The Life Science Bridge is a joint initiative between the regional Swedish American Chambers of Commerce in San Diego, Boston, San Francisco and Minnesota, supporting Scandinavian life science companies looking to expand to the US market.
NLS asked Felicia Steinunnsdóttir, Management Associate at the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce (SACC) in San Diego, USA, about the initiative.
Why have you chosen these four US cities/clusters?
“San Diego, San Francisco, and Boston represent the three largest life science regions in the USA. Together, we cover a large spectrum of the USA and gain greater impact if we can act as an organization when we reach out to Swedish companies within the life science industry. In the fall of 2022, SACC in Minnesota, a state with dominance in the US medical device industry, joined the Life Science Bridge initiative and became the fourth chamber in the project, further broadening our network and appeal.”
How you can help or assist Nordic companies?
“The overarching goal is to promote trade and foster business relationships between Swedish and American life science companies. We can help Swedish companies identify specific companies in the area, which could be potential customers, competitors, or partners, and help them find potential investors.”
For example, with intellectual property, we have a contact at a large local law firm that specializes in working with life science companies and has extensive experience with Swedish and Danish firms.”
“When it comes to FDA approvals we can refer to different law firms that specialize in this and can guide them further. For example, with intellectual property, we have a contact at a large local law firm that specializes in working with life science companies and has extensive experience with Swedish and Danish firms. We also help Swedish companies stay informed about what’s happening in the US market and we collaborate with various partners who can provide support.”
What is your best advice to a Nordic company looking to expand to the US market?
“The process of establishing a presence in the US is quite lengthy and complex. Therefore, it’s necessary to work proactively and get valuable contacts or ready-made concepts to participate in.”
Early missteps can easily kill a great technology.”
“For medical technologies, make sure you understand who is going to pay for your technology and why. It is not just a matter of a registration, clearance or approval from the FDA. Find the right experts who can guide and support you. Early missteps can easily kill a great technology.”
What advice would you like to give to a CEO currently developing their sales-organization for the US market?
“Have a very clear understanding of who you are actually selling to. Appreciate the pros and cons of developing a direct sales force vs. working with distributors, or if you will pursue a direct-to-consumer strategy. Ensure that you educate your customers and those who need to understand your technology to facilitate adoption.”
What would you say are the main differences in how to approach market entry in the US and Europe?
“The US market is considered the largest in the world and is highly attractive for any life science company to enter. Although it may appear as “one” market, the US healthcare system is highly complex, with numerous stake holders with interests that can be conflicting and appear confusing.”
Although it may appear as “one” market, the US healthcare system is highly complex, with numerous stake holders with interests that can be conflicting and appear confusing.”
“The European market has its own complexities and challenges but countries with a dominating single payer system can often simplify market entry.”
From your experience, what are US investors looking for when they consider Nordic life science companies?
“A large market opportunity, relevant clinical evidence, and a plan with a team that can execute.”
Featured photo of Felicia Steinunnsdóttir: SACC
Facts: Bridging the Gap
The annual life science event Bridging the Gap is organized jointly by the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce in San Diego, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, New England and Minnesota. It is a two-day event with the purpose to inspire, educate and connect people in the life science scene. To make the event even more global, last year’s Bridging the Gap was held in partnership with the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce in San Diego.
This Q&A was originally published in NLS magazine No 03 2023, out September 2023