In the head of a business advisor

2022-05-30

Susanne Bredenberg and Ingrid Ajaxon work as business advisors at UU Innovation, and are always keen to hear more about new research from the University. Photo: Sara Gredemark.

Hello there Susanne and Ingrid, business advisors at Uppsala University, who work in the field of utilisation and play a supportive role with both students and researchers.

When can a researcher benefit from a business advisor?

Susanne: We are here to help with the researcher’s questions and concerns about the utilisation of research results. What does the researcher want to happen when the research project is finished? Can the results be used in some way outside the immediate research environment? That is what we help to explore! We can provide skills and resources that complement the researcher’s own and that will help them move forward more quickly with the development of their results and ideas towards broader societal benefits.

Ingrid: The title business advisor can be a bit misleading, as it implies that the idea or result the researcher has must absolutely lead to a business undertaking. Our role is to guide the researcher based on what they want to achieve and the circumstances of the individual project. Working together, we define who might use the results and how they need to be packaged to create the best possible conditions for achieving the final goal.

Both Ingrid and Susanne have research backgrounds, in materials science and pharmaceutical formulation respectively, but then moved on to industry before stepping into the role of business advisor at the University. Susanne built a research-based company from the ground up, and Ingrid worked with research and development at another spin-off company from Uppsala University.

How does this combination of experience come in handy in your job as a business advisor?

Susanne: We understand what the job of a researcher is all about, and what you might struggle with in day-to-day life, while our industry experience has given us knowledge about what requirements might be placed on a future product, service or method.

How would you describe the first meeting with a business advisor?

Ingrid: The first meeting is for me as a business advisor to get an understanding of the knowledge or results that the researcher wants to utilise and the help needed to tailor further support. Everything said during our meetings is confidential, so we can talk freely.

Susanne: The first meeting is without preconditions; no preparation is required. The researcher tells us about their project and its objectives. We tell them about UU Innovation, and what support we can offer. Our aim is to verify the ideas and for the researcher to gain new knowledge about the conditions and potential of the ideas. We want to contribute to the idea bearer having a good basis for making decisions about the next step.

How does it work to develop an idea in parallel with research and teaching?

Susanne: We do not require innovation projects to move forward at a certain speed, but our support is tailored so that you can continue researching while developing your idea further.

Ingrid: Of course, the researcher needs to put in their own time to move forward, but it is our job to help structure the process and break it down into smaller pieces to make the way forward feel feasible.

Is there anything in particular a researcher might need to think about when it comes to utilisation and innovation?

Ingrid: I think many researchers want their research to be useful outside of the purely academic context, but it can feel difficult to know where to start, or whether what you have and know is enough. If I could give one piece of advice, it is to have the courage to try and to get help as early as possible.

Susanne: As a researcher here, you own your results, so you decide what to do with them. Naturally, there is a level of responsibility in that, but above all I want to highlight the opportunities, which not only contribute to a broader societal benefit, but are also about learning something new and broadening your network – which can also create new ideas for research.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK TO A BUSINESS ADVISOR?

There are several ways to get in touch with the business advisors at UU Innovation!

  • Send an email to innovation@uu.se
  • Attend the “Identify the hidden potential in your research” seminar, which is held once a month (the next seminar is 13 June from 12:00 to 12:45). Link to more information and registration.
  • Take UU Innovation’s self-test to see whether what you are developing in your research has the potential to create value for others as well – and remember to submit it as the last step. Link to the self-test.

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Last modified: 2022-09-22