Advanced Therapeutics Manufacturing and Life Science in the Stockholm region

Written by: Ingela Loell

Sweden has a strong legacy of being at the forefront of life science R&D, including the manufacture of small molecules and advanced protein-based therapeutics. Advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) are predicted to become important cornerstones in the individualised care of tomorrow and the Government has made major investments for Sweden to take the lead in the transition to precision medicine, by supporting an efficient process for implementing new advanced therapies.

A life science office, commissioned by the government has presented a national strategy covering health, care, research, export and investment in life science. The strategy coordinates all stakeholders from idea to implementation.

As presented in a recent report from Invest Stockholm, the Stockholm Uppsala region is home to global pharmaceutical companies and an ever-increasing number of start-ups specialising in disruptive commercial innovation in life science.  With a sector that has grown by 66% over the past four years, Stockholm is becoming a leading international hub for companies wishing to establish and expand their advanced therapeutics manufacturing facilities.

Björn Carlsson, principal consultant at NDA comments on the report:

“I would say that Sweden got off to a slow start regarding advanced therapies compared to other European countries. Ten years ago, there were only a modest number of centralised applications from Swedish developers in all types of application procedures. The data presented in this report show that Sweden has moved forward which is very exciting”.

The production cost of pharmaceuticals is unlikely to be low as quality standards are very high, and when it comes to the cost-base Sweden is competitive. In Stockholm in particular, there is a strong culture of innovation and collaboration and it is easy to find qualified personnel. Manufacturing of difficult to produce proteins has been one of the strengths of Sweden historically. However, it is exceptionally difficult to make gene therapies scalable. Now, one major focus is to address this bottleneck and reduce the proportion of molecules failing at a late stage.

“I am looking forward to seeing more new products, both being manufactured and entering clinical trials, in Sweden. The current lack thereof is not a result of a shortage of innovative products or difficulties in establishing manufacturing sites, but rather a relapse in the incentive from healthcare where physicians and specialist nurses are not encouraged to focus on clinical research. The opportunities for doing clinical trials in Sweden have reduced and I think this needs to be addressed sooner rather than later” Björn says. “The investments done by the Swedish Government could reassure that new products developed and tested in Sweden becomes implemented in the national health care system”.

Sweden has the necessary prerequisites for succeeding in Life Science: world-class research and research infrastructure, a health care system of high international standard and competitive industry. All of this, along with innovation and entrepreneurship, explain why Stockholm is known as the ‘Unicorn Factory’, the report concludes.

Invest Stockholm is the official investment promotion agency of Stockholm. This report has been created for life science companies looking to establish and expand manufacturing operations in the region and presents an overview as well as detailed statistics of the Life Science sector in the greater Stockholm area.