Strategic innovation area coordinated from Lund

Vinnova is investing SEK 500 million in collaboration on non-communicable diseases over the next ten years. A call for proposals for collaborative projects is currently open.
“Researchers who collaborate with either the business sector or the health service, or both, have a chance of obtaining a grant”, says Peter Nordström, who is coordinating the national initiative from Lund.

Peter Nordstrom

Peter Nordström is coordinating the SWElife innovation programme.

The entire initiative aims to strengthen the life science sector and to improve the lives of patients with a non-communicable disease by increasing interaction between research, health care and the business sector.

“Collaboration is not always easy and one of the aims is for the parties involved to have a chance to communicate on key challenges on which they can achieve a lot by working together”, says Nordström, programme director for SWElife, which is the name of the strategic innovation area with a focus on non-communicable diseases. He coordinates the programme from his office at LU Innovation System on Sölvegatan.

Last year, SEK 9 million was awarded to diabetes projects. Lund University did well and is involved in projects that received grants for the development of new diagnosis tools and of proposals for new drugs and treatment aids.

The current call is open until March and is offering SEK 18 million for collaboration on non-communicable diseases. The money will fund around ten projects for two years.

“We are going to have additional open calls for proposals. We will have discussions with Vinnova, who will then decide what to continue supporting and what to prioritise in particular”, explains Peter Nordström.

What they are looking for is research excellence and strong configurations that have good chances of producing important innovations.

Despite the existence of both cutting-edge life science research and quite a strong life science industry in Sweden, the sector has suffered major setbacks in recent years, most noticeably with the closure of Astra Zeneca.

It is hoped that SWElife will strengthen the entire ‘life science ecosystem’ and equip it to stand up to global competition.

“The collaborative projects add value that can increase the chances of all parties to attract new investments”, says Peter Nordström.

Peter Nordström wrote his licentiate thesis in zoology at Lund University and then worked at Astra Zeneca until 2008. For the past few years, he has been vice president of the Medicon Valley Alliance (MVA) – a member organisation for Swedish and Danish organisations in academia, health care and industry. In that role he worked on business development and was responsible for the MVA international ambassador programme. The MVA now has representatives in Japan and on the east and west coasts of the USA (Boston and San Diego).

Text and photo: Britta Collberg

SWElife

SWElife is one of the strategic innovation areas established by Vinnova, FORMAS and the Swedish Energy Agency.

SWElife is led by a national board chaired by neuroscience researcher Martin Ingvar, Karolinska institutet. The board influences the focus of the calls, but successful projects are selected by Vinnova and independent external assessors.

SWElife is coordinated from Lund.

The aim of SWElife is to strengthen the life science industry in Sweden by supporting collaboration between research, health care and industry. The goal is to convert new research findings into improved care, drugs and medical aids that benefit patients and public health.

In order to obtain a grant, projects must involve collaboration between at least two partners. Grants are not available for pure research or business projects.

More information: www.swelife.se