Call for proposals:
A pull to transform inventions into innovations
Sweden has a striking reputation within life science, with great science, scientists, academic institutions and the Pharmacia / AstraZeneca legacy. During my post-doc period in Australia in the mid-nineties, colleagues talked about ‘going to Stockholm’ meaning ‘winning the Nobel Prize’. Sweden also scores high in several rankings in the global innovation index. But how do we pull out the good ideas that may become new innovative products or treatments for the benefit of patients?
We know how to do it, and we have a tradition. There are many examples where Swedish inventions have become great innovations with worldwide impact.
From my perspective, in my daily work at Uppsala BIO and Swelife, I see that calls for project proposals can be the pull that is needed. During the calls for which I have been responsible, BIO-X 2013 and Swelife 2016, for example, we received many project proposals; 58 and 144 respectively. And while many of the principal investigators I met during this work were new to the entrepreneurial world, they didn’t hesitate to step into it because they saw the value of the open call for project proposals. One thing we have learnt during our 13 years of BIO-X is that combining the call with extra support and coaching contributes to more viable projects and teams. This BIO-X way of working has also been transferred to the Swelife hands-on model.
One hurdle on the road to commercialisation for early start-ups is to accelerate the more mature projects to the next phase. When you have verified your idea and commercial potential, you need to get going. With this in mind, Swelife just launched the first ‘Step 2 call’ or accelerator programme 2017 with the aim of supporting really good projects with strong commercial potential. In this programme, which is only open to previously Swelife-supported teams, you can apply for a grant of up to 5 MSEK to be combined with 50% co-financing from the team. This ‘Step 2 call’ was a pilot project whose outcome will be evaluated later. But what appeals to me about this model is that it is projects that have been scrutinised by assessors in a first call and delivered their goals that get the chance to apply for a larger pot of money to further accelerate project development.
Learn more about Swelife funding possibilities.
Anna Ridderstad Wollberg
Ph.D., Project Manager
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