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Hey there: Helena Strigård, new Director General of SwedenBIO

Helena Strigård

Helena Strigård, M.Sc. Molecular Biotechnology and BA Business Economy, has previously worked as an advisor within research and innovation politics at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and as an advisor at BusinessEurope.

At the Ministry of Finance she has been responsible for a number of political areas, such as industry and research politics and the 2016 research and innovation bill.

Helena Strigård took up her new position on September 1st 2019, replacing Jonas Ekstrand, who was CEO of SwedenBIO for eight years.

What do you want to achieve in your new role? What are your goals?

“I want to unite the whole life science ecosystem in Sweden and to an even larger extent work together with our members. We have a type of slogan which summarizes this: The big picture has become our niche! It reflects how the community we are building is growing, not only in numbers but in terms of diversity in a way that I believe will vitalise the sector. Bringing together life science companies, funding bodies, incubators, science parks, as well as experts within finance, business development, communications, IP etc. Our identity is firmly as an industry organization but at the same time we are building a community together with other actors necessary for the industry to thrive.”

Is there an issue, an issue perhaps close to your heart, which you want to put extra focus on?

“I want to address how we can help our innovative, often small “home-grown”, companies to in a better way meet global demands and be more clearly equipped for both the demands from the market and from investors. In order to succeed in this we need more smart capital, early on, and favorable conditions for collaborations and knowledge exchange between companies. I will build upon SwedenBIO’s three foundation pillars to meet this demand, which is building business networks, spreading knowledge and giving the industry a strong voice. Every aspect of our activities derives from these foundations and the needs expressed by our members.”

How will you work for more collaboration between the Nordic life science industries and how can we grow stronger together?

“It is interesting how, in all Nordic countries, it seems to be easier to come together on a Nordic level than on a national level sometimes.”

“A great part of our organization is today working to connect the Swedish life science industry internationally. We are proud organizers of NLSDays, which is our platform for the Nordic countries, all of which are strong in life science, to together become luminous enough to attract investments and research collaborations in every corner of the world. SwedenBIO is also a driving force in gathering the Nordic countries in a shared  pavilion with common marketing efforts at the BIO International Convention in the US, the world’s largest life science event. It is interesting how, in all Nordic countries, it seems to be easier to come together on a Nordic level than on a national level sometimes. Regional interests take a back seat when we work together against an international audience, and that is healthy.”

What do you think is the greatest challenge within Swedish life science right now?

“Creating conditions for win-win between the innovation power that many of our, in particular smaller, companies offer and the demand for external innovation that large international companies have to a higher extent. This means for example to contribute in building companies on a stable foundation. We are no experts at this, but we have members who are and who can tell the rest of us  about their experiences, both about where they have stumbled and how they have succeeded. It is that kind of platform that we offer among other things.”

What is the most exciting thing within Swedish life science right now?

“So much! But if I have to choose one thing I would like to highlight how we stand out more and more as a manufacturing country within life science, and we are talking about advanced production. The establishments that we have attracted here create qualified job opportunities.”

Would you like to add something about your new role?

“Yes, that a job that is more fun than this doesn’t exist!”