Tor 23 maj / År 42 / Nr 1 2024

I want to attract research talents from all across the world

The development in the Oresund region is proceeding at breathtaking speed. Gigantic research facilities such as the ESS and MAX IV are under full construction and will be implemented in the foreseeable future. As a natural consequence, the scientific spotlight is now directed at us here in the northern region, while at the same time thousands of talented researchers are exploring new opportunities to come here. The conditions must be right to support this.

As the new Chairman of the Medicon Valley Alliance organisation (MVA), with 270 paying member companies and with the scientific, medical and technical research at universities in both Skåne and Copenhagen at hand as well as a strong life science industry, I am of course very aware of what a fantastic boost ESS and MAX IV will bring. For both Skåne and Zealand as an integrated research region. And for us, together!

MVA was founded in 1997, some years before the Oresund Bridge was built, and we will of course continue to be at the forefront, shifting boundaries and never settling for yesterday’s solutions. This applies to biotechnology, pharmaceutical development, medical technology and healthcare at large.

The concept of life science that is part of the core sustenance of MVA gets constantly redefined as researchers conquer new ground. A little simplified, life science translates to the need for pharmaceutical drugs and medical technology. But it can also be expressed as the research that helps humans to gain better health and wellness.

Ten years ago, there were about 100 companies in the life science industry in Skåne and Zealand. Today, the number exceeds 300, and the industry employs approximately 44,000 people. In fact, 92 percent of all Danish life science companies are established in the region, while the figure on the Swedish side is around 20 percent.

MVA is one of approximately 300 life science clusters scattered across the globe. Our mission is to attract the world’s prime research talents and help to provide the very best way to manage and develop the most exciting discoveries and the most innovative companies in the region.

We have many ways of making ourselves known to the world. One is through our research ambassadors posted both in Japan and along the east and west coasts of USA, regions whose universities are ranked among the world’s top 20. Including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and the University of Tokyo. Via our ambassadors we are making contact with universities and attracting researchers and projects to our own region.

We also get many visits by foreign delegations, including ministers from Japan, who want to satisfy their curiosity and also assist in forming cooperation agreements, such as the one we now have with the US State of Massachusetts. On the home front, we are working actively to bring stakeholders from both Sweden and Denmark in specific research areas where we, through collaboration between academia and industry, can take advantage of each organisation’s strengths to create world-leading environments.

It is clear that we cannot lean back and relax, we must take advantage of what is being created in the region and become even better when it comes to spreading awareness internationally as competition between the world’s research clusters is tougher than ever.
It is necessary, of course, that we have access to several keys to success. One of the most important is the commitment and support of our politicians. To design and develop a transnational political strategy on both sides of the strait and a common vision of the Oresund collaboration, so that Medicon Valley can continue to be part of the world’s top life science clusters, is something that I regard as central.

The support and acknowledgment from the political realm is best developed by The Embassy of the Oresund Region (Öresundkomiteen) in Sweden and Denmark. Moreover, the support has already been conveyed in the Oresund strategy report from May 2010, which clearly states that the Medicon Valley cluster is one of the best examples of extensive and successful work in the region between industry, universities and university hospitals in life science.

It is necessary for MVA not only to look at the academic and private sectors, but also to consciously work for the support of the political stakeholders in order to focus efforts to the areas of life sciences, where the Oresund collaboration has the greatest opportunities.

For a Danish and Swedish point of view it is important that the MVA marketing opportunities are not used solely for national interests. If so, the result will be counterproductive and limited. The strength lies in supporting each other, and to benefit from each other’s strengths. Seeing the big picture! MVA is no shimmering billboard, but a purposeful organisation working with affluence and power where the purpose of the whole is the guiding light.

The overall goal for me as new Chairman is to further develop the Danish-Swedish cooperation in the Oresund region, which is a cornerstone of the continued international marketing that takes place in an increasingly tough global arena.

One area where the Oresund collaboration has been very successful in recent years is linked to the efforts to beat infertility. MVA has taken on a coordinating role in the continued work and under ReproUnion ten regional, academic and private actors are gathered in order to take another important step towards becoming a world leader in this field during 2015.

Another project, KADABRA, is an effort to identify and organise data sources and registers of patients with breast cancer. This may help to prevent disease and to find more effective drugs in the future.

The future is wide open and it looks positive for MVA, the only remaining collaborative organisation across the Oresund region focusing on life science. We started in 1997 and we are continuing to grow by tying more and more talent to our region.

All this is in my vision for success; continued high-class research and better health for all.
Now there is a positive challenge that motivates me.

Eva Östling
Chairman of the Board
Medicon Valley Alliance