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’Vision Zero’ and innovation – how Sweden will become a world-leader in cancer care

The 'Vision Zero Cancer' initiative aims to eliminate cancer as a cause of death and turn it into a curable or chronic disease. A group of companies and organizations, together with Stockholm School of Economics, want to make Sweden world-leading in preventing, detecting and treating cancer.

How can Sweden become even better at cancer care? Hopes are that a new innovation milieu, just granted funding by Vinnova, will provide the answer. The initiative is championed by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKR), AstraZeneca, Elekta and Stockholm School of Economics (SSE).

The idea for a Vision Zero comes from the Swedish Transportation Administration, who in 1997 launched its long-term goal, or vision, of zero traffic-related deaths or injuries. By focusing on innovation, among other ways through prevention and early diagnoses, the hope is to eventually transform cancer into a curable or chronic disease. First out is lung cancer.

"The clear goal of the innovation milieu is to eventually eliminate cancer as a cause of death. That's like putting a man on the moon. It's a moon-landing vision," says Ola Ejlertsson, Client Director at Stockholm School of Economics Executive Education (ExEd).

More innovation in cancer research

As a business school, SSE does not carry out clinical research on cancer as a disease. But when it comes to innovation and organization, the School is the perfect partner. And we need all the different pieces to complete the puzzle.

There is a lot of money going into cancer research – with too little innovation as a result, says Ola Ejlertsson. Far too often specialists, academia and other players work in silos, without the cross-functional approach necessary to meet the many challenges they are facing.

"There's a need to coordinate research in this field and create a point of contact where different specialist healthcare professions can work in a more integrated way, and entrepreneurs, companies and academia can meet. This will create better conditions for developing innovative products, services and ideas. We want to be the catalyst for this," he says.

For this to work it is important to find new and better ways for control and change management. SSE's contribution will be to carry out research on these challenges, Ola Ejlertsson explains. For this purpose, recruitment is ongoing for a new PhD position focusing on digitalisation and innovation in healthcare.

Training for interdisciplinary leadership

ExEd, in turn, will continue its contributions to leadership training and development within cancer care. At the initiative of Professor Hans Hägglund – currently cancer coordinator at SKR – the School has previously held leadership training programs for cancer specialists, with the goal of broadening the recruitment base of healthcare managers with specialist expertise. ExEd is now building on this experience to educate leaders who are both interdisciplinary and innovative.

"In addition to becoming a natural point of contact, we hope to see this initiative become a role model internationally," Ola Ejlertsson says.

Virtual meeting place

The innovation milieu will initially work as a virtual meeting place, creating a natural communication hub for all players in the eco system. It will make it possible to share new research and discuss ideas with others within the hub.

The idea is also for the students at Stockholm School of Economics to get the opportunity to collaborate on projects together with the different players associated with the hub, both to open up for new ideas – and new career paths.

"Young students today are value-oriented and want to do something good for society. This creates new opportunities for everybody involved," Ola Ejlertsson concludes.

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