Swedish science bounces back

Mergers, acquisitions and restructuring are par for the course in the pharmaceutical industry. Markets grow and shrink, new treatments are developed and corporate priorities change. Jobs are created, moved and lost. This came as no comfort to the 600 people left out of work when AstraZeneca shut down its research facility in Lund, Sweden, in 2011. As the ripples spread, some saw it as the latest in a series of blows signalling the death of a local industry.

Seven years on, and although Sweden’s pharmaceutical sector has yet to recover, those taking a wider view see a more positive picture emerging. Major new materials-science facilities in Lund are expected to open up prospects in a wide range of fields.

“AstraZeneca left a big black hole in a small country,” says Tina Persson, a career coach in Stockholm. “My feeling is that things are growing again, but it’s a new environment with lots of start-ups and innovative small companies. Those looking for work in the sector need to understand how the culture has changed so they can best find where their skills are in demand.”

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