Pioneering Collaboration to Bolster the Nordic Health Industry

AstraZeneca, Oslo Cancer Cluster, and Oslo Science City have entered into a collaborative agreement aimed at enhancing the Nordic health industry. The initiative seeks to foster closer cooperation among researchers, startups, and pharmaceutical companies.

The ambitions for building a strong Norwegian health industry gained momentum after the Minister of Trade and Industry, Jan Christian Vestre, announced a forthcoming roadmap at the Norway Life Science conference in February 2023. By June, the health sector was designated as a national export promotion initiative. In August, a comprehensive roadmap containing 41 measures across 12 focus areas was unveiled, targeting sectors involved in developing pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and digital health tools.

Ahead of this year’s Norway Life Science conference, a strategic agreement was formed between the Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, Oslo Cancer Cluster, and the innovation district Oslo Science City. The partnership aims to enhance collaboration between Norwegian and Swedish research and innovation environments. The agreement gives selected Norwegian startups access to AstraZeneca's innovation hub BioVentureHub in Gothenburg, while Swedish firms can engage with Oslo Cancer Cluster and work closely with its specialized environments in cancer and precision medicine. The collaboration also extends to the research teams from The Norwegian Radium Hospital and the University of Oslo, located in Oslo Science City.

"AstraZeneca is committed to supporting the success of new startups and fortifying the Nordic health industry. We're excited to engage in this collaboration, which promises mutual benefits and will help bolster the Nordic area as a leading region in health and life sciences," states Guro Bjøntegaard, Country Director of AstraZeneca Norway.

Industry Expertise and Global Connections

Founded in 2014, BioVentureHub provides a dynamic, open innovation ecosystem where emerging life science companies and research groups gain access to AstraZeneca's expertise and cutting-edge research facilities.

"Maintaining close ties with forward-thinking companies and academic groups is vital. While some may form official partnerships with AstraZeneca, the fundamental goal of BioVentureHub is to cultivate a space dedicated to creativity and innovation," adds Bjøntegaard.

Oslo Cancer Cluster will play a key role in selecting Norwegian companies for BioVentureHub residencies. CEO Ketil Widerberg emphasizes the critical need for international exposure and industry know-how for Norwegian startups:

"Global collaboration is key to scaling Norwegian startups. BioVentureHub offers a gateway to international networks, conveniently located just a short train ride from Oslo—an efficient solution for fostering growth."

Boosting the Nordic Region

The collaboration also proposes involving Innovation Norway, enabling Norwegian companies at BioVentureHub to seek financial support. The long-term goal includes bringing in Vinnova, the Swedish innovation agency, into this collaborative effort.

"Health technology represents a significant export sector for Norway. Innovation Norway supports broad Nordic collaborations that bridge the gap between business, startups, and academia, aiming to elevate the entire Nordic region," says Håkon Haugli, CEO of Innovation Norway.

Christine Wergeland Sørbye, CEO of Oslo Science City, notes that while Norway has significantly invested in health research, it has lagged behind in translating research into new ventures.

"There's immense potential for economic development that can generate jobs and benefit patients with innovative treatments. By fostering cross-Nordic collaboration between the research and business sectors, we aim to unlock this potential," concludes Wergeland Sørbye.