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Field: Strukturomvandling

A method to track the development of the business population in the life science sector

Growth analysis has been commissioned to explore and propose a method to track the development of the business population in the life science sector. This method should facilitate international comparisons of the population. The problem underlying the assignment is the inadequacy of the SNI4 codes in the official statistics to identify this business population. The business population in the life science sector is usually broken down into three subsectors: pharmaceutical and medical device companies as well as biotechnology companies offering products that promote human health.

Within the framework of our assignment, we have:

  • Evaluated an existing method that Vinnova and Growth analysis developed and used for 20 years to track the development of the business population in Sweden. This method identifies life science companies in official statistics and through other sources.
  • Obtained input from a range of different actors who work with data regarding the business population or who have an interest in using data.
  • Analysed the possibilities of conducting international comparisons.
  • Investigated the possibilities of using new data sources, tools and ways of working in the implementation of the method.

Our proposal in brief

Our conclusion is that the existing method should be used and developed further within a public-private partnership between the government, the industry and regions. We recommend that the government assume overall ownership of the method through instructional control of an appropriate implementing authority5. In the implementation and further development of the method, the authority should cooperate with industry organisations, and regional actors should be invited to participate in the project.

The government, the industry and regions should manage the project in collaboration to ensure reliability of the method, data and analysis, and data should be updated annually to ensure continuity in the work. Additionally, Statistics Sweden can be hired to produce basic analyses based on the updated company population. With the proposed method, certain international comparisons of business populations can be made. Detailed international comparisons will require development of the method.

The approach is a long-term sustainable solution that, based on the conditions in Sweden, creates good prospects for producing high quality data. The solution lays the foundation for a national consensus regarding the business population within the life science sector, which in turn enables discussions and collaborations regarding strategically important analyses.

A method to track the development of the business population in the life science sector

Serial number: PM 2020:18

Reference number: 2020/175

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