Gothenburg offers good opportunities for EU agency

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is a European Union body that evaluates and authorises medicinal products within the European Union and the EEA, and is currently located in London's Canary Wharf. The UK's recent vote to leave the EU raises the question of whether the EMA can stay where it is, or whether it must move its headquarters to another EU member state. Several countries have shown interest in hosting the EMA, including Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Ireland, Malta, Spain, and Austria. Sweden’s – and especially Gothenburg’s – strong position within innovation, life science and clinical research makes it a good candidate for hosting this European agency.
Gothenburg offers good opportunities for EU agency

"The choice is obvious when it is time for the EMA to relocate" say Patrik Andersson, CEO of Business Region Göteborg, to Swedish daily newspaper Göteborgs-Posten.

The Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg, had previously expressed Sweden’s interest in taking over as host country in the future. The Swedish Medical Products Agency, Läkemedelsverket, has a good international reputation and is currently the most sought after agency for scientific investigations carried out under the EMA.

We see many reasons for and benefits from a potential relocation of the EMA to Gothenburg. With one of the country’s highest percentages of life science employees holding an MD/PhD, the region is at the forefront of both clinical and translational research, and has become one of the leading centres for clinical trials in Sweden.

Gothenburg’s world-class excellence in scientific research is evident in the large number of international companies – as well as colleges, universities, science parks and seed companies – found in our region today. Gothenburg is ranked 12th among the world’s most innovative cities according to Forbes business magazine’s survey on patents per capita. One important factor behind Gothenburg’s high positions in several rankings is the region’s many knowledge-based companies.

Iris Öhrn, Establishment Advisor in Life Science, Business Region Göteborg, sees many benefits from a potential relocation of the EMA to Sweden and Gothenburg. AstraZeneca, the largest pharmaceutical company in Sweden, has one of its three global R&D centres in Mölndal, Gothenburg, which has seen extensive consolidation over the past four years.

Sahlgrenska University Hospital, with over 17,000 employees, is the largest healthcare facility and accident and emergency unit in Northern Europe. With national commissions in several fields and wide recognition for its outstanding clinical research, Sahlgrenska University Hospital forms the centrepiece of a cluster of related organisations, including Sahlgrenska Academy, Chalmers University of Technology, Sahlgrenska Science Park and several public and private sector companies all located in close proximity to each other. We are firmly convinced that Gothenburg would make an ideal candidate to host the European Medicines agency.

Moving a large EU agency to Gothenburg requires stable infrastructure, something that is already in place. We are home to several global companies, including Volvo AB (HQ), CEVT, Volvo Cars (HQ), SKF (HQ), Dentsply Sirona and Ericsson. In total, about 3,000 foreign-owned companies with some 80,000 employees operate in the Gothenburg region today. Furthermore, extensive investments are being made in infrastructure and urban development. During 2014, SEK 47 billion was invested in housing and office space in the Gothenburg region. Leading up to 2035, investments will amount to over SEK 1,000 billion.

Gothenburg is an obvious choice that meets the EMA's requirements. Locating an EU agency in Gothenburg and West Sweden would also even out the distorted distribution of agencies, which the government wants to discourage, as pointed out in the letter to the editor. 

We wish everyone could focus on the overall benefits and advantages for the Swedish economy and the country’s international competitiveness. This type of strategic and high-quality establishment would be an engine for attracting more companies, competence, clinical research and R&D investments to Sweden. 

“We want to be a part of Sweden's bid and look forward to continued constructive discussions with the government about Gothenburg’s contribution to the Swedish candidature,” say Johnny Magnusson (Moderate Party), President of the Regional Executive Board of Västra Götaland, and Ann-Sofie Hermansson (Social Democratic Party), President of the City Executive Board of Gothenburg, among others.

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