UBI launched the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)-backed project in 2019, with the goal of building a dynamic life science industry in Umeå. The project is financed by Umeå Municipality, Region Västerbotten, Umeå University, and The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth via the ERDF.
The project’s long-term goal is for local life science companies to employ 1,000 people and have a combined turnover of SEK 1.5 billion by the year 2030.
“It may sound like a crazy goal, but the fact is we are well on track to achieving it. Since 2019 the number of life science industry jobs in the region has increased by 17 percent annually, and total turnover has tripled from SEK 200 million to SEK 600 million”, says Jennie Ekbeck.
Cutting-edge research behind success in Umeå
Life science companies in Umeå have also attracted approximately SEK 800 million in capital since 2019. Just this spring an American company invested SEK 270 million in Umeå-based Betagenon.
“It is proof that cutting-edge research in combination with well-run companies can bring investment capital to Umeå. When we started the project we were often told that it would never reach our high goals. Overall progress has happened in bursts, which proves you have to build steadily and for the long term in order to create change”, says Jennie.
Under Jennie’s leadership, the regional fund project has created a number of collaborations, meeting places and networks such as the life science pub, the CEO network, the QA network and the labor market day as just a few examples.
“We love synergy effects. If we are to succeed it is necessary we cooperate and benefit from each other’s skills. We are convinced that one plus one equals at least three, and at UBI we work with a pay-it-forward mentality that we hope will spread throughout the industry”, she says.
The ‘Life Science Motorn 2.0’ (Motor = Engine) was awarded the best development project in Västerbotten 2023 in the category “A region with localized sustainable business development” at a ceremony on Wednesday night at Mötesplats Västerbotten in Lycksele. UBI’s Jennie Ekbeck was there to accept the award – one of her last assignments before stepping down as CEO on June 9th.
“I’ve managed to finish on a high! This is a recognition of the work we have done with the life science engine. At UBI we are so happy that Umeå’s life science industry is booming”, she says.
“The project really justifies its name”
Regional Academy associate researchers Lena Hedman Rahm and Peter Hedman evaluated a large number of local and national fund projects and described the ‘Life Science Motorn 2.0’ as a well-structured and implemented project.
“The project is a successful example of how structural fund resources can be used to contribute to developing an industry that we both hope and believe others can take part in and learn from. By setting long-term goals and clear milestones along the way, time-limited projects become more focused and thus have a greater opportunity to quickly achieve their set goals and results in the short term. This promotes development that provides a boost for the entire industry, say Lena and Peter.
They continue: “UBI has listened to the needs of companies and brought them together for the development of the industry. Creating a community with different types of meeting places, that shares resources and communicates what is happening in the Umeå life science scene and the region as a whole contributes to building the entire industry. Because of this, the project really justifies its name of being an engine for life science in the region”.
ABOUT REGIO STARS VÄSTERBOTTEN
* Presented awards this year in four different categories to development projects linked to the regional development strategy.
* The jury consisted of the management group for the Regional Development Administration at Region Västerbotten
* Jury’s comments for UBI’s award ‘Regio Stars Västerbotten 2023’: “Achieved tangible results in the form of industry growth and a heightened focus on sustainability and knowledge-building in the region. Life Science Engine 2.0 puts Västerbotten on the map as a region with localized and sustainable business development”.