Life Science digital maturity - where do we go from here?

Submitted by Tobias Abe Ahy on 09 October 2022


Life science as a field is changing rapidly. Where the natural sciences, pharmacy, and medicine played a large role in the past, engineering, data management, and interfaces have become increasingly important. From the wet lab bench to the virtual in silico environment, both experiments and analysis have evolved. Through collaborations like the ClusterXchange project BRIGHT, we learn both the similarities and differences in these developments, which we can bring into our ecosystem to assist the necessary system transformation.

After dialogues with industry representatives and survey collection in the Uppsala HealthTech ecosystem, we have learned about some trends, challenges, and needs that we see will be decisive for our success in the digital field.

The strongest trends are that we see more and more companies that are "born digital", although the SMEs that use digital solutions and data to "make life easier" still dominate. All these actors contribute new solutions to old problems, which is challenging and makes it difficult for customers, but creates opportunities where we were previously stuck in old ruts. At the same time, we see and know that there will be more and more regulations in the area and those who were once naive to regulations will face challenges.

Regarding challenges, we see a great deal of competition regarding competence within the "new" required skills. It is a given that those who possess these have not previously been abundant within the system, that they come from other sectors or industries, or perhaps from somewhere else, which is why the question we have to ask ourselves is: why would they want to work in life science and why in our city? These new competencies also risk bringing about a culture clash, not least in relation to regulations and quality work. Furthermore, the market, above all healthcare, is not ready for these new services and products. They will need to understand their own needs, how new solutions can help them, as well as provide budgets and create reimbursement systems for these.

This leads to the importance of identifying the needs we should highlight and respond to. Skills and lifelong learning are crucial, especially the relationship to the fact that knowledge is a fresh commodity. At the same time, the understanding, acceptance, and willingness to work with policy-related issues in relation to our guidelines and regulations become increasingly important. User acceptance of change and new tools, as well as leadership's ability to encourage continued acceptance, will be critical. Finally, the needs of customers, such as health care, must also change to understand and identify their evolving needs that can be solved with new technology.

This journey is exciting, probably equally important in all comparable countries, and it is something that we can solve collaboratively all while learning from each other. There will be many lessons to be had from our counterparts in other clusters, making initiatives like BRIGHT all the more relevant.

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