SWEDEN: Largest research life sciences area

A consortium of three universities along with city and regional authorities and four private companies have announced plans to build the world's largest area for research in the life sciences.

Professor Kåre Bremer, Rector of Stockholm University, presented the planning on behalf of the three universities - his own, Karolinska Institute, and the Royal Institute of Technology - to a meeting in Stockholm. All are participants in Stockholm Science City, a foundation to promote advancement of sciences and collaboration between universities and industry.

The area is named Karolinska-Norra Stationsområde. Under the plans, 50 billion SEK (EUR5.5 billion or US$7 billion) will be invested until 2025 in laboratories, technology platforms, offices and teaching facilities covering more than 100,00 square metres.

Already 60% of Swedish private enterprises in biotechnology are located in the area. Negotiations are ongoing to include Uppsala University further north of Stockholm in the project.

The core research facilities will be the New Karolinska University Hospital, to be built 2010-2015, which will give Sweden the most modern university hospital in Europe, and the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab). This is a national resource centre for large-scale bioscience research including biomedicine, genome and proteome profiling, microbioimaging and bioinformatics.

Major illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart and lung diseases are targeted. The Swedish government has allocated a major part of its research infrastructure budget for 2009 to the project and the SciLifeLab will be launched with 75 people working there in 2010 and 220 projected for 2012.