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Peter Honeth, State Secretary to the Minister for Education …

… and Deputy Prime Minister Jan Björklund, working at the Ministry of Education and Research at the Government Offices of Sweden.

What is the government’s strategy for  investing in and developing the life science industry in Sweden?

“There are a whole range of initiatives that the Swedish government has set up: We have increased the funding for medical research by approximately 20 percent over just four years. Specific strategic research areas, including for example widespread diseases, have been selected. Also, several clinical research schools have been set up so that more people can attend postgraduate studies within these areas.”

How can Sweden become more competitive on the global market?
“There are three things that we have to accomplish: improve the quality of research, increase the possibilities for clinical research and clinical trials within health care and create incentives for research and development in the tax system. That includes everything from the recruitment of skilled researchers from foreign countries to reviewing corporate taxes.”

How will the government work in order to promote research in Sweden?
“Great efforts to improve research are already being made. However, there is still plenty of work to do. We have to continue development and enhance the quality of Swedish research. For instance, there are two large-scale infrastructure investments I believe can have a great impact: the European Spallation Source (ess) and Max IV which will be built in Lund in the coming years. With these two research facilities Sweden can become a global world class centre for studies of materials and structures, including basic research in drug development. In Stockholm and Uppsala, a medical research institute – SciLifeLab – is being developed, where researchers work with the study of genetics and other areas.”

What is the biggest challenge for the life science industry in Sweden?
“We have to be better at clinical research and increase the capacity of clinical trials in health care. Historically, Sweden has had a strong position, with successful medical research and inventions such as the pacemaker, as well as several big pharmaceutical companies. But we cannot sit back, we have to keep working so that the life science industry stays strong in the future.”