Hello, Alexander von Gabain, resigning Deputy Vice-Chancellor!

Published 2017-06-19 16:08. Updated 2017-06-19 18:47

You resigning now from your position, why?

My appointment has been a priori time limited to three years at my own request when negotiated in 2014. For the reason, it was apparent that I will turn 67 in April 2017 and thus reach Swedish pension age. I have started my position August 2014 and subsequently my term is ending July 2017, exactly, as it had been agreed. 

What has been most challenging?

When I arrived at KI, for two decades there was already a groundbreaking innovation support system, which Hans Wigzell was driving to implement. However, the importance to unlock innovation had not really reached the lab bench and clinic. Thus, the challenge has been to create awareness and acceptance in the organization that innovation needs more than excellence in research, education and good clinical practice.

When I arrived at KI, there was also a prevailing silomentality about innovation among support organizations, but also a lack of dialogue between KI, KS, SLL and other actors in the county. I am convinced that promoting innovation requires a holistic approach and a common ecosystem.

What are you most proud of during your time as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at KI?

I am pleased that we immediately made a position analysis of the status of KI's innovation system and subsequently created an action plan focused on improving cooperation between KI's various innovation support actors. 

I am proud that we are active partners in the EIT Health consortium "Innolife", which enabled us to promote innovation and entrepreneurship education and implement InovationDay. I am also pleased that we have managed to negotiate the business relationship between Karolinska Development, which has opened the door to create new types of innovation agreements with external business partners. 

The Innovation Partnership with Johnson & Johnson, launched in June 2015, is one such example. Through this partnership, a targeted announcement was made to KI researchers in 2016 with a focus on innovative research with potential. Thanks to the announcement, four new research collaborations have now been created, which will address key areas that can be applied in care. 

In addition, we have been able to establish a number of additional R & D agreements with leading companies. Together with Karolinska University Hospital we have negotiated a research and development agreement with Philips.

What are your future plans?

My research assignment at the University of Vienna continues, where we are working on a new Borrelia vaccine that will soon be in clinical trials. I will continue to be chairman of the corporate incubator of the Viennese Universities and also in a number of boards, and in the board of the biotechnology company with which I am co-founder, and in the Board of the largest European Research and Regulatory Institute in charge for registration of biologics and vaccines.

I will also spend more time with my family and share my time between Vienna, the Alps and Stockholm.