In this commentary, NDA’s Johan Strömquist and Thomas Lönngren provide their reflections on the unique opportunities the Nordics present for the Life Science Sector.
Nordic life science has been on a roller-coaster for the last twenty years. It was at the epi-centre of the creation of some of the world’s most successful pharmaceutical companies, such as AstraZeneca, Pharmacia, Novo Nordisk, Leo and Lundbeck. The downsizing and movements of the Swedish giants left a vacuum in the region that was hard to fill.
It has taken until now for the Life Science community to stage its comeback to the world stage. This time however, the success does not belong to one or two big companies, but to hundreds of small, agile and innovative biotechs. The problem these smaller companies have faced has been funding to allow them to properly develop and commercialise their innovations. But even in this arena, we see that great strides are being taken to address the challenges.
We are quickly approaching the four-year anniversary of the announcement that Janssen licensed one of Alligator Bioscience’s early stage immune-oncology agents for a sizeable amount. Last year Wilson Therapeutics was acquired for a whooping SEK 6.6 billion and AstraZeneca invested heavily in SOBI. This year we’ve seen significant scientific and/or financial successes from smaller companies such as Cantargia, Xbrane, Immunicum, Cereno Scientific and Xintela and more biotechs than ever have found their way to the stock market via Stockholm Nasdaq.
However, using the capital that this success unlocks comes with its own challenges. How should a small biotech prioritise and use the capital in an optimal way to ensure success and that scientific advances are within parameters that are both approvable and reimbursable?
For over twenty years NDA has worked to support companies overcome these hurdles and make sure that precious resources are used to optimise the outcomes.
Says Johan Strömquist, CEO NDA Group:
“The Nordic life science community is remarkable – it is resilient, innovative and able to create a lot from very little. What I see right now is incredibly exciting and encouraging – significant strides in cross-company and cross-border collaboration.”
“Through organisations like Sweden BIO, Medicon Valley Alliance and, more recently, the LSX Nordic Congress in collaboration with Stockholm Nasdaq, I see companies getting together to discuss common concerns. As a trusted international advisor, we have a unique opportunity to bring learnings from all over the world into the Nordic life science scene for the benefit of everyone.”
NDA’s Strategic Advisor, Thomas Lönngren, formerly Chief Executive of the European Medicines Agency, agrees:
“The US remains the most important development region for new medicines in the world. How do they do it? By bringing everything together – capital, universities, hospitals, entrepreneurs and large companies. Just look at Boston; you have everything within walking distance!”
“Though the goal may not be to emulate the American success story 100% the movements we see toward more collaboration and cross-fertilisation is very positive. We have strong academia and are very good at spinning out companies in the Nordics. Now we just need to improve the way we develop new medicines so they can reach the market and the patients that need them consistently to make the Nordics an important hub of drug innovation.”
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