Maximising Impact: EIT Health Scandinavia's Role in Advancing Healthcare Innovation During Sweden's EU Presidency


As Sweden assumed the Presidency of the Council of the EU on January 1, 2023, the spotlight turned to Sweden’s efforts in various sectors. Under the EU Swedish Presidency the focus was set on resilience, pandemic response, mental health, health data, and addressing health inequalities.

During the presidency EIT Health Scandinavia has emerged as a player to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and policy discussions in the healthcare domain. Here are some of the noteworthy activities undertaken by EIT Health Scandinavia, with a particular emphasis on our involvement in the implementation of the European Health Data Space (EHDS) and digital health.

EIT Health Summit 2022: The EIT Health Summit held in May 2022 served as a crucial starting point for us. We engaged with diverse healthcare stakeholders in Sweden, capturing their perspectives on the opportunities presented by the presidency and the implementation of EHDS. Through this mapping exercise, it became apparent who should lead the implementation efforts, setting the stage for future collaboration and action.

Photo from the seminar
From the round table seminar inside Forskaren.

Preparatory meetings and opinion pieces before the Swedish EU Presidency commenced, we proactively sought insights from Swedish and French governments, learning from their experiences in the healthcare domain during previous presidencies. This groundwork culminated in an opinion piece published in Dagens Medicin. Timely released at the beginning of the year, the article urged stakeholders to seize the unique opportunity and prioritise health data on the agenda, highlighting the potential for accelerated change both in Sweden and the broader EU.

In collaboration with LIF, the trade association for the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden, and The Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies (SIEPS), we organised a breakfast meeting together with Narva. During this gathering, our Managing Director Annika Szabo-Portela emphasised the importance of collaboration and collective efforts in driving EHDS implementation forward.

Subsequently, a meeting in Brussels with the Stockholm Region EU Office further emphasised the need for a proposal that addresses key aspects such as realistic timeframes, infrastructure investments, staff requirements, data quality, and regional-level inclusion. These discussions shed light on the potential impact of EHDS on research and innovation in the healthcare ecosystem, prompting further considerations for a joint implementation process.

Our impact extended beyond policy discussions and advocacy. Annika Szabo-Portela was featured in MSD's Voices of Pharma, a thought leadership series by a former EIT Health partner, where she provided insights on High Value Care and the crucial role of health data. This engagement not only showcased our expertise but also contributed to shaping industry perspectives on the importance of data-driven healthcare.

Photo of Forskaren
Forskaren is still under construction.

As the Swedish EU Presidency nears its conclusion, we will continue to pave the way for the future. This Tuesday, in connection to the EU Presidency Conference on Life Sciences – the Era of Personalised Medicine on June 26-27, EIT Health Scandinavia, Swedish Medtech and Elekta hosted an official side event Empowering Patients through Health Data: Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges of the EHDS

– a seminar and a round table hosted by Swedish Medtech and EIT Health Scandinavia. moderated by Andreas Namslauer and Filippa Kull, from Stockholm Science City. The event served as an opportunity for stakeholders to explore the feasibility of implementing EHDS. The first session focused on how the patient can be strengthened and helped by a betted use of health data. The second part was one  out of ten  roundtable meeting with 15 different stakeholders covering the whole life science  healthcare ecosystem. It’s part of EIT Health’s pan-European multi-stakeholder initiative focusing on EHDS taking place across Europe . The initiative is guided by a Steering Committee led by Andrzej Rys, Principal Scientific Advisor at DG SANTE, European Commission and our Swedish representative in the Steering Committee Clara Hellner, Director of Research and Innovation, Region Stockholm who both participated at the event. The event was held at the state-of-the-art "Forskaren" Stockholm’s new life science centre, adjacent to Karolinska University Hospital, provided inspiration for colleagues around Europe. The insights from the roundtable discussions will be collected in a report that will be published at the end of the year and will provide an overall picture from EU member states of obstacles and opportunities for the upcoming implementation of EHDS.

Sweden's EU Presidency has shown progress in the healthcare sector, driven by a commitment to resilience, digitalisation, and equality. Through strategic engagements, opinion pieces, and industry collaborations, we believe we have left a lasting mark on the implementation of EHDS and the broader healthcare agenda. As the baton is now passed to Spain as they assume the EU presidency on 1 July, EIT Health’s influence will undoubtedly continue, driving thought leadership and championing the use of data-driven healthcare.

Wising you a nice summer and good luck in Almedalen and we look forward to continuing the dialogue.