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The Nordic Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Sector: A Growing Opportunity

The Nordic Life Sciences Boom

Life science is booming in the Nordics, particularly in Denmark and Sweden. Although these are by far the leading life science nations of the region, the biotech sectors in both Finland and Norway are accelerating and contributing to the Nordic region’s status as a life science powerhouse.

Over the past ten years, the life science industry across the Nordics has shown tremendous growth. Despite turbulence in global supply chains due to Covid-19, geopolitical issues and conflict, the industry continues to trend upwards. The Nordic countries are very innovation-focused and have a research-concentrated drug and device development approach. As such, this growth in the Nordics’ biotech industry has been driven by investment from both public and private sectors, with significant government support for research and development.


Denmark and Sweden: A Global Hub

Denmark and Sweden are key to understanding the Nordic life science boom. Together, they contribute 18% and 8% of the region’s life science exports, positioning themselves at the forefront of this thriving industry.  In Southern Sweden and Eastern Denmark alone, over 65,000 people work in the life science sector. Notably, Denmark hosts more than half of the 503 GMP-certified pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in the Nordic region. This robust pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry plays a pivotal role in the Danish economy, and accounts for 23% of the total industry turnover. Among the most influential names in this field are Nova Nordisk, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, and LEO Pharma.

Denmark has seen many large pharmaceutical companies investing heavily in increased manufacturing capabilities in recent years, not dissimilar to the boom that occurred in Ireland in the 2000s. Novo Nordisk has announced investments in increased manufacturing capabilities for over 42 billion DKK in 2024 alone and has become the most valuable company in Europe. The company has developed into a real job engine in the Danish economy, accounting for around 20% of the total growth in private employment.​ In fact, Novo Nordisk’s significance to the Danish economy is such that if removed from economic growth figures, GDP growth would have been roughly 0% instead of growing by 1.9%. Similarly, FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies have recently invested 28 billion DKK in plant expansions. Other notable investments in new manufacturing facilities are LEO Pharma (1.6 billion DKK), Christian Hansen (1.5 billion DKK), AGC Biologics (1.2 billion DKK), Ferring (1 billion DKK), and Bavarian Nordic (1 billion DKK).

Many foreign pharmaceutical companies have their production facilities and offices in Sweden, with huge capacity. These include AstraZeneca, the largest in the country, and others including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Cytiva, NorthX Biologics and Octapharma. 

As is often the case in the Nordic countries, strong cross-border collaboration in research, innovation, and knowledge transfer has been paramount to the success and growth of the Life Science industry. This takes the shape of Medicon Valley Alliance, based in the Øresund Region. Spanning Skåne county in Sweden and Greater Copenhagen and its surrounding rural counties, this Swedish-Danish collaboration has driven world-leading positions in areas such as fertility, diabetes, and the microbiome. Together, Medicon Valley Alliance and the Stockholm-Uppsala cluster contribute to making Scandinavia one of the most prominent life science regions globally.


The Irish Opportunity

Irish companies have experiences and capabilities to service the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in the Nordics. The strong presence of multinational companies in Ireland in this sector has built up skills and expertise and created a strong local Irish supply chain, and there are many synergies between this and the demand by multinationals in the Nordics. In general, multinationals in the Nordics have similar needs to those in Ireland, and so Irish companies are well-positioned to fill this gap. 

Based on the recent and ongoing investments in increased manufacturing capability in the Nordics, there are many opportunities for Irish companies in the pharmaceutical manufacturing supply chain to target individual Nordic companies. Tenders are normally not publicly available in the pharmaceutical industry, and it is important to establish relationships with procurement divisions and relevant procurement individuals. 


Leading with Sustainability

The pharmaceutical industry in the Nordics is actively transitioning toward a net-zero carbon footprint by adopting sustainable practices in drug development and manufacturing. This commitment involves investing in green technologies, reducing energy consumption, and minimizing waste. 

To be able to compete and win contract with the Nordic pharmaceutical companies, Irish suppliers must adapt to their green agenda. Suppliers should assess and minimize their environmental impact. This includes reducing energy consumption, waste generation, and emissions. Achieving sustainability throughout the product life cycle—from raw materials to waste management—is a priority. Despite challenges posed by the chemistry of medicines, efforts are underway to balance health benefits with environmental responsibility. 


Where we come in

Enterprise Ireland have an excellent overview of the pharmaceutical manufacturing landscape in the Nordic region and where decision makers are located. In July, we will publish a report that looks closer at the important players, their manufacturing activities, a geographic breakdown, their procurement processes, and their sustainability agenda. 

Do not hesitate to get in touch with Michael Norman ( if you are interested in the report or more information on the market.

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