Jennie Ekbeck, CEO of Umeå Biotech Incubator

Jennie Ekbeck, CEO of Umeå Biotech Incubator, has been awarded an honorary doctorate for 2023 at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Umeå University.
“I want research to benefit people, that is my driving force,” she says.

Umeå Biotech Incubator, UBI, is a biotech incubator that helps start-up companies to grow and become profitable. Today, UBI is one of the leading incubators in Europe in this field. During her years as CEO, Jennie Ekbeck has systematically built an operation that transforms research findings into innovations and products.

Jennie Ekbeck, who studied biomedicine at Umeå University, is deeply touched by the recognition as an honorary doctorate – for several reasons.

“I thought I would become a researcher and get a PhD, but I have dyslexia and realized that a large part of being a researcher involves writing applications and articles, so I never obtained a doctoral title. This feels like recognition and appreciation from the university for my work. I was both moved and very grateful,” she says.

Since Jennie Ekbeck took up the position as CEO as a 33-year-old mother in 2012, she has put both the region and Umeå’s life science companies on the world map through UBI.

“People told me when I started that it’s impossible to build life science companies in Umeå, and we’ve proven them wrong,” she says.

Jennie Ekbeck also has a strong commitment to educational issues. She has been a driving force in linking industry with the educational programs at Umeå University, to make the educations more relevant and attractive. She has also created platforms for research groups in different areas at the university to meet.

“If we don’t conduct good research from the ground up at the university, there will be nothing to commercialize, and research need resources. If I can contribute to opening doors that then lead to utilization and commercialization, then it’s like a plant to later be able to harvest,” says Jennie Ekbeck.

UBI and Jennie Ekbeck have been nominated and awarded in several competitions concerning entrepreneurship, innovation and incubator activities. She won Veckans Affärer’s and Vinnova’s Innovation Angel of the Year award in 2015 and was nominated for CEO of the Year for small companies in 2021.

She also receives the honorary doctorate because she is passionate about promoting women’s engagement in innovation, entrepreneurship, and business in the technology industry, including by being a mentor and role model for women.

After eleven years as CEO, Jennie Ekbeck has now decided to move forward in her professional life, and she will be leaving UBI on June 9. She hasn’t yet decided what she will do next.

The installation of the faculty’s new honorary doctorate will take place at Umeå University’s Annual Celebration on October 21.