I am standing at a table outside the auditorium in Wallenberg Conference Center in Sweden. My voice is slightly hoarse; I have been talking A LOT, but I have no intention of stopping. I am talking about my favourite topic: entrepreneurship and innovation. How to build a global company, launch products. How to lead, collaborate, strategize, and ultimately, how to do it all…..and win.
Earlier today, I was the Keynote Speaker at Sahlgrenska Science Parks annual flag ship event for innovation and entrepreneurship in the west coast of Sweden, Park Annual, now in its 17th year. The event is sold out, and the room was packed. It’s okay for me: No matter how big the audience is, I don’t really get nervous up on stage. I have a few minutes before, where I find myself getting very focused almost like time slows down…but once I am up, I find it strangely comforting, fun, invigorating. After all, I am just talking about my own experience, the good and the… not so good. I know this, it is just my memories and learnings that I share. What is not to like!? In addition, I get to listen to other speakers: I get new ideas, and I always, always learn new things.
Hunger for knowledge
When we break for lunch there are two people at my table at all times, with a small line-up of others politely waiting their turn. I am a bit surprised; in my experience Sweden and the Nordics are a bit more….reluctant to approach you, but today, that is not the case. So many people, so many questions, and so many lovely comments. I feel overwhelming gratitude to everyone there, and the line-up doesn’t seem to end. Lunch is clearly not going to happen, but I don’t mind.
Coming “back home” makes me nervous
Someone I used to know when I worked in Sweden a long time ago comes up, but I am busy talking with someone who is very excited, and I can’t interrupt. I see them walk into the auditorium a little while later as the afternoon session is about to start. I make my excuses and try to go find him. I spot him in the audience, and quickly grab the seat next to him, and say “Hej Petrus”. I was nervous to see him, hoping he would remember me (in a good way!) from when I first joined #medtech two decades ago at Johnson & Johnson . True to the nature of that entire team, I needn’t have worried; the huge grin on his face and the warmest of hugs swept my worries away. His words: “You are FANTASTIC! That was a GREAT speech!” made me emotional. Is there anything better than the approval and recognition from those we look up to and that we first learned from?
So many innovators came to see me, and every one of them have a great idea, and my mind sparks with strategic choice, challenges and options for their products. I could easily spend hours with each, but there are so many waiting to speak with me, I have to be disciplined, fair. I try to ensure I give time to everyone, and tell people to connect with me later.
At some point, there is music, and someone hands me a glass of bubbles. I don’t have time to drink it, and then forget it on a table somewhere when I am whisked off for some photos. I am handed another glass by a kind person who comes to talk to me, and before I know it, the event is closing down with exhibitors packing up. It is almost 5 o’clock, and I have been listening to so many inspiring and engaging people that my brain is doing a happy dance of pure joy. My feet however, are not interested in participating – they have had enough. A molecular biologists takes pity in me and teaches me about Bolt, the local version of Uber. She waves me off with a lovely smile, and I sink back into the seat with a happy sigh. The driver looks at me and says: “Long day?” I reply: “GREAT Day”. We spend the rest of the journey talking about Eid and Christmas (he likes Eid and the food, I am not very keen on Christmas and like ALL food, which he thinks is funny), he tells me about Swedish house prices nowadays and his strategy for when to buy one. We agree mortgages are unpredictable, and that every holiday should include getting cash. He is lovely, and we have a great chat. Back at the hotel, I take the stairs. My feet my be aching, but my heart is singing, and I almost skip down the corridor before collapsing on the bed. 5 min, and then I’m checking on the JUNE MEDICAL and Mosaic Surgical teams in the UK – we are in the middle of MDR audits, and there is a lot to do. I am not the expert, but I CAN help by making sure everyone has what they need, focus is on the right things and that everyone is feeling supported and appreciated.
Before I know if, it is 7.30pm and time to meet the organising team for dinner. We spend an evening talking in depth about the ambitions for Sahlgrenska Science Park, Swedish #medtech and the individual dreams for people around the table. I am having a lovely time, with great food, beautifully served, and conversations fuelled by bright minds and insightful and thought-provoking discussions. Swedish innovations in Gothenburg are in great hands, and the team is well set for further achievements like today.
The event was exceptionally well organised by Sahlgrenska Science Park team led by Charlotta Gummeson. Planning the session and moderating the panel was phenomenal Emma Hallenberg, a sparkling bright mind in constant search for how to better support entrepreneurs and innovators. Behind the scenes (and as we all know it takes a village to do an event of that magnitude!) Lizelotte Edvinsson has done a stellar job, without even breaking a sweat!
I was also delighted to see the team at Key2Compliance® exhibiting. Jan Hellqvist and his knowledgeable and skilled team use my UK company as the UKRP of choice for their clients. (more here). I gave them all the brochures about our UK rep service, and hope they will help support more companies who want to be represented by us in the UK.
To inventors and startups
To all the people attending, both the ones I spoke to and the ones I didn’t get the chance to see: THANK YOU so much for your time, your dedication, your dreams and your ambitions. It is thanks to people like you, who get up every morning with the intentions of DOING BETTER that we all will live a better and healthier future. I admire you, and I applaud you. Like I said on stage, you already have ALL YOU NEED to be successful. YOUR IDEA is unique to you, but ALL the other stuff someone else has done before – you just need to find the person to learn from.
And then, when you sit there with your plans…..HALF IT and STRETCH IT, and you will be GREAT!
Thank you for having me!
Thank you also to AstraZeneca, GoCo Health Innovation City, Setterwalls Advokatbyrå, Mölnlycke, Key2Compliance®, Mediteq, Miltenyi Biotec, QRIOS, Q&Q Labs AB, Walkbeat and congratulations to all excellent speakers: Jenni Nordborg, Carsten Kjær Joensen, Magnus R. Björsne, PhD, MBA, Assoc. Prof., Edvard Abel.