COLLABORATION. Both hospital director Ann-Marie Wennberg and deputy dean Eric Hanse feel that the pilot study for Sahlgrenska Life is inspiring. They are both in agreement that the environments we are now creating to gather together research, innovation, education and healthcare can give us a nationally leading Life Science campus.
This is not the first time that this major idea has been on the table – linking Medicinareberget and Sahlgrenska’s hospital area closer with each other through new buildings. But this time, the starting point is better. The project is now not governed by the desire to create new buildings, but it is instead clear that the intended buildings are a means to achieve joint objectives, where the vision is to create a world-leading translational center.
The major consensus around the Sahlgrenska Life collaborative project became clear when dean Eva Wiberg and regional director Ann-Sofie Lodin recently received the pilot study, when it was submitted to the project owners, the University of Gothenburg and Region Västra Götaland. Even between the most closely concerned entities, Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital, there is very good consensus. I arranged a meeting with deputy dean Eric Hanse and hospital director Ann-Marie Wennberg for them to give me their thoughts on the conditions for the continued work with Sahlgrenska Life.
A cooperation project
“The regional director usually states that Sahlgrenska Life is not a construction project, and I really agree with that. The buildings are only important in so much as they can help us reach our goals,” begins Ann-Marie Wennberg, and continues:
“We want to continue the work with linking healthcare with research, education and business in creative and natural environments. Sahlgrenska Life can easily be a win-win-win for healthcare, research and education. It can be an environment with potential for the exponential development for all these parts, with the patients’ best interests at the heart of our focus.”
Both the regional director and the university’s rector received the report from the pilot study with the same positive first impression. The collaboration is also strengthened by the clear definitions of which healthcare is a joint consideration for the university and the region.
“We are based around university healthcare, which is part of the healthcare designed to meet the needs of research and education. University healthcare has only been defined relatively recently, and we want to build our collaboration within Sahlgrenska Life around a core of this part of healthcare,” says Eric Hanse.
Strong can become stronger
Eric Hanse is convinced that Sahlgrenska Life gives us the chance to create Sweden’s strongest campus within Life Science:
“We have received several indications recently to show that things are already going well here in Gothenburg, with great placement in the rankings and huge donations from key financiers such as VR and KAW. We are all together, both physically and organisationally, in a way that gives us advantages when compared with the situations in Stockholm.”
One key objective with Sahlgrenska Life is to create a better transfer of relevant issues, research cooperation and new knowledge between healthcare and academia. Another aim is to contribute to national development and growth, where collaboration with AstraZeneca, Mölnlycke HealthCare, Getinge and other companies will increase the attraction power and bring key competencies to Gothenburg:
“We will have a collaboration platform in the middle of the campus village, in the middle of the hospital and in the middle of academia, which links healthcare patients with education, research and innovation,” says Ann-Marie Wennberg.
Eric Hanse agrees:
“By combining businesses, we can make better and more efficient use of the premises, but it is primarily when it comes to integration between different areas that we can obtain truly great synergies.”
As an example, Eric states how researchers in rheumatology will have significantly better opportunities to get to know those working in pathology, microbiology, metabolism, cancer and entirely different fields. Sahlgrenska Life will improve the interactions between researchers in various fields, which will also increase the significance of infrastructures for clinical research, such as registers, bioinformation and biobanks.
Obstacles to overcome
The completed and presented pilot study is just the first step on a long journey. It is a major and complicated project, with many challenges that need to be managed both for the region and the university, but neither Eric nor Ann-Marie have any doubt that these obstacles will be overcome.
“One definite challenge for us at the hospital is that all operations must, of course, continue as normal during the construction period. But we have a high level of competence needed within the various fields in order to drive the project forwards together with the other regional and academic actors,” says Ann-Marie.
The reported pilot study now forms the basis for discussions on how the work should progress. The next step of preparations is that Västra Götaland Region politicians will discuss the issue in their forum. If both the University of Gothenburg and Region Västra Götaland make the decision to go forward and proceed, a new phase of the construction process will commence, and a new steering committee will then be appointed. This phase, called the program phase, will be introduced at the earliest in spring 2018.
FIVE QUICK FACTS FOR THE PILOT STUDY FOR SAHLGRENSKA LIFE:
- Sahlgrenska Life is a collaboration project to create a gathering meeting place for all actors within the life science sector in Västra Götaland.
- At the core of Sahlgrenska Life is translational clusters, where different categories of experts in healthcare, research and business collaborate on specific patient groups and general common issues.
- Around this core are powerful support functions which accelerate and support research, information retrieval, the transfer of skills, clinical trials and the development of new therapies.
- The vision for Sahlgrenska Life is to be a center for world-leading translational research, healthcare, education and innovation. In order to achieve this vision, new buildings are needed both around and over Per Dubbsgatan, which links Sahlgrenska University Hospital with Medicinareberget.
- The pilot study recommends that Region Västra Götaland and the University of Gothenburg decide to enter into the next phase and begin a program stage. The project is then recommended to be run as a joint development project in close collaboration with property owners and construction managers.
Here you can read (documents available in Swedish only):
- the pilot study report: https://gubox.box.com/s/72r4fxdwfk9aaf30dqj80jgla3qwetsp
- A report on translational clusters: https://gubox.box.com/s/h4p5cor82gv56io7y9e94wzcgjj3e0sj
- The local program Sahlgrenska Life Färdighetscentrum [Skills Center]: https://gubox.box.com/s/3jsr8ethn737e6akgedd1jcagxybkfja
- Local program Sahlgrenska Life (Excel file): https://gubox.box.com/s/y7gzxuss2p2otd7uuxq4juw3oefeu0o0
TEXT AND PHOTO: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN