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Stockholm insights

World-class Life Science in Stockholm

15 minUpdated: 19 April, 2024
Karolinska university hospitalPhoto: Felix Gerlach / imagebanksweden.se

Stockholm combines world-class research institutions with a dynamic network of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Our region is committed to innovation and the collaboration between academia, industry and the public sector puts it at the forefront of global advances in healthcare.

Stockholm combines world-class research institutions with a dynamic network of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Our region is committed to innovation and the collaboration between academia, industry and the public sector puts it at the forefront of global advances in healthcare.

The life science industry has grown increasingly strong and Stockholm has established itself as a major international player in the industry. The Greater Stockholm region accounts for about half of the employment in the traditional life science sector in Sweden and 55% of all life science companies are located in the region.

As a country, Sweden is known for pioneering research and innovation in precision medicine, advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMP) and clinical trials in particular, with a strong network of incubators, leading research universities and SMEs. Supported by unique national registries, personal ID-numbers (since 1947), health data monitoring and robust research infrastructure, Sweden has demonstrated the ability to transform multidisciplinary research into products and commercial growth.

Sweden's exports of pharmaceuticals continue to break new records year after year and the industry has become a key industry for the country's economy. In 2023, Sweden exported pharmaceuticals worth 152.5 billion, which corresponds to 7 percent of the country's total exports and makes it the second largest export sector.

Facts about Sweden:

  • #2 The most innovative country in EU (Innovation scoreboard, 2023)
  • #9 Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023 (INSEAD, 2023)
  • #5 Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2023 (INSEAD 2023)
  • #5 Corruption Perceptions Index (TI, 2022)
  • #10 Number of patent applications globally (EPO, 2022)

Stockholm's strengths

With an innovative, growing ecosystem and a goal-oriented business culture, the Stockholm region is ranked as the most knowledge-intensive region outside the US in the world. The region has set ambitious goals, one of which is to become the world's most innovation-driven economy by 2025.

Swedish chemist and businessman Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm in 1833, and today his legacy is still celebrated throughout the city. The links between Nobel and Stockholm's famous spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and academic research are still very strong today.

Stockholm has a long tradition of research and development in life sciences. It is home to companies (global, SMEs and start-ups), six universities and three university hospitals.

A globally strong innovation cluster:

  • #4 The most innovative region in Europe (Regional innovation Scoreboard, European Comission, 2023)
  • #2 Number of Tech Unicorns per capita globally 2020 (State of European Tech 2022 by Atomico)
  • #5 Europe’s largest start-up hubs (EU-startups.com, 2023)
Photo: Jan Lipka, Image Bank Sweden.
Photo: Henrik Trygg

Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm is one of Europe's leading healthcare institutions. The hospital is ranked 7th in the world in 2024 based on its ability to deliver the highest quality patient care, conduct critical research and attract top talent. The internationally respected medical university Karolinska Institutet conducts world-leading basic, translational and clinical research. It works in close collaboration with Karolinska University Hospital, and together the two institutions have achieved major medical breakthroughs in a range of fields.

Other universities that are of great importance to industry include KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden's largest and most respected technical university), Stockholm University and Uppsala University.

Hagastaden - A small area with great ambitions

Hagastaden is a vibrant cluster in the middle of Stockholm and home to over 150 life science companies (a 100% increase since 2010). The area offers a mix of businesses, research, meeting places, restaurants and housing. The neighborhood has a dense and varied urban structure, with buildings that are taller than what has previously been common in the Stockholm cityscape.

Since 2009, intensive work has been underway to develop the district as a place for life science research and business. The vision is to create the world's leading area for life science.

Companies setting up in Stockholm here can benefit from the synergies between three universities: Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm University and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Together they have around 100 000 students.

Within walking distance:

  • Two hospitals
  • Eight state agencies
  • Four universities
  • More than 150 life science companies
  • Specialised research facilities
  • Support to start-ups and SMEs

Science for Life Laboratory

In the area you will also find Science for Life Laboratory, one of Europe's largest molecular biology research laboratories and is a joint initiative between four of the top-ranked academic institutions in Scandinavia (Karolinska Institutet, KTH Royal Institute of Technology Kungliga Tekniska högskolan, Stockholm University Stockholms universitet, and Uppsala University Uppsala universitet).

A map with companies in the region

The expert organization Stockholm Science City, whose ambition is to strengthen the competitiveness of the Stockholm region in Life Science, provides an interactive map of companies operating in the industry. You can filter by name, sector (Medtech,Biotech, Pharmaceutical and Service) and business category (Marketing & Sales, Manufacturing and Research & Development).

Life science map | Stockholm Science City (ssci.se)

NUMBER OF VC INVESTMENTS 2023

Health tops the list of sectors in the region that are of most interest to investors.

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