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Theme: winning the war on cancer

There is a war on cancer and now, for the first time ever we see an opportunity for winning.

Five world class clusters

If you are looking for great future companies, it is always a good idea to start looking for great universities.

The story of Silicon Valley began when the university decided to help its students stay and start companies locally instead of moving to the east coast. The Second World War had created an aviation industry that that needed instrumentation . And so Silicon Valley started to happen.

The interaction between academic education, academic research, capital, government support, finance, entrepreneurs and big companies provides a breeding ground for innovation and new companies. Sometimes it is called triple helix, sometimes dynamic innovation systems but mostly just cluster.

When we started looking at Scandinavian cancer research we found not one but five.

Copenhagen, Oslo, Lund-Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm-Uppsala.

This limited geographical area is a hotbed of cancer research, and it is easy to see why.

Global position in number of diagnosed cancer cases

clusters Source: World Cancer Research Fund

All three countries have long traditions of medical research, good public healthcare and close cooperation between the two sectors. When Michael Porter talks about the comparative advantages of countries he usually mentions that Denmark is the world leader in hearing aids. That is not because Danes are more afflicted than others or because they are better at making them, it’s just because Denmark was the first country in the world where you could get a paid hearing aid on your health insurance. That created an advantage for Danish makers of hearing aids that the rest of the world has not yet caught up with.

This is something Scandinavians are very good at, close cooperation between public and private sectors.

Also, we are wealthy nations, our universities are good and since we are healthy people that live long, we are more afflicted with cancer. Denmark is the number one country in the world for cancer with 338 cases per 100 000 inhabitants yearly. Norway is number five with 318 cases, Sweden number 24 with 270.

To be Scandinavian generally means to be happy, secure and healthy but it also means to be a bit more exposed to the threat of cancer.

Here we take a closer look at what is happening in these five clusters, Copenhagen, Oslo, Lund-Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm-Uppsala and some of the most interesting new companies emerging in them.