Pernilla Isberg, Director Operations, AZ BioVentureHub at AstraZeneca, and Tobias Tovedal, business coach at UBI.

The AstraZeneca Exchange Nordic mentorship program provides expert advice to Nordic life science startups and entrepreneurs. For Umeå Biotech Incubator (UBI) the program has proven to be an invaluable tool for the startups it coaches – offering a range of advice from market and needs analysis to more specific technical questions.
“It’s fantastic that we have the opportunity to tap into all the expertise available within AstraZeneca”, says Tobias Tovedal, a Business Coach at UBI.

AstraZeneca is a global pharmaceutical company with over 80,000 employees worldwide. It started its AstraZeneca Exchange Nordic mentorship program in 2017 as a way of giving back to the life science industry.
The program pairs entrepreneurs and startups with experts and mentors at AstraZeneca. The idea is to share knowledge and experiences linked to science or business that entrepreneurs can benefit from as their companies grow.

“We have more than 300 employees globally who have signed up to be mentors on a non-profit basis. Startups shouldn’t pitch for partnering via this program. It is about knowledge exchange where we offer to provide input based on our perspectives of the questions being raised”, says Pernilla Isberg, Director Operations, AZ BioVentureHub at AstraZeneca.

“When we receive a question, we send it out to our global list of mentors, who will inform us about their interest. We aim to assign 1-3 mentors to each case, preferably with different skills to encourage more perspectives and experiences”.

UBI joined the mentorship program in 2018

UBI has been part of the mentorship program since 2018 and many of its entrepreneurs and startups have received constructive and valuable feedback which they use to fine-tune their operations and business plans. UBI’s business coaches help the startups to submit an application containing non-confidential information to AstraZeneca before the parties meet digitally.

“Experienced people are needed for startup companies to avoid expensive mistakes from the outset, but they are often difficult to recruit. That’s why it’s invaluable to get access to such expertise via AstraZeneca Exchange Nordics,” says Tobias Tovedal, a Business Coach at UBI.

“Enables us to obtain knowledge and advice”

NanoBio Select@, which develops products to improve precision diagnostics, is one such startup supported by UBI that has benefited from AstraZeneca’s mentoring program.

“This opportunity enables us to reach out to experts in our field and obtain knowledge and advice that supports our product development. It also helps us expand our networks”, says Xian Li, Project Manager for NanoBio Select@.

She continues: “We had a meeting with two experts from AstraZeneca, who shared their view of our industry, such as possible diseases or areas where our project can be applied. The experts also introduced us to a contact that may be of significant value to our project. The mentors in AstraZeneca Exchange Nordic feel committed and keen to help in a friendly and informal way”.

Read more about the AstraZeneca Exchange Nordics here.