Life science research ideas can save lives… Provided they reach the patients. A new institution based in Copenhagen Science City aims to help more great research-based ideas make the transition from lab to market. Their first step towards the goal was to open a co-working space on November 20th in Copenhagen Bioscience Park, COBIS. By Jes Andersen.
Muscle to help researcers transform into businesspeople
BioInnovation Institute is a discovery, incubation and acceleration institution established by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, a major Danish philanthropist. The institute opens with a new 300-mio DKK programme, state-of-the-art labs and collaborator desk-spaces for 20 start-ups. There is no doubt it has the muscle needed to help eminent researchers who dream of turning lab results into sustainable businesses.
Please prove me wrong
Nonetheless, the foundation is making this massive investment with some apprehension. In his inauguration speech, Foundation Chairman Lars Rebien Sørensen said:
Throughout the planning phase I feared that there would never be enough good ideas for a BioInnovation Institute. I hope you prove me wrong, and we are very proud to open this new home to science. We can almost sense your dreams”: Lars Rebien Sørensen, Chairman of the board of directors, Novo Nordisk Foundation.
Overwhelming interest to start businesses
Chances of proving Rebien wrong appear good. In his opening remarks, the chairman of the BioInnovation Institute board of directors, Steen Scheibye, said that the institutes’ first call received almost tenfold more applications than it has spaces. He did cautiously warn though, that the success of the Institute will eventually be measured in how well it accelerates the innovative companies it welcomes into its programmes.
Transparent and glasslike
A key concept for the Institute is transparency. All walls are glass. All enrolled companies share communal training in the BII Business Acceleration Academy (BAA). All lab and office space is temporary, so that company teams have to mingle regularly with new members of other teams. The philosphy underlying all this transparancy is, that collaboration and chance encounters foster ideas and nurture insights.
Stamps in my business passport
For Maja Rennig this concept has already proven its merit. Until recently a PhD-student at University of Copenhagen, Rennig is now Chief Technology Officer for Mycropt, one of the first eight companies to go through the BAA.
“The BioInnovation Institute supports the basic journey from science to start-up and the programme has taught me a lot. I even learned a lot about myself. I will leave the BAA programme with more than just stamps in my business passport”: Maja Rennig. CTO, Mycropt.
Filling a gap in the innovation ecosystem
Several speakers at the well-visited opening event touched upon the fact, that the BII fills a gap in the Danish ecosystem for life science innovation. In his speech, the Minister For industry, business and financial affairs, Rasmus Jarlov, spoke of a pressing need for strengthening the transfer of technologies from universities to companies.
We have been missing an essential link between universities and businesses, and we are very grateful for this private initiative. I believe it will make a big difference for people who wish to bring their ideas to market. I also believe it will make a big difference for patients and people all over the world”: Rasmus Jarlov, Minister, Industry, business and financial affairs. Denmark.