Invited Speakers

Jennie Ekbeck
Jennie Ekbeck – Photo: Lindsten & Nilsson

Jennie Ekbeck

CEO at Umeå Biotech Incubator, Sweden

Jennie Ekbeck has the rare honor of being decorated as «Innovations Angel» – an award given to a distinct person who contributes to a better innovation climate in Sweden. Ekbeck earned the title through her work at the Umeå Biotech Incubator (UBI), by improving the possibilities for Swedish scientists to approach the business world, and creating commercial products from ideas arising from their research.

– At UBI we work with people who are very competent and experienced within their field, but when they come to us they are novices… We match them with people who are as experienced as them, in drug- or product development, an equal partner with complementary know-how, she says in one interview.

Ekbeck is an expert on how to develop research within the Life Sciences into commercial businesses and has been invited speaker at Future Sweden Danish Life Science and Life Science Days, inspirational speaker at Swelife and contributed to panel conversations at Sweden bio and the Swedish Foundation for Strategis Research. She has experience with lecturing for both scientitsts and students.

John Sigrurd Mjøen Svendsen
John Sigurd Mjøen Svendsen – Photo: Marit Helgerud

John Sigurd Mjøen Svendsen

Professor of Organic Chemistry, at University of Tromsø – the Arctic University of Norway (UiT)

John Sigurd Mjøen Svendsen is the key researcher behind several of the large research projects at UiT where the common denominator is the quest to find molecules with features that can be used effectively in pharmaceuticals. The search area is – conveniently for the Tromsø researchers – where mollusks, marine fungus and micro algae gather: the ocean.
Material from the ocean and the ocean bed has been sampled by researchers for over a decade. Among other pharmaceuticals, John Sigurd and his colleagues are investigating whether the collected samples contain molecules that potentially can be developed into the new Antibiotics. Going through the samples in search of new drugs is not new. What is new with the approach, is that the researchers are developing new methods that enable improved analysis of the samples and molecules, than what was possible prior.
– We want to search for new Antibiotics where no one has searched before; we search for larger molecules with antibiotic features, larger than the small ones that were discovered many years ago, John Sigurd said to a local Tromsø paper earlier this year.
An important factor that enables this approach; to develop new methods, is the super computer UiT inaugurated two years ago. The computer has the largest computational capacity in Norway, larger than all other current computational systems in the country – altogether. John Sigurd’s research projects are a heavy client of the super computer.
The unique computer is also a vital tool in another of John Sigurd’s projects, where they are searching for marine molecules to use in pharmaceuticals to combat an enzyme believed to cause Alzheimer. – Once we have the three best candidates of this molecule, my work with this is over. Then remains the testing on animals and patients, and then preparations for manufacturing. We are going to move from mg to kg, so we need to build industry, said John Sigurd in this interesting article in Teknisk Ukeblad: Skal kurere Alzheimer med norskutviklet medisin (in Norwegian).

Heidrun Åm
Heidrun Åm – Photo: Thor Nielsen/span>

Heidrun Åm

Senior Researcher at the Centre for Technology and Society at the Department for Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, NTNU

Over multiple years, Heidrun Åm has explored the governance of science and technology in her research, emphasizing mainly on nano- and biotechnology, sustainable energy and society, and interdisciplinarity. Her political science background is an important contribution to the society-oriented mission of the Centre for Digital Life Norway. Consequently, it is perhaps no surprise that Heidrun also leads a DLN-project exploring questions of social responsibility and social concerns arising from computational biotechnology: «Res Publica. Responsibility, practice, and the public good across Digital Life».

At Digital Life 2019, Heidrun will ask which common good we talk about when we talk about value creation through Digital Life Norway. By explicating what is at stake, she will offer a critical evaluation of different paths towards the future.