Sweden's best biotech asset is its university brainpower. While the Medicon Valley to the south often gets the most attention as a high-profile biotech cluster, the Karolinska Institute and Uppsala University are home to some of the world's top scientists. Great ideas, though, don't easily translate into new companies. That takes money, and people with money typically like to avoid serious risk.
With that in mind, Uppsala BIO helped create the BIO-X program. Last summer, the group received 35 proposals that will be reviewed by their scientific advisory board. Selected proposals qualify for 1.5 million SEK for each of two years to help jump the gap that separates great thinking from a successful enterprise. Winning proposals will also get help with project management, IP support and help with industry contacts and expert advice.
"This is the first bridge over the first valley of death," says Uppsala Bio's Madeleine Neil. That X, she adds, stands for either the unknown or a crossroads, indicative of the cross-disciplinary approach they promote.
Uppsala BIO itself was a winner of the country's initial competition five years ago to select regional initiatives aimed at spurring the growth of their life sciences industries. It combines representatives of Uppsala's two universities, its biotech companies and the city of Uppsala.
The Swedish government has also been boosting the amount of resources available to its research scientists. And that money will help fuel more ideas for the country's entrepreneurs to commercialize.