Trend spotting with Torkel Gren

Torkel Gren is one of SwedenBIO's new board members. We took the opportunity to talk to him about trends in the industry.

Welcome to the Board, Torkel. If you were to summarize in one word what will guide the industry into the future, what would it be?

Maturity! I think the industry is growing up and approaching its best years. What I was thinking about is that we have an increasing number of companies that are viable both in their ideas and their ability to raise capital and skills and are able to realize their ideas.

We from SwedenBIO can confirm this picture, it is strength message after strength message from the smaller companies now. What has happened, do you have any insight into what is different today for small companies?

Yes, I see that many people are willing to sacrifice a career in academia or big business to start their own business and develop their own ideas and that commercializing science is no longer perceived as strange or ugly. On the contrary, many see that they can really make a difference by starting and running small businesses.

Is there a cultural change going on?

Yes, I think so. Now, changes in culture are always slow, but I feel that entering the corporate world is a little less dramatic now than it was 10 years ago.

What would it mean in the future if we develop a culture of value and excellence in building businesses on research ideas?

This would create a threshold effect that accelerates value creation. There is no shortage of good ideas, but we don’t have enough people who are willing to invest heavily in commercializing their ideas. We could get more bang for our research buck, with strong universities, motivated researchers, teacher exemptions, etc.

At the Gold BIO Gala, we chose to award prizes in four different categories. Do you think the choice of price categories reflects this increased maturity?

Yes, absolutely. The awards show that we have individuals with strong skills and that we can use those skills in a just way. One trend is that those who have a wide range of skills, the multi-skilled, are in demand. Another is that new skills are created in interaction between different companies. Today it is natural to rely on others and natural for individuals to move between different areas and organizations.

What are the benefits for companies?

I would say that being generous makes you a winner. Collaborating with each other not only provides better solutions to different challenges, but also superior capacity building.

There is talk of a major growing pains in the industry. Do you recognise it form ?

I think a lot of people feel a bit of growing pains, but it’s really just a symptom of success. But we do have to deal with our growing pains. The supply of skills is one of our major challenges. We have high skills in most areas but too few people. We need more heads and we all have a responsibility to train and develop future generations of skills.

What is the explosive power we have together within the framework of SwedenBIO and what can we achieve together? What is the dynamite that will take us into the future?

The power of the Community. SwedenBIO brings together people with great knowledge and a huge commitment to life science. When we exchange ideas with each other, when we learn from each other’s experiences, when we benefit from each other’s knowledge, tremendous power is released. It may not be quite like an explosion, more like a snail’s pace. You move mountains, but more slowly.

As a new board member, do you have a message for your industry colleagues in this community?

Take advantage of the maturity that exists. Learn from those who have succeeded. While every project is unique, there is much to learn from what others have done. And don’t be afraid to bring in new employees, and to grow them. Together you can do great things!