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Iris Öhrn

Why Gothenburg can lead the new healthcare revolution

As the healthcare industry undergoes sweeping change, interest in digital health and healthtech is growing rapidly. Many of the industry’s key players and startups are set to take part in Vitalis, Scandinavia's largest eHealth event, held in Gothenburg on 24-26 April.  

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For this year’s event, Business Region Göteborg has stepped up its efforts to showcase the region and its companies. Among other things it has co-arranged an investment seminar, a large matchmaking event, delegation visits and networking activities, as well as an exhibition stand. Iris Öhrn, life science and healthcare investment advisor at Business Region Göteborg, is part of the team participating in Vitalis.     

Why is digital health and healthtech gaining so much interest from companies and investors?

“Changing demographics are demanding healthcare reforms. We are talking about rising healthcare costs, an ageing population, increasing chronic conditions, a growing middle class in developing countries and an increase in lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes,” explains Iris Öhrn.

“Furthermore, patient expectations in combination with a global shortage of clinicians and caregivers has fuelled what we all call the new healthcare revolution. Digital technologies are giving patients, providers, payers, and life science companies new tools as never before.”

“A clear sign is the fact that venture capital funding in the global healthcare tech sector is climbing and shows no signs of slowing. In a few years, we will see a healthcare industry that is predictive, preventive, participatory and personalised.”



What are some of the developments and trends you are noticing in the region?

“Healthcare authorities in West Sweden, just as in the rest of the world, want to find new ways to provide more consistent care to patients outside of the traditional office visit. We have noticed it in the increased number of new online health care services, devices and apps that are currently in use for managing many of our most common chronic conditions.”

“Many of the global pharmaceutical companies we have regular contact with have also realized that the computers, iphones, apple watches and similar gadgets people carry and wear are useful tools for recruiting people for clinical trials.”

“Don’t be surprised if you see at this year’s Vitalis a high number of pharmaceutical and biotech companies looking for companion diagnostics, digital health devices and artificial intelligence-based products for drug discovery.”


What are the region’s strengths when it comes to digital health?

“The Swedish government has devoted a lot of effort to the goal and vision that in 2025, Sweden will be best in the world at using the opportunities offered by digitisation and eHealth. We are already world leaders when it comes to healthcare, with almost 100 National Quality registries. We are also considered an ideal test market: the average person in Sweden has a Smartphone, a laptop, a digital camera, and many even a smart watch.”

“In West Sweden, you will find everything needed to succeed within easy reach: the largest healthcare facility in northern Europe, a strong engineering and ICT cluster, and one of Europe’s largest clinical research hot spots. We also have several testbeds offering good possibilities to test new healthcare products and services. At the same time, companies like AstraZeneca, Volvo, Ericsson and IBM are making efforts to strengthen collaborations with emerging growth companies, academia and the authorities within this area. That’s why we have organised for the first time at Vitalis a large digital health matchmaking and a seminar that will shine a spotlight on innovation and investment in digital health.”


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