Tradition, tireless bridge-building, and
long-term strategies have yielded results
in a short time

Uppsala's strong life science cluster is the result of a long history of collaboration between research at the universities and the university hospital, a burgeoning industry, and society. Uppsala BIO is enriching the soil for life science growth. The fruits are beginning to appear.


Top image: ©2009 General Electric Company – All rights reserved. Reproduced with kind permission.
Bottom image, photo: Markus Marcetic

Today Uppsala boasts a life science industry consisting of over 200 companies, primarily in biotech tools, diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals. The proximity of government authorities like the Medical Products Agency, the National Food Administration, and the National Veterinary Institute is seen in the large number of CRO companies that operate from Uppsala throughout the world. Some 18% of Uppsala's jobs are in life science. Important academic research is carried out at the two universities, Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU, also crucial in supplying the sector with competence in science, but also in business, statistics, law and of course languages and art. Uppsala University Hospital works as a part of Uppsala University and as provider of leading healthcare, a core competence in understanding the needs of life science sector when it comes to human health. 

Stockholm, with universities as Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm University or the Royal Institue of Technology and the Karolinska University Hosptial and another 500 life science companie is only 45 minutes, by train or by car. 


Universities and industry crucial to developments 

As early as 1950 Pharmacia moved all of its operations to Uppsala. A decisive factor was its collaboration with the research team in biochemistry at Uppsala University that was built up by professors The Svedberg and Arne Tiselius. Another key aspect was that the City of Uppsala made land available. Pharmacia was an important player in the development of the cluster. More and more companies were spun off from university research and from Pharmacia.

Plan for long-term growth

In 1998 STUNS launched the project for the future called Campus Uppsala, which showcased Uppsala's capacity to develop research into knowledge-based industries, not only in life science. In 2001 when VINNOVA presented the ideas behind its VINNVÄXT competition, Uppsala was well positioned to produce a plan for how its life science sector would grow over the long term. A pilot project at Uppsala University Holding identified the essential prerequisites.

Uppsala BIO is established
In January, 2003, the STUNS board adopted the first plan of action for the Uppsala life science sector, which also served as Uppsala's entry in the national VINNVÄXT competition. At the same time the board founded Uppsala BIO, which was charged with implementing the plan. Three months later Uppsala BIO was selected as one of three winners and was therefore able to start to execute the action plan and the continued long-term development of strategies for the life science sector.

Representatives from various players
Today Uppsala BIO has about 30 members. They include companies, the two universities, Uppsala University Hospital, and representatives from local government. Since 2003 the number of employees in life science companies in Uppsala has increased by 15 %. At the same time the turnover at these companies has grown by a full 84 % (2003 - 2010).

Uppsala BIO operates in the Stockholm-Uppsala Region, Sweden's prime region for life science with over 50 % of the country's companies and academic research within approximately one hour's distance.

Uppsala BIO's most important contributions to the long-term development of the sector have thus far been:

• The BIO-X program, which provides an entirely new platform for taking ideas and research findings to proof of concept

• The aggregation of innovation support around Uppsala Innovation Centre, a process that involved many participants

• The founding of Stockholm-Uppsala Life Science, the first joint effort with Stockholm to clearly market the region's life science abroad

• The network that is manifested, in the BIO-PUBs, for instance, and the constellation that today lies behind a long-term strategy for the development of the life science sector in Uppsala.

A region under constant growth
A competitive and sustainable life science sector requires that we constantly sharpen our strategies. Needs change, as does the competition from other regions in the world. Together with our members we are intent on carrying out activities that will ensure that the life science sector will continue to flourish.

EU Vinnova