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Effective link between diabetes researches and business sector

The Lund University Diabetes centre has been conducting cutting-edge research on diabetes for a number of years. however, this has not been matched by corresponding success on the commercial side.

Not a lot has happened – until now, when the centre has its own innovation expert as part of a new programme from the Lund University Innovation System, LUIS.

The expert is Sylvie Bove, who has long experience from the pharmaceutical industry. She sees herself as a link between the business sector and the researchers - an intermediary who can speak both parties’ language.

She has invested a lot of time in getting to know the diabetes researchers and understanding their way of thinking.

“In order to achieve results, I must be able to make suggestions that suit them”, she says.

From her previous experience of university researchers and doctors, she expected to meet quite a lot of scepticism, but was pleasantly surprised.

“With my business background, I’m out of place in the research environment. Nevertheless I have been met with openness, curiosity and a surprising amount of interest”, she says.

Sylvie Bove has succeeded in starting four concrete projects in the six months she has worked at LUDC, the Lund University Diabetes Centre.

Two of the projects involve new companies under the University’s holding company, LU Bio, while the other two are cooperation projects with the pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk.

She has also arranged a meeting for large and small companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, at which LU’s leading diabetes researchers presented their work.

“The business representatives were impressed to meet a research group that was actively looking to cooperate with them. They had never come across that in Sweden before”, explains Sylvie Bove.

She thinks the time is right for this type of cooperation. The pharmaceutical industry, which has had increasing difficulty finding new big sellers, has realised that it needs help with the early stages of the research. At the same time, the universities are becoming more and more interested in opening the doors to their laboratories and offices.

Sylvie Bove therefore has a lot of plans for the future; she is going to organise innovation seminars, produce a brochure about the diabetes centre aimed at businesses, and develop a ‘quick reference guide’ with points for researchers to remember when they sign agreements with companies.

Sylvie Bove's post is being financed for three years by Tillväxtverket (the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth) and the Lund University Innovation System as part of the “Innovation Officer” programme.

The programme has its origins in the question of why the University’s strong research environments have not led to corresponding strength in the area of innovation and can be regarded as an offer from LUIS to the strong research groups at the University.

For this reason, Sylvie Bove will also be contacting the cancer researchers in CREATE Health and the BioCARE network to see what skills they need for business development.

“I think there are a lot of possibilities for commercialisation of products and tech- niques in the field of cancer as well”, she says.

Text: Ingela Björck

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