On April 28, 2021, I received from Sweden, a phone call that would define the next 2 years of my life. After a nerve-wracking wait of 3+ months, I found out that I had just been awarded a global master’s scholarship to study the Master’s Programme in Bioentrepreneurship at Karolinska Institutet (KI).
As you can imagine, I was ecstatic; this was a massive opportunity to study at one of the best universities in the world.
However, as I began to share the news with my friends and family back home in Nigeria, the reactions I got were mostly puzzling looks and various expressions of concern.
How will you overcome the language barrier in Sweden? What is bioentrepreneurship anyway? Are you sure this is the right program for a medical doctor to do? These and many more were the questions I was repeatedly asked.
What I began to realize was that many people I spoke to had not even heard about KI (surprising, right?), and it was clear that they held many misconceptions about Sweden. That was evidently the reason they could not understand what a big deal this was for me.
In this first blog post, I will tell you briefly how come I ended up studying the Master’s Programme in Bioentrepreneurship (MBE) at KI.
More importantly, over the next 2 years, I will take you alongside this exciting journey at KI and Sweden in general. And if you are like many of my friends, I hope you can begin to understand why I chose to study the MBE.
To start with, what is a medical doctor doing studying bioentrepreneurship
Yes, I am a physician. One with a deep love of science and a passion for touching the lives of others. Let me tell you why the MBE is the perfect master’s programme for me.
The MBE builds on the existing scientific knowledge of students and equips them with business skills for working in and starting life science companies. Life science in the context of the programme refers to drug development, diagnostics & medical devices, and digital innovation as it relates to human health.
While working in one of the largest hospitals in my country, I had seen firsthand the ‘magic’ of groundbreaking therapies and at some point, grew a desire to be a part of their development.
I knew I wanted to help bring these therapies to the people who needed them and started searching for opportunities that will give me the necessary business skills to complement my medical background.
The answer to that is the MBE. When I discovered the programme approximately 1 year ago, I was captivated. I decided to apply and the rest, as they say, is history…
So, why should scientists even study business in the first place?
It is simple; too many times there is a fundamental disconnect between scientists who create innovation and businesspeople who commercialize them.
It is clear that a great need exists within the life sciences for professionals who can speak both the languages of science and business and consolidate the goals of all stakeholders.
By training a new generation of life science leaders who understand the unique intersection of science, management, business strategy, and the ethical principles of new therapies, KI is helping to transform the life science sector into one that is able to deliver products to the bedsides of patients in safer and more efficient ways.
Needless to say, the MBE is targeted at students with a science/healthcare background who are passionate about the life science industry and aspire to gain business leadership skills. (I shall explore the diverse academic and professional backgrounds of my current cohort in coming posts).
Finally, I chose KI, not Sweden, but…… (I have since fallen in love with the country as well)
Since I can remember, I have been interested in science especially the areas of biology and healthcare. Because of this, I had become aware of KI’s reputation for outstanding research and its central role in the Nobel prize for medicine or physiology.
I wanted to be near groundbreaking medical research while getting a world-class education in a diverse class, and these among other things are what KI offers.
The excellence at KI is reflected in the consistently high rankings the university has, for example, the latest Times Higher Education world ranking places KI as number 39 in the world, despite being a one faculty university.
On the contrary, I had put little thought into moving to Sweden itself. However, once I began to research about the country too, I realized why it is widely regarded as one of the best places in the world to study and to live. The spirit of lagom (balance) in the society, the stunning scenery, and the culture of sustainability (think recycling and zero-emission vehicles) are features of the country I find interesting.
Another amazing thing is how well English is spoken in Sweden. The general population has such a good grasp of the language that it is easy to forget to it is the second language here.
And the icing on the cake? Sweden is one of the most innovative countries, including being a leader in life science innovation. And this makes it the perfect location for studying the MBE programme.
Of course, there has been some culture shock as well (I still can’t believe my professors are okay with me calling their first names), also, adapting to the weather is a long story for another day.
Nevertheless, the transition has been thrilling and full of life lessons.
Here’s a final thought…
For you who is a scientist/healthcare professional/student in a scientific field and are interested in helping to build science-based companies, I can think of no better academic foundation than the MBE at KI.
If you have any further questions, you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi! I am Umar from Nigeria, currently studying for a master's in bioentrepreneurship. I like science and business, and my programme is right at the intersection of both. I also like football, Formula 1, cats, and hot chocolate. And here's a random fact - I can name the capital city of nearly all the countries on the planet. Feel free to put this to test if we run into each other. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.