Lör 2 dec / År 41 / Nr 5 2023

Stockholm, Malmo and Copenhagen and two important lessons

Danish-Swedish life science collaboration in Medicon Valley dates back more than 20 years. Together, we have successfully built a life science cluster second to none in the Nordics. The recipe, consisting of top academic R&D and good framework conditions for innovation in Skåne and an export driven pharmaceutical industry in and around Copenhagen supported by public sector collaboration and R&D at for instance The Technical University of Denmark and University of Copenhagen, has proven its worth.

The race to attract the European Medicines Agency (EMA) after Brexit, divided Stockholm and Copenhagen for more than a year, with both cities competing intensively to be the new host city. The fact that Copenhagen made it to the top-3 candidates testifies, however, to the value of strengthened regional life science collaboration. Copenhagen probably wouldn´t have made it that far without the Medicon Valley perspective, and it would have been outright unthinkable 20 years ago! Although neither capital won, the EMA will move to Amsterdam, hopefully national and regional decisions-makers involved in drafting and executive the national Swedish and Danish life science strategies both Copenhagen, Malmo and Stockholm have gained some important insights and learned at least two important lessons.
The first lesson learned from 2017 is that the life science cluster, Medicon Valley, is highly competitive seen from an international point of view! This has also been documented in the recently published “State of Medicon Valley 2017 analysis”, but as part of the EMA campaign, these strengths have also been communicated effectively regionally, nationally and internationally.
The second lesson is that we are stronger together! We will never know if a joint Danish-Swedish candidacy would have fared better, and there is no need to speculate too much about it now. But hopefully, the process itself has provided the two national and the two regional governments with the foresight to strengthen collaboration in the future. If so, this could be a new beginning for Medicon Valley and serve as a stepping stone to the realization of the vision of Medicon Valley as not only the leading life science cluster in the Nordics, but also the leading life science cluster of Northern Europe as such.