Last week, the Swedish Riksdag (parliament) made the formal decision that gave the go-ahead for the IVI to set up an office in Stockholm. This is good news and will mean that Sweden will strengthen its position as a leading actor in the global health and life sciences field. Once established, IVI will add to and complement our ever-growing life science ecosystem comprised of leading universities, innovative and successful enterprises, modern infrastructure and support structures, authorities such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and newcomers like UNICEF’S global innovation office in Stockholm.
For some time now, IVI has looked to Sweden as a potential base for its European office. Since inception in 1997, the institute has been based in South Korea, and its office in Stockholm will be the first outside the country. The Stockholm office will work mainly with matters relating to vaccine research and development, with a focus on increasing vaccine coverage around the world, primarily in Africa. The office, which will operate closely with both the public and private sectors in Sweden and the rest of Europe, is described as a future hub of research, innovation, and cooperation.
Karolinska Institutet has been an active party in the planning process. We have had a number of discussions with IVI representatives over the past year or so and have identified several areas of mutual interest. The depth and range of these discussions bode well for future collaborations. Effective vaccine development and adequate vaccine coverage are needed if we are to approach the vision in our Strategy 2030: that we strive for a better health for all.
I am convinced that many Swedish universities and organizations will stand to benefit from the establishment of IVI´s European office.
The next step
The decision by Riksdagen means that the next step can now be taken: finding a physical location for the office. My hope is that IVI will be localized on or next to one of our campuses. This matter is to be sorted out just after the summer, and I know that discussions on different options are going on at this very moment.
The IVI is part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and was set up to develop and distribute vaccines in the interests of global health, focusing on poor nations. 36 UN member states are behind the initiative and Sweden has, via Sida, supported its work with grants for the past 20 years or so.