“Building a stronger ecosystem builds stronger business… The ecosystem here – how we can tap into it and help strengthen it – is very important to us,” says Matti Ahlqvist, Site Executive Director, Gothenburg at AstraZeneca a Gold Sponsor for this year’s Park Annual event.
Hi Matti, the theme of this year ’s Park Annual event is ”Nordic health innovation: from realization to business.” What does that mean to you?
To be honest, our business is so international these days that the Nordic perspective is not always top of my mind. One thing I do think about is the Nordics’ relatively high levels of trust between people. This translates into higher levels of trust for the authorities and trust that, for example, the health data we share will not be misused. This positively impacts our ability to innovate in the health sector and we could probably make use of this even more. Building on this trust, broader Nordic collaboration on policy issues could improve opportunities to use combined population/patient databases, contribute to more harmonised implementation of new data-driven and precision medicine solutions and improve the entire region’s competitiveness in relation to the global life sciences sector.
Why did AstraZeneca decide to be a gold sponsor of the Park Annual event?
Park Annual is an important forum to make connections between people and organisations in our local community and beyond. It’s a great meeting place for life science companies, academics, innovators, start-ups… to get together and to learn more about, and from, each other.
The reason we decided to be a gold sponsor is because, as we see it, building a stronger ecosystem builds stronger business. We deliberately locate our R&D sites where they can form an important part of thriving life science ecosystems. Gothenburg is one of three strategic R&D centres worldwide. The ecosystem here, how we can tap into it and help strengthen it, is very important to us. We also want to collaborate with Sahlgrenska Science Park to ensure we take a holistic perspective to getting the many parts of the ecosystem working together.
What cool things are happening at AstraZeneca relevant to the Park Annual audience?
There’s so much happening at AstraZeneca right now. We continue to progress our pipeline and deliver strong business results. Our scientific build-up has also been going on with maintained pace, strength and commitment, despite the pandemic. Example areas are cell therapy, AI & data science and building capabilities for oligonucleotides. All of these are strongholds in AstraZeneca Gothenburg.
We are excited about, and putting a lot of effort into, the GoCo initiative, of which we are a partner. Steps are being taken to build and develop GoCo Health Innovation City in and around our Gothenburg site to bring people together and provide mutual opportunities for collaborative innovation. The new Fujirebio building is ready and the new GoCo House, a coworking place for companies and life science, is taking shape.
New companies are moving into the BioVentureHub and we’re increasing our efforts to catalyse even more collaboration between the BioVentureHub companies and AstraZeneca. We’re staffing up Health Works, which is our new patient and healthcare provider co-creation lab on the AstraZeneca premises. We’re developing our internal capabilities in oligonucleotides, and we’ve also been able to attract external funding to build a national research centre for therapeutic oligonucleotides, which is called OligoNova. So, there’s a lot going on!
What’s the most fun part of your job.?
Besides getting to meet and work with so many cool, diverse and inspiring people on a daily basis, the most fun and rewarding part of my job is feeling that I am part of, and contributing to, an ecosystem that is innovating to improve people’s lives around the world. There are many parts of my job that I love, but that’s the thing that really gets me going.
Interview: Jamie Smith