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The Beacon initiative

Medicon Valley – a world class life science region

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Medicon Valley


Medicon Valley Alliance (MVA) is the Danish-Swedish network or cluster organization working for the life science organizations in Medicon Valley, i.e. the geographical area covering the southern part of Sweden (Skåne) and the eastern part of Denmark (Zealand). MVA is an alliance of stakeholders in Medicon Valley and carry out initiatives on behalf of the life science community with the goal of supporting the creation of new research and business opportunities within the region. We are driving a partly EU sponsored initiative in collaboration with a Swedish partner, Invest in Skåne, the Beacon Initiative. The project was initiated in order to create a common strategy and shared vision for how Medicon Valley can meet global challenges and become a world-leading life science cluster.
The aim with this project is to identify a number of scientific stronghold positions in our region that can be further developed into world-leading centers of excellence through smart collaborations across different disciplines, across academia and industry and across the Danish-Swedish border. These centers, or “Beacons”, will attract world leading scientists and global investors, and thereby contribute to the attractivity and growth of our life science environment.

Challenges and Opportunities

From a national economic perspective the most important prerequisite for wealth and welfare is the presence of domestic jobs leading to tax revenue and local market demand. If we are not able to provide the right framework and the necessary talent pool, companies will move their operations elsewhere and slowly but surely this will undermine the life science community and lead to a substantial loss of revenue from personal and corporate tax in Denmark and Sweden.
The life science industry is facing major challenges. Research and Development (R&D) costs are escalating and corporate efficiency, measured by the number of new approved drugs per invested resource, has been declining throughout the last decade. Due to the aging population, payers in most countries have to contain costs leading to reduced spending on health care, new medicines and technologies, which negatively affects revenue and profits within the industry. In addition, the life science market dynamics are rapidly changing with new emerging markets gaining ground in the global competition.
In a digitalized world, the actual physical location of various operations becomes less important.  International companies tend to place specific operations where key competencies are present, i.e. jobs are placed where talent is available. Since also physical transportation can be achieved at a low cost, production can be placed far from the consumers, moving job opportunities to low-cost production countries.

If we are to maintain and even grow the local life science sector in the years to come, the key success factor is maintaining and attracting world class talent to the region. Prosperous life science regions around the world - such as Boston, Oxford-Cambridge and the Bay Area in San Francisco - where local companies are growing and significant foreign investments are made, have one thing in common: they have world class talent due to the presence of excellent education and research environments at top-ranked universities. 
The strategic intent for Medicon Valley is to provide the very best framework conditions for attracting talent. This will be done by developing focused research and business environments based on local scientific strongholds. The core will be the establishment of new physical entities where research teams anchored in the local universities and R&D-based companies are focused on ground-breaking cross-disciplinary research funded by private and public research foundations. Such new combinations of strongholds in an environment managed in a private-public and Danish-Swedish collaboration we call Beacons.
A small region such as Medicon Valley cannot be world-leading and internationally attractive in many different areas. Therefore, Medicon Valley ought to focus on a few Beacons that can be scientifically and economically justified. A Beacon should build on already existing scientific strongholds in the region which, by combining their efforts, can be benchmarked against the best in the world.
A Beacon should reflect the needs of tomorrow’s life science and thus has to be conscious of future trends and requirements. The Beacons are based on cross-border collaborations - between Sweden and Denmark as well as international collaboration, between private and public organization, and between various disciplines within and outside of life science - thus fostering an environment of open innovation by linking different disciplines and stakeholders.


An extensive evaluation of Medicon Valley performance and existing strongholds has been performed during 2012 in close collaboration with numerous regional stakeholders from the universities, life science industry and public organizations. This resulted in a report prepared by Boston Consulting Group on behalf of MVA. This report is enclosed. We are currently analyzing the potential to develop Beacons in some of these areas, i.e. Large scale bio-based production of chemicals, Healthy mental aging, Independent living, Reproduction biology & techniques, Systems biology, Functional Food and Immune regulation.
Our ultimate goal is that in 2020, three to five Beacons will have been established and achieved international recognition as world class centers of excellence with innovative and productive research with a high degree of scientific publications in the highest ranked international journals, and with cross-disciplinary collaborations between academia, industry and public organizations. These Beacons will fertilize the regional life science environment by creating potential for spin-offs as well as post graduate education. This will contribute to an overall global attractiveness for talents and investors and ensure a sustainable growth in Medicon Valley.

Need for innovation

The major innovative step in this initiative is to create new platforms of collaborations that will lead to novel solutions. We believe that a particular strength and mindset that we have in the Nordic countries is our ability to handle complexity, and this can create a competitive advantage. Both when a combination of high technological techniques and skills are required, and also when cross-border and cross-disciplinary collaborations can lead to innovative solutions. We want to explore and develop this aspect by combining existing scientific strongholds, expertise and stakeholders in novel ways. By creating physical centers and bringing people together that normally would not meet, we believe we can create the prerequisites for innovative environments.


The life science industry in Medicon Valley, has a long tradition of high quality research embedded in a unique environment of Swedish and Danish culture. This region is home to several large pharmaceutical and medtech companies as well as dozens of small and medium-sized start-ups surrounded by several excellent public research institutions. The main driving force behind clustering of companies and public organizations in a region like Medicon Valley is the accessibility to a shared pool of high class talent with the right experience, competency and attitude to perform groundbreaking research and entrepreneurship.
However, today many separate projects and initiatives are ongoing, often in silos without collaboration and thereby missing important opportunities to create synergies. There is also very limited collaboration across disciplines leading to many missed opportunities for innovative solutions.
In addition we believe there is a great potential in increased coordination between Danish and Swedish strongholds in order to extract maximum value from our regional efforts.

Long-term effects

By establishing a number of world-leading life science centers we will increase our regional attractivity for global talents and investors. This will create a positive loop since talents usually attract mote talents, and the research quality increases further. We know from our interactions with the large pharmaceutical industry that access to talents and world-class science is the number one deciding aspect when locating R&D activities, and attracting large Pharmaceutical industry must be a top priority since they represent the major driving force in a successful life science environment, and provide a significant contribution to our society in the form of jobs and taxes.

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Senest opdateret 05. marts 2013