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Bo Ahrén: “Scientists need entrepreneurs to succeed in business”

Bo Ahrén: “Scientists need entrepreneurs to succeed in business”

BioInnovation Institute is right looking for Nordic candidates for the Creation House program that helps scientists bring their research out of the lab and into the economy. We had a talk with BioInnovation Institute’s vice chair, Bo Ahrén from Lund University in Sweden, about commercializing research and the unique offer in BII: up to DKK 10M in funding, labs and offices, a global network, programs and much more.

Bo Ahrén is pro-vice-chancellor of external engagement and professor of clinical metabolic research at the Department of Clinical Sciences in Lund. He conducts research on diabetes and has been involved in developing new drugs to treat type 2 diabetes. He has previously been chief of medicine at Region Skåne and head of the research clinic at Skåne University Hospital in Lund. In other words, he is very experienced in the academic environment and has also been involved in many start-ups and with larger companies throughout his career.

Why did you decide to join the board of BII?
I was part of the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Board of Directors when the vision of creating something that could foster life science start-ups was formed. We saw that projects needed more than funding to become a commercial success and discussed the possible solutions. When BioInnovation Institute finally came to life, I was asked to join the board which I accepted with great excitement.

Why is it not sufficient to distribute money to life science research?
Researchers need help with writing a business plan, with patents and with understanding the market. Many don’t see how essential it is to work with entrepreneurs that know how to create a commercial success and because of that the early projects may end up failing despite their great potential.

How do we create more interest around entrepreneurship in life science?
We need a cultural change and that takes time. We have worked on this in Lund for 20 years by establishing contacts with entrepreneurs and developing incubators with valuable programs and we have been quite successful. Today, we teach entrepreneurial courses for all Ph.D. students and although many don’t choose this path it is important that they are aware of the option. I believe that the universities in the Nordics must take responsibility for this by teaching entrepreneurship.

How can BioInnovation Institute make a difference for early-stage start-ups?
The Creation House program has the potential to fill a gap and it is very important that start-ups understand the value of coming together. It is unique to be a part of these physical surroundings and it is of great value to bring start-ups and resources together in a place like BioInnovation Institute. The program is up to 18 months longs and the limited time period might add focus and momentum.

What do you look for in a start-up for Creation House?
We discuss that continuously in the board. It is, of course, important with a strong research case, but a good team and knowledge of the market is also a necessity. We have a very good committee that supports on in the selection process and after just six months I am very happy to see that there are already a lot of applications.

Are you involved in a Nordic start-up? Apply for the Creation House program before February 14, 2019

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