The life sciences sector in Wales is to link with one of Europe’s strongest clusters under a new ‘twinning’ agreement announced today (Monday March 18) that is set to create wide-ranging opportunities and benefits.

Speaking ahead of the BioWales 2013 conference, Economy Minister Edwina Hart said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been agreed between the Welsh Government and Medicon Village, a dynamic hub for research, innovation and entrepreneurship within Life Science in Lund, Sweden.

Medicon Village is at the heart of the acclaimed Medicon Valley – one of Europe’s strongest life science clusters – home to hundreds of businesses and a centre for research institutions, where 40,000 people work in the sector.

The links between Wales and Medicon Village and Medicon Valley were developed last year during an inward investment visit to the region by the Welsh Government. The Valley spans the Greater Copenhagen area in Denmark and the Skåne region of southern Sweden.

“This MoU is designed to bring mutual benefits to businesses and organisations in both regions,” said Edwina Hart.

“I see it as the start of a long term, wide ranging collaboration between Wales, Medicon Village and the wider Medicon Valley region and am pleased to announce that discussions are already under way between Lund and Cardiff Universities.

“Twinning with an internationally renowned Life Science region will help raise international awareness of the sector in Wales and its capabilities – a development the Sector Panel is keen to progress.

“It will provide businesses and research institutions with a unique opportunity to work much closer on an international level with a well-established and strong European life science cluster to find partners, collaborators and investors and help promote international business development. “

Ursula Hultkvist Bengtsson, executive vice president at Medicon Village welcomed the link and Memorandum of Understanding with the Welsh Government.

She said: “This is our first international partnership which we expect will create value for our members together with the important Welsh Life Science cluster. The global health challenges can only be solved by working together and it is important to reach out and collaborate for the benefit of people’s health and wellbeing.”

Ms Bengtsson and Anna Cherouvrier-Hansson, head of business development for Life Sciences at Invest in Skåne, are both speaking at BioWales.

Medicon Village, a member of Medicon Valley, is based in AstraZeneca’s 80,000 m2 former research facility in Lund, where more than 600 people work in medical research, pharmaceuticals, medical technology and biotechnology.

It was only established last year but is already home to more than 70 life science companies as well as Institutions such as the newly established Life Science Foresight Institute and the Swedish Technical Research Institute.

Some 40,000 people work in Medicon Valley, which is home to more than 100 biotech companies with their own R&D, major R&D based pharmaceutical companies, more than 200 medtech companies, 50 relevant service providers, clinical research organisations, contract manufacturing organisations and a dozen experienced life science VCs – all varying in size and specialization.