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New report: The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Swedish life sciences

Maria Helling

The Swecare Foundation has released a report showing that all life science companies have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a survey of its member companies.

The results were presented at Swecare’s Open-Up Day on June 11 for the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and Swecare’s member companies.

Small companies most affected

According to the survey, small companies were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reduced sales and customer access, trade barriers and logistical challenges have affected companies’ abilities to export and globalize their business. Travel restrictions, lack of access to capital and limited contact with healthcare decision-makers have made the situation faced by these companies more difficult.

Most respondents reported feeling only negative effects, but almost as many reported experiencing positive and negative effects of the pandemic. Seventy-three percent of the smallest companies reported experiencing solely negative effects due to the pandemic.

“It is clear that sales and, as a result, exports have presented a bigger problem for our member companies than production itself. A smaller customer base has negatively affected sales, with some reporting that the market for their products has completely stalled,” says Maria Helling, CEO of Swecare.

New and innovative solutions

The pandemic has also clearly highlighted Swecare’s member companies’ capability to develop new and innovative solutions, with 78 percent of respondents (including every large member company) reporting as such. Most innovations involve digitalization to address novel needs that have arisen during the pandemic, both within companies and for customer relations. Demand for digital healthcare services has increased and is expected to continue.

“Most innovations involve digitalization to address novel needs that have arisen during the pandemic.”

The far-reaching effects of the pandemic are still unclear, but many member companies see a negative trend throughout the next six months. It is apparent that the pandemic’s effect on the life science and healthcare sectors have been significant, and that future needs vary depending on what role each company plays.

“Swecare plays an important role in supporting our members with starting their business and promoting exports, all of which will require intensive work moving forward. As a pro-export organization we are always looking for new ways to work with and reach out to foreign decision-makers and stakeholders in order to ensure that Swedish healthcare and life science industries continue to be part of the solution as other countries build resilient and sustainable healthcare systems,” says Maria Helling.

About Swecare and the report

Swecare was founded in 1978 by the Swedish government and the health care industry together as a semi-governmental non-profit organization. Today, Swecare has around 550 Swedish companies and organizations in its network. The members represent the entire health care spectrum – from the small startup company to universities, county councils, and global corporations, working with everything from biotech to medical technology, pharmaceuticals, and health care services.

The report is based on survey responses from 54 member companies collected during April and May 2020. It has been supplemented with background information from Business Sweden, Swedish MedTech and the trade association for the research-based pharmaceutical industry (LIF). Read the report (in Swedish) here!

Photo of Maria Helling, CEO, Swecare