After previous stops in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Lund – the mingle and debate roadshow Bubbel & Debatt arrived in Umeå on Thursday hosted by Biotech Umeå. Björn Ursing from SwedenBIO welcomed all and introduced the panel moderator, Birgitta Karpesjö from Apotekarsocieteten. Invited panel guests included Stefan K. Nilsson from Lipigon AB, Anna Ramnemark, from the Clinical Research Center at Norrland University Hospital, Magdalen Alatalo, manager at the county council’s VLL Innovation AB and Helén Fält, business coach at Umeå Biotech Incubator.
A closer look at the regional cross-organisational coaction was in the agenda – and several perspectives were up for debate. When asked about the weakest link each member of the panel had a different answer.
A competence missing in medicine
Stefan Nilsson started off with pointing to a lack of entrepreneurial competence in medical education and endorsed these skills be part of the curriculum at an early stage. He also pinpointed the fact that entrepreneurship is not valued in recruitment of academics and is seldom seen as a career merit.
Helén Fält agreed on the view that academics lack incentives to pursue a commercial path. She pointed to the need for coherent goals being communicated from above in addition to well-functioning innovation support.
- Politicians and top management may talk well about innovation – but if the local attitude is negative and there is no support or incentives in practice - we may be missing out on great ideas never being realised, says Helén Fält.
Property rights a culprit – and not enabler?
The fact that teachers in Sweden are exempted from the law giving employees the right to their staff’s innovations was also discussed as a potential culprit in the development of ideas. Since the personal risks are high and incentives low - the ideas that do make it to the innovation system is due to exceptionally motivated individuals, or just plain lucky brakes, argued Stefan Nilsson.
Regarding the access to clinical settings, Magdalen Alatalo claimed to see an ongoing change in culture and attitude.
- The health services are open to development projects and innovations from outside – but the harsh realities at the clinics and financial situation hampers the possibility to take part in studies, Anna Ramnemark added.
A suggested solution could be an internal innovation fund that would counteract the organisational barriers and make financing of R&D-projects smoother.
Bright vision of future in five years
In five years’ time however, the panel saw a much more positive situation. The university will have implemented entrepreneurial courses for all medical students, the life sciences sector will have grown considerably in Sweden, and more ideas will be evaluated thank’s to a nationally consistent infrastructure for innovation.
Text: Carolina Hawranek, UmeåBiotech Incubator
Photo: Göran Lidgren, Uminova Innovation/Biotech Umeå
About Bubbel & Debatt:
The event termed “Bubbel & Debatt” is a national roadshow of panel talks initiated in 2009. The event series is jointly organised by several national life science actors i.e. Swedenbio, Apotekarsocieteten, Naturvetarna, Sveriges farmaceuter and Kemivärlden Biotech in collaborations with local and regional host organisations. In Umeå the host was Biotech Umeå.
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