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3 Q&A Interview with Anders Thelborg, General Manager at MVA-member, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Mar 21, 2024

1) Why has BMS as a global life science company decided to co-fund and establish a life science entrepreneurship course at KU?

In 2016, Bristol Myers Squibb Denmark, the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship, and the University of Copenhagen (Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences) decided to establish a life science entrepreneurship course, “Entrepreneurship in Pharmaceuticals”, at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. At the time, no similar courses were available, so we decided to close the gap between life science students and entrepreneurship. Often, talented students have an idea for a startup, but need the knowledge to actually create their own companies. Particularly within life science, inventing a molecule, there are many details to take into consideration. We have tried to encourage exactly that by offering a course life “Entrepreneurship in Pharmaceuticals”.

2) What are the success criteria for the BMS micro grants for promising life science start-ups?

The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship hands out the micro grants to promising life science startups, but we are funding some of the micro grants and thereby choosing the ones that receive a Bristol Myers Squibb micro grant.

There are applicants who work with the UN Global Goals and their success criteria are their teams, the potential of the idea, value for money and how they impact the global goals. Other applicant are not working with the UN Global Goals, but broadly with sustainability. They are then evaluated based on their team, the potential of the idea, value for money and sustainability. We are also very much aware of diversity, equity and inclusion when evaluating the ideas and teams. Unfortunately, we do see a gap between men and women when it comes to receiving funds for their startups. We find it important to be aware of this, possibly unconscious, bias.

3) What is the nature of and motivation behind your life science programs aimed at Danish high schools?

After we implemented the course at the University of Copenhagen, we decided to run a pilot at two Danish high schools. The pilot was a life science programme for students wanting to specialize in biotech. The idea was to go one level down in the chain of education from the universities to high schools. We know from research that it’s best to be exposed to the idea of entrepreneurship as early as possible in order to create the innovators of tomorrow. After it became a success at those two high schools, the programme was expanded into including 5 other high schools as well.

3 Q&A interviews