Annual report 2015: Collaboration and innovation

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Karolinska Institutet, KI, collaborates extensively with other higher education institutions, hospitals, government agencies, companies and organisations throughout the world. Such collaborations are essential to a successful university. The vast majority of KI’s research is carried out in collaboration with an external party, and more than half together with an international party.

KI’s single largest partner, Stockholm County Council (SCC), facilitates vitally important clinical research and education. More than half of KI’s activities are conducted in the clinical environment, primarily in hospitals, but also in primary care and elderly care facilities.

The areas around KI’s campuses in Solna and Huddinge are constantly being developed as strong nodes for medicine and health research. KI shares its location with Karolinska University Hospital, KI Science Park, SciLifeLab, the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC. Stockholm University, Södertörn University, the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, and the Stockholm School of Economics are the closest academic institutions in Stockholm that KI collaborates with. In 2015, KI and KTH implemented a joint education programme and doctorate degree in medical technology.

Eleven universities are behind the initiative at the national academic centre of excellence, Swetox in Södertälje, with research, education and broad collaboration in toxicology. In 2015 Swetox became the first academic research environment in Sweden to be granted GLP status (The OECD Principles of Good Laboratory Practice) for Toxicological studies, Analytic and Clinical Chemistry. In the region we also have close collaboration with Uppsala University, several companies and foundations, including Flemingsberg Science and Stockholm Science City. The latter two are supported by KI with operating grants of SEK 1 million and SEK 500,000 each per year.

In cooperation with the Max Planck Gesellschaft in Germany and its Institute for Biology of Ageing, a Max Planck laboratory has been established at KI with activities specialising in rare congenital metabolic diseases.

Selected key indicators for collaboration
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

A. Externally financed research, total (SEK million)

– from companies, total revenue (SEK million)

– from overseas companies (SEK million)
















B. Contract research (SEK million)

– from companies, total revenue (SEK million)











C. Contract education, total revenue (SEK million)

– from companies, total (SEK million)











D. Contract education (FTE students) 235 250 241 304 279

E. Adjunct Professors (total number)

– of which are financed by Stockholm County Council











F. Doctoral students employed in the private sector and public organisations (annual working units) 446 455 479 500 511

G. Number of EU projects (FP6, FP7, H2020 and EU health programme)

– as coordinator











H. Ideas/advice/cases treated at KI Innovations AB and the Innovation Office 157 178 123 139 150
I. KI Innovations AB active projects at turn of year 13 11 30 50 55
J. Companies within KI Science Park 65 63 70 82 86
K. Employed by companies within KI Science Park 580 420 575 651 672
L. Scientific articles, percentage co-published with parties outside of KI (%) 84 83 85 84 n/a
M. Scientific articles, percentage co-published with international parties (%) 62 63 63 63 n/a

Sources: A–C: The financial system Agresso, D: The student database Ladok, E: KI Recruitment Unit, F: The student database Ladok, G: KI Grants Office, H–K: Data from respective operations, L, M: Web of Science/KI University Library. Certain data included herein are derived from the Web of Science® prepared by THOMSON REUTERS®, Inc. (Thomson®), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: © Copyright THOMSON REUTERS® 2016. All rights reserved.

Collaboration with Stockholm County Council

Stockholm County Council (SCC) is KI’s single most important partner; a considerable portion of KI’s research and education requires access to the healthcare services. Extensive restructuring of healthcare in the Stockholm region requires intensified collaboration between KI and the county council and this takes place at different organizational levels. Under the KI-SCC collaboration organisation, KI is participating in the planning and operationalisation of the new Karolinska University Hospital and in the designing of the new operational model at the University Hospital. In addition to this, KI continues its involvement in the joint KI-SCC project Programme 4D and in the establishment of an academic specialist centre. Another important focus area is ICT-related development.

KI is represented in the county council’s RSIT (regional collaboration IT) and has been invited to participate in working groups concerning the county council’s Programme 3R initiative for the future healthcare information environment.

New regional ALF agreement

In November 2015, KI and SCC signed a new regional agreement concerning cooperation on clinical research and training and the development of health care to enter into force on 1 January 2016. It replaces, among other things, the time-limited regional ALF agreement between KI and the county council that was signed in April 2015. With the new agreement, the parties will work together to promote advances in healthcare by deepening and expanding cooperation in the areas of translational and clinical research, education, development and innovation. A joint, long-term strategy for collaboration on university healthcare in the Stockholm region will be drafted and a new collaboration organisation will be established in 2016.

