Department of Biomedicine upgrades innovation
Researchers with business dreams can now get help from Jane Palsgaard. She has experience from both sides of the table at the interface between academia and business and industry.
Jane Palsgaard Pedersen
- 46 years old
- MSc in human biology from the University of Copenhagen (2003), PhD from the University of Copenhagen and Novo Nordisk (2008), postdoc from Harvard Medical School until 2011, focusing on insulin and diabetes research. Postdoc at UCPH with focus on enteroendocrine cells and metabolism.
- Has been a project manager in the German company Evotec, where she helped identify new targets and promoted business development.
- Has been partnership director at Novo Nordisk, Research and Early Development for the past five years.
- Started 1 September 2023 as Chief Consultant, Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Department of Biomedicine.
More businesspeople in white coats. Researchers with an invoice. A bridge between the university and business and industry. The clichés are obvious in descriptions of the newly created position at the Department of Biomedicine for Jane Palsgaard.
She aims to help even more of the research at the department to reach patients and the rest of society. For example, through spin-outs or broad collaborations with industry and business.
Since 1 September, her job title has been Chief Consultant, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and even though she only moved into her office in building 1234 in the University Park a little over a month ago, the whiteboard on her wall is already full of ideas.
"My role is just being defined," she explains.
However, it is clear that she will provide input for business-oriented projects that are already running, and she will help new projects find life.
A way across the gap
Innovation is an idea that is put into practice and generates value.
It is certainly nothing new at universities, and at the Department of Biomedicine, Business Engagement Partner Claus Elsborg Olesen and many others have been working for some years to promote the innovation agenda.
The appointment of Jane Palsgaard is an upgrade that, unlike the help available at the AU start-up hub, The Kitchen, is 100 per cent dedicated to biomedical research, says Head of Department Thomas G. Jensen:
"I hope that we can now spread the innovation environment we have at the institute to even more researchers," he says, pointing to the great advantage that Jane Palsgaard has a postdoc background at UCPH and Harvard Medical School and she has worked in biotech and pharma companies. Most recently, she worked as a partnership director at Novo Nordisk, where she focused on external collaboration.
Jane Palsgaard also sees this as her great strength.
"I've been involved in a great many collaborations, and I know how people think, both in academia and in industry," she says.
"There can well be a gap, which is partly due to different ways of working. For example, industry is much more willing to complete a project and look for weaknesses as early as possible. Ultimately, it's a commercial business. In academia, the goal is generally to publish your research, and you may be more inclined to keep your project alive for as long as possible," she explains.
"But I've seen that when a researcher can cross the gap in a good collaboration with industry, there’s a lot to gain for both sides – and a lot to learn from each other. Industry and academia are good at different things, and you’ve already come a long way if you're aware of that."
What is your niche?
When Jane Palsgaard assesses possible innovation projects at the Department of Biomedicine, she asks critical questions about everything, from the idea and potential, to the pitch and competitors in the market. She can participate in preliminary meetings or as the university's representative on a company steering committee in various types of collaboration.
She is looking forward to using her experience from biomedical research to act as a scientific discussion partner for the researchers, while always keeping an eye on the business side.
"How should we shape our project? What is it most suitable for – a spin-out, a collaboration or both? What differentiates this project to make it interesting from a business perspective? I'm really looking forward to discussions like these," she says.
Most researchers go from academia to industry, but for Jane Palsgaard it was perfectly natural to go the other way.
"I've always mostly been interested in early research, but I always keep application at the back of my mind," says the new senior consultant. She hasn't lived in Jutland since moving to Copenhagen from Esbjerg in 1997 to study human biology at UCPH. In many ways, it feels like coming home. She has now moved to Vejlby with her three-year-old son and enjoys the walk through the University Park every morning.
"I take a humble approach to the job. I'm going to meet with a lot of people to hear what will add value for them. It also means that I can influence the direction in which my position evolves," says Jane Palsgaard.
Her email and phone are open to everyone at the Department of Biomedicine who either has a concrete idea or just wants to hear more.