Bridging industry and the University of Copenhagen
38-year-old Associate Professor Søren Stobbe of the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute has been awarded the 2017 SCIENCE Business Prize by the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Science. Søren Stobbe received the award for successfully conducting commercially-oriented research while inspiring his students to do the same. Likewise, 35-year-old Assistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth of the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports and 35-year-old Postdoc Svend Roesen Madsen of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences received the Business Prize for Young Researchers. They received their awards for conducting research in commercial contexts while inspiring others. The 2017 SCIENCE Business Prize is worth 75,000 Danish kroner – the largest sum for a UCPH award, while the two business-minded younger researchers shared the second prize, each being awarded 37,500 kroner towards their future work.
It is a good idea for both oneself and society as a whole if, as a researcher, one considers commercial avenues – in addition to research and instruction. This is a must if we hope to solve many of the major problems and challenges that we are confronted by, while generating the employment and healthy economy that are a cornerstone of our welfare society.
There are significant reasons behind UCPH’s decision to establish the SCIENCE Business Prize for faculty researchers that have managed to translate their research into collaboration with existing companies or start-ups of their own.
The need for entrepreneurial-minded researchers at UCPH was underscored by Anne Skriver, Vice President of Global Application at Chr. Hansen’s Food Cultures & Enzymes, who presented this year’s Business Prizes in the Pompeii Hall of the Carlsberg Academy in Vesterbro, Copenhagen.
"Basic and commercially-oriented research should both be taking place at universities. This is what we in the business community need, and what we in Denmark need, so as to generate knowledge, growth and employment. It is at this interface between industry and the university that innovation becomes truly interesting. We must learn from one another – collaborate. Not necessarily to replicate or compete with one another’s core competencies, but to bring forth the best of both worlds. You who have received this award, have demonstrated the ability to do just that," stated Anne Skriver of Christian Hansen in her address to the award recipients.
Spin-off and outreach
In their statement, the external assessment committee, consisting of representatives from Chr. Hansen, Haldor Topsøe, Arla and Netcompany, described Professor Søren Stobbe: “with his effective commercial collaboration, business development and innovation, he has helped to bring important knowledge into play beyond the university. This has been achieved through a robust portfolio that includes numerous patents and licensing agreements, partnerships with external companies, extensive outreach and, not least, the founding of two spin-off companies. Additionally, Søren Stobbe is actively engaged in getting students to consider the commercial aspects of their research.”
Søren Stobbe has conducted research in nanophysics and the quantum mechanical effects in light-matter interaction. His work has included the development of a photon-chip that allows individual photons to be controlled. The development of a reliable, single photon source is a first step towards a future where photonic quantum technology can be applied to, for example, unbreakable encryption, or perhaps even a quantum-based internet. This is happening at a time when the University of Copenhagen is working together with Microsoft to build the world's first quantum computer in a race with other large companies and research institutions worldwide.
Commenting on his being awarded the 2017 SCIENCE Business Prize, Søren Stobbe says:
"I am really happy about the prize and the recognition of my work that it represents. I have been involved in the research of nanophysics and quantum mechanical effects in light-matter interaction for many years, but have increasingly become interested in commercialization and industrial collaboration. I want to share the technologies that I developed to drive basic research to new heights, with the rest of the world as a partner. It's good to share, but one soon confronts a funding problem. It dawned on me that the solution was to form a private company. I had already started two spin-offs and found them to be enormously instructive, difficult and fun. In the future, I hope to be involved with the starting up of even more, together with coming generations of PhD students and Postdocs.”
Professor Søren Stobbe will receive an honorary diploma for his efforts, as well as 75,000 kroner for his professional use.
Campaign against antibiotic resistance
This year’s SCIENCE Business Prize for Young Researchers is shared by two recipients, Postdoc Svend Roesen Madsen from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, and Assistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth from the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports. Each will receive 37,500 kroner towards their continued work. Oddly enough, the two awardees are old high school pals from Skive, Jutland who welcome their sharing of this year's SCIENCE Business Prize for Young Researchers.