Collaboration for the allocation of RDE resources

Collaboration for the allocation of ALF funds and the RDE (research, development and education) resources that the county council brings to the cooperation for joint prioritisation is organised within the KI-SCC collaboration organisation. KI-SCC annually announces funds for various activities including clinically focused medical research and development projects and funds for clinical positions at various levels, such as clinical post-doctoral researchers and clinical researchers.

In addition to resources for activities at appropriate units, funds are also distributed to clinical research schools and core facilities, i.e. service units that offer services that cannot easily be implemented and/or carried out by individual research teams.

The bulk of resources earmarked for education are used for placements within the medicine programme and the speech therapy programme. Funds are also allocated to, e.g. adjunct clinical lecturers, pedagogical research and development projects and to the activities of KUA, KUM and KTC (clinical education ward, clinical education reception and clinical training centre).

In the area of infrastructure, KI-SCC has continued to support the Stockholm Medical Biobank and the Quality Register Centre Stockholm.

Collaboration with the general public

KI works purposefully to inform society at large about the knowledge being created at the university. The mass media is an important channel for the dissemination of research results to the university’s external target groups and a wider general audience.

KI’s popular science magazine, Medical Science, is distributed to the press, politicians, funders, hospitals and schools and to paying subscribers and purchasers of individual issues. Last year, the magazine increased its printed edition to 25,500 copies and it is also available on several digital magazine sites. An annual collection edition in English is distributed to groups such as foreign journalists and embassies.

Many of KI’s researchers and teachers are also involved in public debate as the authors of opinion pieces and books, as lecturers and by participating in fairs and conferences. During the year both researchers and students at KI have also started podcasts with the general public in mind.

Since 2001, KI has had close cooperation with several upper-secondary schools, primarily in Stockholm’s outer areas. The aim is to increase the interest of school pupils in the natural sciences, to encourage them to pursue further studies and to broaden the recruitment base. The focus is on programmes in natural sciences or engineering.

Innovation support and collaboration with industry

A significant proportion of the research at KI is carried out in close collaboration with companies, both Swedish and foreign. This allows for an exchange of knowledge and also provides a source of funding. Over the course of 2015, KI received SEK 341 million in funding from companies (SEK 289 the previous year), of which SEK 89 million came from companies based abroad.

The development work for collaboration and innovation is based on the knowledge triangle – research, education and innovation – with the entrepreneur at the centre. Joint cooperation forms and objectives are produced in order to optimise results and effects in the form of benefits for customers and society at large. Making this possible requires robust steering, monitoring and follow-up, for example through the following initiatives:

  • An Advisory Council has been established with representatives from KI, SCC, the Stockholm County Administrative Board, private companies and investors.
  • New steering with a clearer division of roles and integration of KI’s various innovation actors is planned.
  • New forms of collaboration with industry have been analysed and are being applied successively.

KI Science Park and several important centres for collaboration are based at KI. SciLifeLab, which is a national resource in molecular bio-sciences, is operated jointly by KI, KTH, Uppsala University and Stockholm University and is funded by government appropriations and funds from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and AstraZeneca. A new centre, ICMC, for translational research in collaboration with AstraZeneca was inaugurated in 2015. The centre’s overall objective is to identify and validate new target molecules in the area of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In February 2015, KI and the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk A/S signed a collaboration agreement on diabetes research. The research programme will run for five years and will mainly be undertaken at KI, with some periods at Novo Nordisk in Denmark.

Another example of long-term company partnerships established in 2015 is Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which intends to enhance KI’s innovative strength and to convert this into product and business development and into implementation within healthcare.

At the same time KI also commenced a partnership with the pharmaceutical company Janssen (part of Johnson & Johnson). This project uses healthcare data to analyse the follow-up of disease and treatment and how this relates to effects in clinical trials.

An important project based on the knowledge triangle is EIT Health, which is a Knowledge and Innovation Community, KIC, for Healthy Living and Active Aging. This KIC was established by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology, EIT, in 2014. EIT Health is one of the EU’s biggest innovation and education initiatives in the field of health and will be financed by up to EUR 700 million until 2020.

KI participates in EIT Health in order to partner with prominent Swedish and European institutions and companies to address the challenges of demographic change. In 2015 the legal and financial structures for EIT Health have been established. The Scandinavian head office, which is one of six European Co-Location Centres has been established in Stockholm at KI Science Park.

