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– Building a strong and sustainable Life science sector – together

Uppsala profile – Johan Sundström

How do you define success? Oh, well, the only way to survive in this business is to view every rejection on a grant application and every rejection on a manuscript submission as the natural course of your work. And that’s what you have to expect. And whenever you get accepted and whenever you get funded.

That is something extraordinary.

And that means if you want to have fun in your everyday work, you need to start celebrating small victories. I mean, it’s in the grit and the everyday hard work that we succeed. And most of the projects that I try to do now are projects that really change the way we do healthcare. And those projects are typically sort of a decade long. You can’t just count those successes because you wouldn’t stand it. So we celebrate all the time, but the small victories.

How do you perceive rivalry or competition? I love it. I mean, in the sense of the entrepreneurship I’ve been doing. If it’s just a small improvement of existing technology or service or whatnot, then competition will eat you up if you don’t go wholeheartedly into that project and make sure that you end up on top. Those are not the kinds of developments I try to work with. I try to work with stuff so far ahead or completely different in terms of perspectives that we need to convince people that this is the best way of doing things.

And in five years, we might be proven right. I’d like to be at a point where no one is at the moment and make sure that we

show people that this is the way we need to go. And there’s usually no competition in that space. Everyone’s competing about the small sort of incremental developments

What do you do that others don’t? I try to spend a lot time outside the usual research environment. And I try to give talks to audiences that I usually don’t meet. And I interact with people in a cross-disciplinary way.

As a Ph.D. student, you think that every minute away from your keyboard is a wasted minute. And 10 years after my Ph.D., I thought, I won’t go to any scientific meetings because that’s just a wasted week. That’s just a week that I’m not publishing papers. And all kinds of cross-disciplinary meetings that I was forced to, I hated, or not hated, but I tried to always check my emails at the same time. But I’m sort of increasingly appreciating those moments.

Now I try to spend as much time as possible (in those meetings) because that’s where I get to think of the really paradigm-changing ideas—trying to understand what those people are doing and why are they doing it that way. And can we apply any of that in my scientific environment?

Usually, those kinds of lust-driven collaborations and experiences turn out to be fruitful because you end up doing something that is a little bit different than your mainstream colleagues would do.


– Building a strong and sustainable Life science sector – together

Company representatives from the prosperous Life science industry, will share their journey, success strategies and examples concerning entrepreneurship. Business leaders, researchers, marketers, economists, business developers and other experts jointly describe the environment their companies operate in, what drives them and what challenges they face.

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Picture: Logo of the European Regional Development Fund