Connecting Nordic Life Science hot spots

Published: 01 March 2024

Text: Anne-Marie Korseberg Stokke

Photo: Angelique Culvin-Riccot, The Life Science Cluster, Privat

How can the connections between Nordic life science hot spots like Oslo and Gothenburg be strengthened? And what does it take for the Nordics to truly embrace its joint critical mass of talent and innovative power on a global scale?

These were among the questions asked and discussed at the breakfast seminar “Ticket to Ride Nordics” at Oslo Science Park recently. We met up with some of them in the post-seminar mingling:

“We are happy to welcome top-level representatives from across the Nordic region to Oslo today.  They have a full day of meetings and are getting to know companies and our ecosystem,” says Hanne Mette Kristensen, CEO of The Life Science Cluster.

The seminar co-hosted by The Life Science Cluster and AstraZeneca BioVentureHub is part of a tour initiated by the recruitment company Haeger & Carlsson Executive Search and Interim.

“Our Nordic “family affair” is a tricky one as we are also competing about talent as a scarce resource amongst ourselves. With this tour, we aim to shine a light on good examples of true win-win across borders and how to get there, while not shying away from the difficulties that both companies, candidates and regions might be facing with a more mobile workforce, says CEO and partner Helena Strigård.”

Anders Persson, Head of Ecosystem Strategy & Projects, BioVenture Innovation Unit i AstraZeneca was interviewed by Helena Strigård.

Labor market mobility

Strigård points out two trends within recruitment and interim solutions in the life sciences:

“We see that companies are more willing to recruit from a larger geographical remit as people are not required to show up physically at work five days a week anymore, no matter where they live. What we also see is more willingness to share specialists between companies, for instance, having a part-time CFO on a senior level being supported by full-time junior staff.”

Strigård believes both trends could ultimately lead to life science clusters maturing faster, learning from each other, and providing critical mass for investments into our region.

Nordic investors

The investor side of the table was represented at the seminar by Lene Gerlach, Partner at the life sciences venture capital fund Eir Ventures. Eir Ventures is a private Venture Fund supported by InnovFin Equity, with the financial backing of the European Union. It has raised 125 MEUR in total since its inception in 2020.

Lene Gerlach, partner in Eir Ventures

“We invest in the Nordics, but so far, we only have Danish and Swedish companies in our portfolio. Norway has a top-class University and high-quality research, and we would like to invest more in the Norwegian life science industry,” says Gerlach.

Lene Gerlach has more than 25 years of experience within the life science industry as a research scientist, patent attorney, business developer, and consultant on university spin-out corporations. Since 2014, she has worked as a venture capitalist having financed more than 35 companies.

After the breakfast seminar, Gerlach met with five selected startups and other key players in the life science ecosystem, and she liked what she saw.

“My goal is to intensify our presence here in Norway and collaborate closely with Norwegian companies, universities, and hospitals. I am impressed by the high quality of the startups and academic research projects that were presented,” Gerlach concludes.

From left: Chelsea Ranger, Helena Strigård, Lene Gerlach and Hanne Mette Dyrlie Kristensen.