The innovation system

Companies, researchers or students who wish to collaborate with industry and other organisations outside academia or develop innovative ideas, whether they can be commercialised or otherwise, are offered the concrete support initiatives of KI’s innovation system. The objective is to stimulate the utilisation of sciencebased knowledge in medicine and health, such as new products or services. The innovation system strengthens translational capability and contributes to a more professional interaction between academic research and education and society at large with a focus on industrial enterprise and utilisation.

Overarching tasks of the innovation system:

  • Inspire new innovative ideas
  • Support the development of ideas towards utilisation
  • Identify business opportunities with innovative potential
  • Secure “proof of concept” and funding in an early phase
  • Promote commercialization with customer benefit
  • Establish partnerships with industry and investors

Early-stage advisory and cooperation with industry

KI has run an innovation office since 2010. The innovation office provides comprehensive and integrated service aimed at researchers, students and companies.

In 2015 there were 97 early-stage advisory cases handled at the innovation office, seven of which involved advice to students. Of these cases, 30 have been followed up with various types of in-depth initiatives, of which 22 led to extended patent investigations. Six advice cases have been passed on to KI Innovations in order to obtain Verification for Growth funding from Vinnova. There were 17 cases of company collaboration with already established research at KI during the year involving both large and small companies, of which five cases led to more concrete collaboration and/or an agreement.

The Innovation Office participates in several regional and national projects that aim to improve conditions for the utilisation of ideas and knowledge, including several projects funded by Vinnova.

With support from regional structural funds, the Innovation Office has collaborated with SCC in order to further enhance the growth opportunities of small companies in the region. In cooperation with Södertörn University, KI has established a multidisciplinary meeting place for academia, industry and society at large.

Innovation office

KI’s incubator

Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB offers commercial advice and support. Ideas and inventions based on research, primarily from researchers at KI, are evaluated. KI Innovations is responsible for allocating funding from Vinnova to evaluate the commercial potential of promising projects. In 2015 KI Innovations examined, assessed and followed up 66 ideas and inventions. Of the 66 ideas submitted, 31 have progressed to verification by external experts financed by Verification for Growth (Vinnova), pre-study funding (ALMI) or utilisation funding (Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SSF).

During the year four new companies/projects have been brought into the incubator at KI Innovations. Of the projects or companies undergoing verification at KI Innovations, ten have successfully secured external funding (investment or other form of support) during the year. One project with significant ownership by KI Innovations made a successful exit during the year through the sale of rights to a patented technology platform. At the end of 2015, there were 55 active commercial projects at KI Innovations. More than 1,500 ideas and inventions have been evaluated since the company was founded in 1996.

Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB

KI Science Park

KI Science Park offers premises in a business development environment on the Solna and Huddinge campuses. KI Science Park has 86 companies (of which nine listed companies) with 672 employees and emerged from KI’s research, healthcare and other companies which chose to localise close to KI. The park acts as a growth and meeting place for the companies and their stakeholders. In order to support the companies’ development, KI Science Park offers a medicine and life science focused mentor programme, seminars, workshops and a business development programme.

KI Science Park

Education and research in innovation and entrepreneurship

The Unit for BioEntrepreneurship (UBE) is an academic unit at KI that conducts research in innovation and entrepreneurship, knowledge dissemination and education, including a two-year international Master’s programme given at KI. In 2015 almost 300 students at KI received education in entrepreneurship and innovation.

A significant proportion of this research and education takes place in collaboration with companies and organisations – through a total of 56 different collaborative projects in 2015. Interdisciplinary studies are facilitated at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, an academic collaboration between KI, the Stockholm School of Economics, KTH, the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, and Stockholm University.

In 2015 a one-year project was carried out to initiate implementation of entrepreneurship in KI’s doctoral education.

Research in innovation and entrepreneurship at KI aims to increase the level of knowledge and the development of innovation systems and innovation processes in medicine and life science.

The Unit for BioEntrepreneurship (UBE)

KI Holding AB

Karolinska Institutet Holding AB owns, sells and manages shares and participations in several project and service companies. Their aim is the commercial exploitation of projects and knowledge developed or originating from activities at KI so that knowledge and research results are put to good use.

KI Holding controls six wholly owned subsidiaries: KI Innovations AB, KI Science Park AB, KI Housing AB, KI University Press AB, the recently activated KI Information AB and the dormant KI Support AB. KI Holding is by voting power (25.6 per cent) the largest owner and in equity (6.8 per cent) the third largest owner of the independent investment company Karolinska Development AB (Nasdaq Stockholm: KDEV, KD). As of 31 December 2015, its portfolio consisted of twelve companies. In December 2015, KI Holding and KD signed a new nonexclusive deal flow agreement.

KI Holding AB

Annual report