That the image of Sweden abroad is positive is nothing new, and currently we are seeing a significant renewed interest for what is happening within Swedish life science. At least, this is what Ola Björkman, CEO of Stockholm-Uppsala Life Science believes. Not only did one of the world’s most respected organizations, The Economist, chose Uppsala for an international conference on how scientific breakthroughs can benefit healthcare and patients, but the international life science media also opened their eyes to developments in Sweden and Stockholm-Uppsala during the course of 2012.
– When we reached out with the news that the Swedish government had confirmed the country’s largest ever investment in life sciences as a key element of the ruling coalition’s autumn budget and research and innovation bill, the response from the international trade media clearly exceeded our expectations, says Björkman.
The announcement became front-page news in several leading journals including Bioworld and BioCentury. The initiative representing further allocation of resources to SciLifeLab, a collaboration between Karolinska Institutet, KTH, Stockholm University and Uppsala University, is described in more detail elsewhere in this publication.
Another piece of news that made a major impact internationally in the autumn of 2012 with exposure in, for example, The New York Times, was a scientific discovery from Uppsala University. Professor Leif Andersson’s group published an article in the prestigious journal Nature describing how a gene mutation which occured a more than 1,000 years ago, determines whether the horse in question can keep trotting at high speed, or instead will have a tendency of falling into a gallop. Furthermore, this discovery has led to the development of a genetic test, also from Uppsala, that can determine if a horse has the talent for trotting or not.
– This is a great example of a fantastic scientific discovery that also can be exploited for practical use,” says Björkman.
– And if we can regularly bring out similar examples of research breakthroughs and innovations, then more and more international decision-makers will become aware of Stockholm-Uppsala as a strong life science region. Several journalist visits last year also underscored the interest from media in research and companies in the region, and we have already seen the results in terms of exposure of the region’s life science activities in leading trade publications.
– We strongly believe that this interest will continue this year, particularly in view of all the events that take place,” concludes Björkman. This year, during “Sweden Life Science Investment year 2013”, several journalist visits are scheduled, most of them in conjunction with the international conferences held in Stockholm, including BioEquity in May, Digital Health Days in August and Nordic Life Science Days in October.