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June 19, 2006
Stockholm / Uppsala Neurotechnology Cluster Analyzed
Last week I received a superb 40-page report analyzing the factors that have been important in establishing the the Stockholm/Uppsala regions' position in the global neurotechnology industry. Written by Swedish neuroscience graduate students Jesper Ericsson, Mikael Nygård and Minrui Zheng, the report was a response to NeuroInsights' Neurotech Nexus Report that analyzed the leading regional neurotech clusters worldwide and which ranked this particular region a competitive 10th place. Here is a snippet from the report Stockholm/Uppsala - Strengthening and Enhancing Its Position as an Emerging Neurotechnology Cluster:
"Swedish neuroscience is characterized by excellence in research, and this is the very foundation of the neurotechnology industry. The Stockholm/Uppsala cluster is the strongest region in Sweden and several outstanding research groups have been identified in basic, clinical and applied neuroscience at especially three main universities: Karolinska Institutet, the Royal Institute of Technology, and Uppsala University. There was a general agreement throughout the interviews that the ranking by NeuroInsights in 2005 that listed Stockholm/Uppsala as the 10th strongest neurotechnology cluster in the world was a good and fair judgment, and some even advocated that the cluster was stronger and should be ranked higher.
In addition to academic research, the ranking was also based on the regions access to venture capital as well as the number neurotechnology companies. The venture capital business in Sweden appears to be strong, especially in comparison to other EU countries, and there are several life science specialized firms within the region with HealthCap as the largest actor. There is also an increased activity by foreign venture capital firms that wants to access the Swedish life science sector and invest at early stage in start-ups (Interviews with Ylva Williams and Kai Hammerich, ISA)...
There is however also several worrying signs within the region that are mainly concerned with the inadequate measures taken by the government to increase the growth rate of the neurotechnology sector and the region in general. Within academia, there is a growing and alarming concern about the halting funding of research together with growing costs in terms of rent and administration.
The recognition of neuroscience in general as the potentially strongest area within the lifescience sector in Sweden by the Invest in Sweden Agency and others in 2001, was an important recognition of the excellence of Swedish neuroscience and later led to the establishment of Swedish Brain Power. The placement of the OECD neuroinformatics international coordinating facility in Stockholm is another important international recognition of the region. If these and other efforts such as the “Norra Station” project by Stockholm BioScience are successful they will surely contribute to the excellence of this neurotechnology cluster, which will hopefully maintain and also enhance its international competitiveness.
Our report shows that with adequate and focused measures, the Stockholm/Uppsala neurotechnology cluster has the ability not only to sustain its strong position, but to grow considerably in volume, strength and excellence."
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