Sweden is a life science nation with a strong tradition of developing new therapies, technologies, medicines and treatments. With a patient centric perspective, the Swedish ecosystem for life science is helping to address global health challenges linked to ageing populations, lifestyle-related diseases and antibiotic resistance.

The life science sector in Sweden is home to more than 1,000 companies employing around 40,000 people. These are concentrated primarily to clusters in Stockholm/Uppsala, Gothenburg, the Skåne region, Umeå and Karlskoga-Örebro. Astra Zeneca, which has one its global R&D centres in Gothenburg, Elekta, Getinge and Sobi are just a few well-known companies with Swedish origins.

Today, they are joined by other international players such as Pfizer, Philips, Johnson & Johnson and GE Healthcare, all working to improve healthcare delivery and patient care in Sweden and internationally.


Sweden is considered to be one of the world’s most prominent research nations leading the way in a wide range of fields such as oncology, neuroscience, inflammation and metabolic diseases as well as genomics, proteomics and diagnostics. One in five researchers in the country work in the life science sector and many research projects are born at renowned medical universities such as Karolinska Institute and Lund University.

The Swedish model is built on strong collaboration between academia, government and the private sector underpinned by funding agencies and policies that help to foster an environment of discovery and co-innovation. The combination of private and public R&D via the government’s Strategic Innovation Programmes (SIPs) is the backbone of progress. The excellent conditions for research are also partly owed to easy access to high quality healthcare data.

In addition to leading research (basic and applied), Sweden is in the forefront of digitalisation, automation and sustainability when it comes to both R&D and production. Swedish companies excel in drug development, biotech tools, diagnostics and MedTech, including digital healthcare solutions. They are also world leaders in biomaterials and orthopaedic implants, regenerative medicine, medical imaging and visualisation.

Several arenas for co-creation have been launched across the country including the test bed Testa Center (biological products), SciLife Lab (molecular bioscience research), Max IV (synchrotron radiation) and the cross-disciplinary research facility European Spallation Source (ESS).These are just a few examples illustrating how Sweden has become one of the most productive hubs for healthcare advancements.

Furthermore, the innovation system is unique given that scientists and university employees as well as staff at public institutes own the rights to their discoveries and inventions. This encourages inventors to commercialise their ideas and creates significant opportunities for international partners and investors.

Five key strengths of Sweden’s Life Science ecosystem:

  • More than 30 test beds and science parks focusing on biotech manufacturing, drug development, 3D bioprinting, medtech, digital health, regenerative medicine and precision medicine
  • World-renowned research community and open innovation system bringing together the private sector and academia in cross-disciplinary R&D projects
  • Home to groundbreaking scientific discoveries and several commercialised inventions, from the pacemaker to the CRISPR-Cas9 system
  • High willingness among the population to participate in clinical trials and contribute to scientific breakthroughs (less than 0.5 per cent drop-out rate)
  • Advanced digital infrastructure and readiness make Sweden fertile ground for cutting edge digital health solutions

Pharmaceuticals exports have grown markedly in recent years thanks to large players such as Astra Zeneca, Sobi and Pfizer. However, the strong development is also being driven by mid-size companies in Sweden with specialised ATMP (Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products) manufacturing expertise that are capturing market share worldwide.

Sweden is also home to several of Europe’s largest and fastest growing e-health companies (Kry, Doktor.se, Mindoktor.se) and demand for e-health services and telemedicine has surged during the pandemic. To capture the momentum, Sweden has launched a national goal to become the world leader in e-health. The life science sector is rapidly becoming data-driven and several AI research initiatives are well underway.  

Reducing costly procedures and avoiding the need to address chronic illnesses is one of this decade’s major challenges. That’s why companies need to rethink the value chain – from prediction and prevention to diagnosis and treatment – which, in turn, will result in less invasive treatments with higher precision.

Business Sweden is dedicated to help the life science community grow both at home and globally through targeted investment and trade promotion programmes. Our ambition is to help grow the number of life companies and boost the international influence of Sweden’s life science ecosystem.

We focus our promotional activities on three main programmes:

Precision medicine: This programme highlights the novel therapies/treatments and diagnostics that enable the best possible treatment with the least side effects for patients, resulting in cost savings and increased patient value. The initiative aims to attract talent, investments and to stimulate new partnerships within therapies and treatments.

Connected health: In this initiative we focus on connected, innovative solutions that lead to better health and care outcomes and higher efficiency. Monitoring, patient engagement, telehealth/telemedicine, health data management and healthcare system integration are typical examples of solutions we promote.

Infection control: The Infection Control programme aims to leverage international determination to combat drug resistant bacteria, hospital acquired infections and pandemics through Swedish solutions as well as policy leadership. Our ambition is to grow the number of providers of hospital equipment and consumables, and to attract international expertise and R&D.

Are you a foreign investor looking to establish or expand your business in Sweden’s Life Science ecosystem? Our team can provide all the assistance and insights you need.

If you are a Swedish provider looking to expand your business abroad, don’t hesitate to contact us for strategic advice and hands-on support.