One of the highlights of the year, the travel to USA organized by NOME took place in June this year. Together with five Nordic startup companies, business coach Charlotta Dahlborg and two startups from KI Innovations Business incubator DRIVE travelled to the States to spend six days in San Fransisco, USA.
NOME- Nordic Life Science Network for Entrepreneurship, is a collaboration between the Nordic countries and was founded by the Danish Novo Foundation to support Life Science startups within the Nordics to succeed and grow globally.
The travel to the US is an annual happening where the selected startups get an opportunity to work with US advisors for almost a week to develop go-to-market strategies for the US market. The selected companies this year were MediTuner and Gesynta Pharnma from KI Innovations DRIVE incubator. Gedea Pharma from SMILE incubator in Lund, Precure from Accelerace in Copenhagen and Tezted from Jyväskylä in Finland.
This year, the travel was hosted by California Life Science Institute (CLSI)- an organization very similar to KI Innovations, also working with non-profit support to startups using consulting experts. CLSI´s program is called FAST program and supports American startup companies through business development consulting using a 300+ experts working pro bono.
CLSI is located in south part of San Fransisco close to the airport and around a 20 minutes’ drive from the city. Already from the airport you can see the characteristic brown hills with ”South San Fransisco – industrial city”. San Fransisco is traditionally an old industrial area with a railway that goes straight through the area. Previously this railway provided the industries with materials. However, today it divides the small center with low apartments buildings and run-down houses from the modern Life Science cluster on the other side with high and modern houses made of glass with pharmaceutical logos on. From the bridge you can read that this is the place where biotechnology was born.
The first day started with all five Nordic startups and mentors meeting and presenting themselves to each other. Each company had been matched with 4-5 American mentors with a special expertise suited for the Nordic startup. With the hosts representing CSLI there were almost 30 advisors with an average of 20-25 years of experience in Life Science to give advice to the startups throughout the week.
All startups pitched their company for 10-15 minutes and answered questions. The discussions were lively from the beginning which clearly showed that everyone wanted to make the most out of the week. The agenda for these intense days was almost the same. One or two main topics were introduced by an invited speaker. The highlighted topics were Sales, regulatory, reimbursement, Financing, deal structures, how to create a pitch. Most of the startups got the chance to pitch to an invited venture capitalist who gave them feedback, always from an American perspective.
Most of the seminars were held both with companies and with advisors present which generated very interesting discussions.
After all, perhaps the most rewarding of these days were the so-called break-out sessions which all startups had with their selected mentors between the seminars. These went on for almost 2-3 hours, where the advisors matched with the company worked intensely and dedicated with the entrepreneurs on how possible marketing plans could be implemented for the startup.
In typical American style, where no one is particularly careful with sharing opinions and having engaging discussions you had to be very fast on the keyboard to be able to document all the interesting insights so I did my best and I hope you liked this short summery.
// Charlotta Dahlborg
KI Innovations är ett helägt dotterbolag till Karolinska Institutets holdingbolag. KI Innovations nyttiggör forskningsresultat inom life science genom att utvärdera och verifiera projekt med kommersiell potential samt stödjer den affärsmässiga utvecklingen till bolagisering eller licensiering. Karolinska Institutets innovationssystem erbjuder utbildning, professionella nätverk, finansiering, expertkompetens inom entreprenörskap och affärsutveckling samt inkubationsmöjligheter för projekt och företag inom life science. www.karolinskainnovations.ki.se