The Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab), a joint initiative between four universities to build an infrastructure for high-throughput medical and environmental research in Sweden, is getting US$100 million of new investment as part of a package of budgetary measures announced by the national government.
In a speech at SciLifeLab, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt confirmed Sweden’s largest ever investment in the life sciences as a key element of the ruling coalition’s autumn budget and its research and innovation bill.
The government will invest US$320 million in the life sciences between 2013 and 2016, among a package of measures totalling around US$1.7 billion over the next four years.
On top of the US$100 million going to SciLifeLab (which more than doubles the government’s current funding for the centre), US$220 million will be invested in drug discovery, clinical research, research into antibiotic resistance, health in aging, and the use of patient registries.
The commitments are timely given the recent decision by AstraZeneca, the largest life science company in Sweden, to close its research and development sites in the municipalities of Lund and Umea, as well as limiting operations in Molndal and Sodertalie, with a total loss of nearly a thousand jobs.
The majority of the goverrnment’s life science investments will be in the Stockholm-Uppsala region, already home to more than 50% of Sweden’s life science industry.
According to a recent report by Stockholm-Uppsala Life Science, there are 633 life science companies with a combined turnover of SKr 177 billion in the three counties of Uppsala, Stockholm and Sörmland, spanning pharmaceuticals (58% of the total workforce), medical technology, biotechnology, diagnostics and contract research.
Spread over two sites in Stockholm and Uppsala, SciLifeLab is a national scientific centre for large-scale research in bioscience, medicine and the environment. It was set up in 2010 by Karolinska Institutet, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University and Uppsala University.
In 2013, SciLifeLab’s two nodes in Stockholm and Uppsala will join together to form a single national resource for the life sciences. Focusing on genetics, molecular bioscience and protein science, the centre is expected to grow to accommodate some 1,000 scientists over the next few years.