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New report: The state of Medicon Valley

The new “State of Medicon Valley analysis – An analysis of life science in Greater Copenhagen”, includes a close examination of the development of the cluster’s regional beacons.

Medicon Valley Alliance (MVA)’s new CEO, Anette Steenberg presented the highlights from the report at MVA’s Annual Meeting, November 8th, at Clarion Hotel Copenhagen Airport.

In the analysis’ preface Steenberg emphasized the unique opportunity MVA has.

“In the years to come, Medicon Valley Alliance will place a strong emphasis on strengthening the organisation’s role as a facilitator of increased collaboration between our members, for the benefit of life science in Sweden and Denmark.”

“With its 300 members, the Danish-Swedish network organization Medicon Valley Alliance has a unique opportunity to build bridges between national and regional initiatives, as well as to create stronger links between the industry, academia and public healthcare providers in the region,” she stated. “In the years to come, Medicon Valley Alliance will place a strong emphasis on strengthening the organisation’s role as a facilitator of increased collaboration between our members, for the benefit of life science in Sweden and Denmark.”

Major growth

Among the facts and figures presented in the analysis were a major growth in tax revenues. The Swedish life science sector contributed 2.3% of the total revenue from income- and corporation tax in Sweden in 2019, equivalent to 16.3 billion SEK. Danish tax revenue from the life science sector comprises 3.4% of the total revenue from corporations and income. In 2019, the life science sector contributed 20.9 billion DKK.

When it comes to patents, 717 Danish patent applications were submitted to EPO in the life science field last year. That corresponds to an 8.5% increase from 2019. That is the highest level since 2010, the first year for the statistics accessible today. The number of Swedish applications was 445, an 19% increase from 2019.

Last year was also a record year for exports in the life science industry. Danish export value has more than doubled since 2010 to 143 billion DKK in 2020. The Swedish life science sector also had a record year in 2020, with exports of 124 billion SEK – an increase of 10.4% since 2019.

The region also possesses six flourishing science parks and the synchrotron radiation facility MAX IV in Lund and the European Spallation Source are expected to offer new opportunities for developing pharmaceuticals, it is stated in the analysis.

Last, but not least, the analysis shows that the region’s life science companies are investing in new plants, offices, research facilities, and they are making acquisitions and scaling up their manufacturing capacities. A total of over 900 border commuters were identified in the region.

The beacons of Medicon Valley

A special theme of this year’s report was the beacons of Medicon Valley. The authors have taken a closer look and examined the development of the life science cluster’s regional beacons  – the companies with more than 250 employees in Medicon Valley.

“These 32 companies (25 in eastern Denmark and seven in Skåne), highlighted in the report, employ 86 per cent (around 43,000 people) of all those employed in life science companies in Medicon Valley.”

These 32 companies (25 in eastern Denmark and seven in Skåne), highlighted in the report, employ 86 per cent (around 43,000 people) of all those employed in life science companies in Medicon Valley. The number of people who work in these beacon companies has increased over the past five years. Approximately 4,000 new jobs have thus been added in these companies, according to figures compiled by Øresundsinstituttet through the Interreg-project Greater Copenhagen Life Science Analysis Initiative and from data from e.g. the company register Bisnod. More than half of these companies are scaling up through acquisitions or investments in new or expanded offices, research facilities and plants.

Among the recent investments made are Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ doubling of the capacity at its Hillerød plant, Ferring’s new Danish headquarters, Soundport, in Kastrup, LEO Pharma’s planned facility adjacent to its headquarters in Ballerup, and Genmab’s construction of a new headquarters in Valby, Copenhagen. The largest beacon company in the region, Novo Nordisk, has also invested 18 billion DKK in its Kalundborg site since 2000 and in Skåne, McNeil, PolyPeptide, and Sever Pharma Solutions (QPharma) are also making new investments in their respective facilities in the region.

A growing demand for talent and skilled labor

Many of the 32 large life science companies expect that they will have still more employees in the region in the next few years, describes the analysis. And many of them also fear that the growing demand for talent and skilled labor within both production, R&D and business development can create a bottleneck if not adressed.

“We don’t see it getting easier to recruit highly skilled laborers in the future. In that sense, we see this increasingly becoming a problem.”

One such company is Lundbeck, who are going through a major restructuring. “This calls for many new specialists and advanced digital expertise, and many such professionals are in short supply in Medicon Valley,” says Elise Hauge, Executive Vice President for People and Communication at Lundbeck in the analysis.

More skilled laborers from abroad, more commuters across the Danish-Swedish border and more STEM admissions would benefit the Medicon Valley cluster, Hauge believes. “My colleagues at other pharma companies are also concerned about the future. We don’t see it getting easier to recruit highly skilled laborers in the future. In that sense, we see this increasingly becoming a problem.”

Read the full analysis here!

The analysis was prepared by Øresundsinstituttet and was written by Jenny Andersson, Anna Palmehag, Thea Wiborg and Johan Wessman. Material for the special theme chapter has been retrieved from the survey of the region’s life science companies conducted by the Interreg-project Greater Copenhagen Life Science Analysis Initiative and prepared by analysts Kristoffer Dahl Sørensen and Sofi Eriksson.

Photo: ALK-Abelló production/R&D