and promising entrepreneurs who want to start their own business in Umeå.
”Now it sounds like we only work with start-ups, but we of course also support established companies in many ways,” Håkan Johansson clarifies.
Lastly, he emphasises the high quality of life that Umeå offers.
“The city is big enough to offer a rich variety of shopping and service, as well as many restaurants, cultural venues and other places for recreation, yet small enough to keep everything within convenient reach,” he concludes.