Unique innovation system in focus when KI presented at BIO 2008

Published 2008-06-17 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:24

[Press Release 2008-05-17] Karolinska Institutet´s president, Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, is taking part in BIO 2008, the world´s largest conference for players on the biotech market, to be held this year in San Diego. The president of the Swedish medical university will be talking about Sweden´s route to success in medical science and innovation.

"A modern university must place itself in the middle of society and help ensure that knowledge and new ideas come to benefit everyone," says Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, President of Karolinska Institutet. "The system for the commercialization of scientific inventions that we have created at Karolinska Institutet is unique in the world and is designed to do just this: to create new job opportunities and to have scientific research put to practical use in the healthcare sector."

The basic premise of Karolinska Institutet´s innovation system for the commercialisation of medical inventions is to provide early-stage funding and business development competence for companies set up around the latest research. This allows promising ideas to be exploited more quickly and cheaply than is possible through the agency of traditional pharmaceutical companies.

In the space of just a few years, Karolinska Institutet´s innovation system has generated scores of new small medical companies. A total of SEK 850 million (EUR 90 million) has been raised for corporate development in the biotech field and 900 inventions have been reviewed. After only four years, four companies (Dilafor, Calabar, Oncopeptides and Umecrine-Mood) have entered phase II studies, and three companies (Avaris, IPAB and Spectracure) have initiated phase I studies. One company, CogMed, has launched an IT-based product on the market for ADHD treatments.

"The next phase of development for our innovation system is the construction of Karolinska Institutet Science Park, which will provide new biotech companies with premises boasting ultra-modern infrastructure," says Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson. "We expect the premises to be completed in the autumn of 2009."


According to the Swedish teachers' exemption, teachers and academic researchers own the rights to the patentable results generated by the research they conduct at their university. The researcher is therefore free to decide how to commercialise his/her results.

Swedish universities are prohibited by law from taking their own financial risks. So in 1995, Karolinska Institutet set up a company to look after its commercial operations, which has since grown into Karolinska Institutet Holding AB and subsidiaries. The holding company covers all the necessary components of the step-by-step commercialisation process of turning products into viable companies. This includes the evaluation of ideas, patents and incubation. It also contains companies engaged in contract training and a publisher's specialising in popular science books about the world's major diseases - written by scientists at Karolinska Institutet.

Karolinska Development AB (publ) is the unit with Karolinska Institutet´s innovation system that drives the commercial development of future medical products. The aim is to ensure a significantly faster return on investment than conventional venture capital investment in the early-stage life science area, while simultaneously lowering development costs, so that more sought-after products can reach the market. Karolinska Institutet Holding AB is the largest shareholder, which secures the future rights. The plan is to have Karolinska Development AB (publ) listed on the stock exchange.

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