Medicon Village: A place for startups and scaleups
Medicon Village is a science park based in Lund with a mission to provide an environment for life science by integrating research, innovation and industry all under one roof. It includes 1600 people and over 120 organisations at one site, and is still growing. Medicon Village is owned by Mats Paulsson Foundation for Research, Innovation and Societal Development, and any profits are reinvested in research and innovation.
Back in 2010, AstraZeneca closed its research facilities in Lund and relocated to Gothenburg, leaving behind an 80,000 sq m site of buildings, equipment and infrastructure. After much negotiation and collaboration, this became the Medicon Village science park, with the first organisations on site by the beginning of 2012. By the time it reached its sixth birthday in January 2018, Medicon Village had over 120 organisations on site, and 1600 people – more than were employed there in AstraZeneca's day.
"Medicon Village science park provides a fantastic environment for growth and collaboration," said Kerstin Jakobsson, executive vice president, business development at Medicon Village. "People can bump into each other and share ideas. I have seen several companies formed around a coffee table."
Building on science and innovation – the triple helix
By bringing together Lund University, Skåne University Hospital and the regional healthcare authority, and companies from one-person startups to international players, Medicon Village is an example of what is described as the triple helix – the teamwork between academia, government and industry. This provides an environment for innovation. What Medicon Village adds to this, however, is the opportunity for collaboration at all levels.
"Everyone talks about collaboration, but at Medicon Village it is really happening. Researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs meet and share experiences and services," said Jakobsson.
How it works: The day-to-day practicalities
Medicon Village can provide companies with access to laboratories, meeting rooms, and office space. These can be shared spaces, rented as required, for small startups, or allocated to individual companies as they grow.
"The availability of space means that start ups and small companies don't need to make investment in infrastructure early on," said Jakobsson.
This sharing economy has benefits for the people too. Many startups begin with just one or two people, and this can be an isolating environment. By sharing space, people in large and small companies can meet each other and create both social and business networks.
Medicon Village sets up social and skill-based meetings and conferences. For example, during 2018, these will include a national conference on advanced therapy medicinal conferences, a meeting for a wider collaboration in the cancer area between researchers and companies, and a meeting on the future of Swedish and Danish Life Science. These will bring in people from both Medicon Village and from academia, healthcare and industry.
The companies based at Medicon Village aren't all research-based; the site hosts finance, legal and marketing companies, which can interact with and provide support as part of the triple helix. Medicon Village also has the benefit of being part of Medicon Valley, within the Öresund region, and is nearby the European Spallation Source (ESS), the MAX IV Laboratory and Ideon Science Park. The site also includes the SmiLe Incubator, an incubator that helps entrepreneurs and early-stage companies develop and commercialize new ideas in life science.
The future of Medicon Village
Medicon Village is a place for startups. But it is also a place for companies that scale up, grow and become international. The park is home to 19 companies that are listed on the stock market, and these raised more than SKK1 billion in 2017. To meet the need for these growing companies, as well as to provide homes for more startups, Medicon Village is in the midst of a building project.
The new complex will be ready in 2019, housing around 600 people from one-person startups in shared or temporary workspaces through to larger companies of up to 100 people. It will also include a café and bar open to the site and general public.
"We see this as an evolution of the site, as it will provide space for companies as they grow and require more room and their own facilities. This means companies can remain on the same site from the beginning, though scaleup and beyond," said Erik Jagesten, head of Medicon Village facilities.