Flemingsberg – from brains to business

A growing cluster with several higher education institutions, world-leading research and a vibrant industry. Flemingsberg boasts a good breeding ground for developing new ideas and creating new business.

– We need to learn from each other how to create environments that promote collaboration to solve the societal challenges of the future, says Björn Varnestig, CEO of Flemingsberg Science.

Flemingsberg Science is one of the stakeholders the participants get to meet during UniverCITY Partnerships Conference in Stockholm and Uppsala 12 to 14 October. In southern Stockholm, an exciting campus area has emerged in recent years. Here, you will find several higher education institutions within walking distance of each other, combined with innovative Life Science companies, an environment unique to Sweden.

– An international context is required to find others, facing similar challenges to us, and from whom we can learn. The conference is also an opportunity for us to show the world how you, in an environment like this, can get different actors to jointly target solving major societal challenges, says Björn Varnestig.

He is the CEO at Flemingsberg Science, which is a foundation tasked with developing and creating new partnerships between academia, industry and society.

Behind the foundation are heavy academic institutions, such as Karolinska Institutet, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Södertörn University and the Red Cross University College. Also the public sector is represented, through Stockholm County Council, Huddinge Municipality and Botkyrka Municipality.

Although the owners are large, Flemingsberg Science is a very tight organisation with just two employees.

– We are an initiator. We can never run large-scale projects ourselves, but have to show the benefit and added value of increased collaboration between the actors and stakeholders. Areas where the sum is greater than the parts.

This is done by identifying societal problems and finding platforms for collaboration. Issues, such as how to make an increasingly expensive and more advanced healthcare available to all, or how to promote healthy ageing as we live longer.

– Collaboration is essential. No individual actor can solve these challenges alone, says Björn Varnestig.

A concrete example is cell therapy, where there is international cutting-edge competence in the Stockholm area that, for instance, can be used to develop treatments for, at present, incurable heart diseases and cancers.

– Good research and clinical practice are already being pursued in this area. There is also a vibrant industry in the area. We are now working on the establishment of a research institute that can act as a link between research, healthcare and business, says Björn Varnestig.

Another concrete example is a project where business developers, in collaboration with the actors in Flemingsberg, have looked at a number of problem areas in the healthcare sector, and how to find solutions and business value in this context. The project resulted in some 30 new business opportunities, half of which in terms of new businesses.