Svend Roesen Madsen is being awarded the prize for working on solutions for the major problem of antibiotic resistance.
In its decision, the external assessment committee writes that: “Svend Roesen Madsen has distinguished himself with regards to strong collaboration with industry and his tremendous commitment to inspire students towards industrial collaboration with small businesses, thereby bridging a gap between his field of study and relevant companies.”
Commenting on his Prize, Madsen says:
"Antibiotic resistance is an enormous and accelerating problem across the globe, a problem that threatens our ability to treat even simple infections. As an industrial postdoc, I work together with Fermentationexperts AS, an innovative company that produces lactic acid fermented feed products. This collaborative work has led to the optimization and a new understanding of products that can reduce – and in some cases completely eliminate – the use of antibiotics by farmers who use them. I am extremely proud to receive this award. Not least, because it puts the focus on the fight against antibiotics resistance. I am also pleased to be able to influence the addition of lactic acid fermented plants/vegetables in the diets of people – it is not just for animal health."
Diet designed for individuals
Roesen's high school pal and co-awardee from Skive, Assistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth of the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, focuses his research on weight loss.
The external assessment committee writes that Mads Fiil Hjorth: "works with the measuring of simple, but new biomarkers connected with weight loss or maintenance. This will make it possible for individuals to choose the most likely diet to help them lose weight. Mads contributes solutions to a major societal problem - obesity and diabetes - in collaboration with an international company that provides funds for further research and development. Furthermore, he is committed to communicating his research to children, youth and adults. Thus, Mads is one of two great ambassadors for the 2017 SCIENCE Business Prize for Young Researchers.
Commenting on his award, Assistant Professor Hjorth says:
"Should one cut down on fat, or carbohydrates, to lose weight? Attempts to answer this question have been attempted over the past several decades. Now we know. There is no one diet for all, but one can be determined by using simple biomarkers prior to initiating a weight loss programme.
I'm honored about the award, which underscores the importance of personalized nutrition for the many millions of people who want to lose weight, for strapped health care budgets and for the development of this new research direction.”
What does it take to be awarded one of these prizes?
Some of the Business Prizes criteria are:
- To be a pioneer and add new perspectives and standards to one’s field
- To help implement the new knowledge/technology for the benefit of a company/industry
- To have contributed to enhance competitiveness within a company
- To involve instructors from companies or organizations
- To have contributed to knowledge sharing to small and mid-sized enterprises.
- To conclude licensing agreements
- To establish a company
- To support students in developing concrete ideas and competencies in innovation and entrepreneurship
- To inspire (other) students or other researchers to develop new inventions
Who is responsible for selection
The external assessment committee is composed of:
- Vice President, Global Application Food Cultures & Enzymes Chr. Hansen, Anne Skriver
- CEO, Netcompany, Carsten Gomard
- Senior Researcher, Haldor Topsøe, Stig Petersen
- Senior R&D Manager, Arla Foods, Henrik Jørgen Andersen
The Faculty of Science, SCIENCE, established the Business Prize in 2014 to honour and celebrate researchers and research groups that, to an exceptional degree, have brought their knowledge into play beyond the University.
In 2015, the SCIENCE Business Prize for Young Researchers was instituted so as to maintain and increase focus in this area. The prize is for early-career researchers - from PhD’s to Postdocs to associate professors.
The Faculty of Science has previously awarded the SCIENCE Business Prize to:
- 2014 – Professor Claus Felby, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management.
- 2015 – Professor Renate Müller, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
- 2016 – Professor Stephen Alstrup, Department of Computer Science
The SCIENCE Business Prize for Young Researchers has previously been awarded to:
- 2015 – Postdoc Carl Meusinger, Department of Chemistry.
- 2016 – Associate Professor Jeppe Vinther, Department of Biology.