New challenges call for collaboration
Maria Klintenäs is a business and innovation adviser at SLU Holding. Her remit is to contribute to the startup of new research-based companies – a remit that involves progressing expertise, ideas, services and solutions that can provide a more sustainable level of food production and can combat climate change.
There is, and always has been, great interest in entrepreneurship. But for Maria it's matter not of developing one’s own brilliant ideas but of promoting others who wish to progress their knowledge and ideas.
The emphasis is on the forest
“I’m delighted about bringing researchers, experts and entrepreneurs together, so as to explore the possibility of developing new technologies and new products. Here at SLU in Umeå there’s an emphasis on the forest and agricultural science in northern Sweden – a big and important area in which new technologies, new ideas and new innovations can contribute solutions in order to achieve the UN's global goal of combating climate change and attaining sustainable food production,” says Maria Klintenäs, business and innovation adviser at SLU Holding in Umeå.
Researchers can show new paths
Within the field of resource-intensive food production, work is currently in progress on several different ideas, and research at SLU in Umeå is creating opportunities to develop more sustainable and environmentally friendly options. Biofuels for transportation of heavy goods are an area in which the current challenge is rationalisation of ethanol production. Another example of new technology originating from research at SLU Umeå is the innovative research company Arevo.
Arevo has developed a new product for fertilisation of forest plants based on arginine phosphate. arGrow Granules are sent out with the plant at the time of planting, and mean that the newly planted tree will more quickly develop a strong root system. In addition to improved establishment and growth, arGrow Granules facilitate a reduction in the need for soil preparation. There is great interest, and Arevo is thus investing in large-scale production, with a new factory in the Dåva area of Umeå.
Molecular biologist and international business developer
Although Maria is new to her role of business and innovation Advisor at SLU Holding in Umeå, she has extensive experience collaborating with researchers and innovators with the common goal of reaching out with research that is of benefit to society – both in the role of researcher in the field of molecular biology and as an international business developer at North Sweden Cleantech.
“Many researchers have entrepreneurship in their blood, but others have not even thought about it. But there’s nearly always curiosity about these matters. A lot of people wonder how things work if you progress your idea, and how things would go if you did. With the challenges we face as far as tackling climate change and achieving sustainable food production is concerned, it is important that SLU researchers’ extensive knowledge base be utilised. Our role at SLU Holding is to provide support and assistance in this work. It’s also important that the solutions you push are in demand, and that ideas are tried out on potential customers at an early stage. So as to succeed, it’s valuable to have a dialogue under way in order to gradually develop solutions that are of interest and can be progressed. Our role at SLU Holding is helping with this work,” says Maria.
More specifically, Maria means supports with practical matters such as contact with lawyers and patent agents, financing of validation activities and advice on business development and market surveys. SLU Holding can also make a financial contribution by investing in new startups.
Efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly innovations
“I believe in collaboration, and in researchers/entrepreneurs with our support and input from partners and clients being able to develop the ideas, technologies and new opportunities we need in order to find solutions to the big challenges we’re facing,” says Maria Klintenäs, business and innovation advisor at SLU Holding.
Maria's top tips for those wanting to progress their ideas:
1. Contact SLU Holding at an early stage.
2. Gather information on your prospective customers. Don't guess. At an early stage create a dialogue that provides you with knowledge.
3. Build up a team around you. Don’t do everything by yourself.
4. If you don’t wish to utilize your splendid ideas yourself – remember that there may be driven entrepreneurs with the ability to develop them.