The Stockholm Life Tech project achieved its goal in the spring with a guide that makes it easier for more small and medium-sized companies to collaborate with the region’s research infrastructures. The guide has been billed as an important tool for strengthening life science entrepreneurship in the region.
Stockholm Life Tech was initiated as part of Region Stockholm’s vision to become one of the world’s top five life science regions. The three-year project was completed in the spring. The project had the twin goals of making the region’s research infrastructures more accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and to strengthen the development of the region’s life science ecosystem to attract more companies.
“We’ve achieved both goals with results that were extremely well received and that made it possible for others to develop further,” says Nina Lahti, Project Manager for Stockholm Life Science, at Region Stockholm’s Research and Innovation Administration.
The project has contributed to national and regional life science strategies, Lahti says.
“We concentrated on three selected pilot projects where we saw a way forward to improve conditions for collaboration between small and medium-sized companies and research infrastructures.”
Guide for new collaborations
The three pilot projects were ANA Futura at Karolinska Institutet, Vecura at Karolinska Center for Cell Therapy, Karolinska University Hospital and A Working Lab (AWL) at Akademiska Hus. Based on these three trials, the project has developed a guide that provides support throughout the entire process from preparation, development to execution.
“With the help of the guide, we can approach SMEs more effectively with our services and establish collaborations with a clear, shared idea of given projects. We are now working on implementing the tool when new projects are set up, which will mean that our collaborations will be clearer and better,” says Pontus Blomberg
Operations Manager at Vecura.
One of the challenges for the project was the fact that the three infrastructures had different forms of ownership: state, regional, and as a state-owned company.
“This raised complicated legal issues in several areas of law, such as municipal law, procurement and confidentiality. We successfully established a model for close collaboration between different legal departments that resulted in well-functioning solutions that were then incorporated into the guide as a work tool,” says Lahti.
The project work provided new lessons for all participants, says Lahti.
“Our review provided increased knowledge about conditions and challenges that exist, especially in terms of managing research infrastructures. There are useful lessons to be learned when additional infrastructures are opened.”
The next step is for similar infrastructures to be opened in similar ways for companies. This work is being carried out by the Center for Innovative Medicine (CIMED), on Campus Flemingsberg among others.
Building vital co-operation bridges
In efforts to strengthen the development of the region’s life sciences ecosystem, collaboration has deepened between Flemingsberg Science and Karolinska Institutet Science Park.
“This aspect of the project has contributed to building important innovation bridges between the north and south of Stockholm. The setting up of AWL on Campus Flemingsberg also helped in this respect,” says Lahti.
AWL is a community and a meeting place focused on the life science sector that opened office and lab facilities in Flemingsberg in 2022.
“The Stockholm Life Tech project has been a contributing factor to our setting up in Campus Flemingsberg, and has created good conditions for continued collaboration between us and other research and innovation infrastructures in the area,” comments Åsa Johansson, responsible for the AWL concept at Akademiska Hus.
One step in strengthening the ecosystem has been the development of an online visualisation of actors in the local life sciences ecosystem. A first version has been published for Campus Flemingsberg and the development of another one for Campus Solna is underway.
“The visualisation of the ecosystem has been excellent because it’s something that not the company in particular has called for,” says Lahti.