Stockholm-Uppsala joins forces to attract EMA

Published November 2016

The Stockholm-Uppsala region has already made the future investments to which the European Medicines Agency (EMA) requires access in order for the EU to resume its leading international position in life science. The below debate article was published in Swedish media Dagens Samhälle under the headline “Seize the Brexit effect and attract EMA”.

As a result of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, several common authorities will be leaving the country. One of them is the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which tests and approves medicines for the European market.

We believe Sweden and the Stockholm-Uppsala region are well-suited for the EMA to immediately continue operations after a move. The region has emerged in the last decade as one of Europe’s strongest clusters in life science, with several significant public and private players.

The region has a strong partnership between industry, academia and health and medical care. Karolinska Institutet is one of the leading medical universities and with Brexit, it will have an even stronger position in the EU.

The Stockholm-Uppsala region has already made the future investments to which the EMA requires access in order for the EU to resume its leading international position in life science. Several examples of public and private investments that create the conditions for cutting edge research and increased expertise in life science include:

SciLifeLab, a collaboration between four universities in the region and a national center for molecular biosciences.

BioProcess Innovation Hub, a new national testbed for the production of biopharmaceuticals at GE Healthcare’s facility in Uppsala.

AstraZeneca, which is investing in an ultramodern production facility in Södertälje.

• The university hospitals New Karolinska Solna; Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge; and Uppsala University Hospital.

The EMA will be able to take advantage of these assets from day one in the event of establishment in Sweden. Add to the above the regulatory expertise of the Medical Products Agency in Uppsala; Sweden’s extensive and successful collaboration between research and clinical trials, and the development of new substances and medications by pharmaceutical companies. At the same time, our position in ICT can contribute to the development of the EMA. The link between the EMA and the EU authority that is already in Stockholm, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), would also strengthen the EU’s health and safety initiatives for people and animals.

Over 800 people currently work at the EMA in London. Less than ten percent of them are British citizens. The same will apply if the EMA is moved to Sweden on account of highly educated people in a global labor market who will establish themselves and their families here. Stockholm-Uppsala is a northern European region that can offer a large and advanced academic life science network as well as the quality of life of an international metropolitan area. In addition, around 4,000 experts commute to the EMA today.

We are a group that has drawn the government’s attention to the excellent conditions for moving the EMA to Sweden. We have noted positive responses from Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg and Minister for Health Care, Public Health and Sport Gabriel Wikström. But accordingly, other life science clusters in Europe, including Dublin, Munich and Amsterdam, are also clearly working hard to attract the EMA.

For Sweden to successfully compete for the EMA’s placement, the Swedish government must actively highlight Swedish interest in serving as host country of the EMA and in locating the authority in the Stockholm-Uppsala region. The government can do so with the knowledge that there is broad support from the region. We are now continuing the process to fully satisfy the EMA’s requirements. Our highest-priority issues include facilities, housing and international schools.

Chris Heister, County Governor, Stockholm County Administrative Board
Karin Wanngård (s), Mayor of the City of Stockholm
Marlene Burwick (s), Chair of the City Executive Board, Uppsala Municipality
Torbjörn Rosdahl (m), County Council Finance Commissioner, Stockholm County Council
Börje Wennberg (s), Chair of the Executive Board, Uppsala County Council
Hans Enocson, CEO, GE Norden
Björn O. Nilsson, Chairman, Stockholm Science City Foundation
Maria Rankka, CEO, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce
Göran Sandberg, Professor and Executive Director, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Mathias Uhlén, Professor, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) 

Find the original article in Dagens Samhälle here