Jennie Ekbeck, CEO Umeå Biotech Incubator

UBI’s CEO Jennie Ekbeck turns 40 on July 6. She has been CEO of Umeå Biotech Incubator since 2012 and during that time she has achieved a lot in lifting the life science industry in the region and in Sweden.

What are the most important decisions you have made to become the leader you are today?

– I think, the most important decision is when I decided to apply to Essum. When I completed my studies at Umeå University, I saw a job advertisement where a biotechnology company was looking for a market-oriented student. It was Eva Grahn Håkansson’s company Essum, who invented Verum Hälsofil. I was 24 years old and Eva believed in me which made me dare to try things I had not done before. When she then founded Probac, she asked me if I was interested to start working there and after two years, Probac’s board offered me the opportunity to become CEO. Then I was 27 years old. I love to drive development and that was probably what the board saw in me. It’s important to have people who dare to see potential and who are interested in building people. It is something that I have brought with me into Umeå Biotech Incubator – that we should dare to see the potential of people and create conditions for them to be able to develop.

Up until now, wich success will you remember best?

– It is many! This week, Pia Keyser, a business coach at UBI, and I talked about my first time at the incubator. In the beginning we were in our cottage in Obbola and sketched up the directions to the vision that is now UBI’s. We wanted to create an incubator that is important for companies to be able to attract capital and grow in Umeå. It is really great to see all the companies that are emerging now, such as Nordic Biomarker, Inficure Bio, Hiloprobe and Lipum. I feel so proud of our companies and what they have achieved so far. I have great hopes that more companies will come from the great entrepreneurial climate here in Umeå. It’s a bit like hitting a ketchup bottle in glass. There is nothing, there is nothing and then everything comes at once.

How would you like to picture the future the life science industry?

– The vision for 2030 is that there will be several life science companies with headquarters in the Umeå region that have more than 20 employees – and some who may even have more than 50 employees. It is when we have companies with more than 20 employees that they can start creating specialists roles. That is necessary for us as a region to be able to have our own competence ecosystem.

You work very strategically with UBI – do you do the same in personal life?

– I do not know if my family would say I’m a strategist privately. I am determined and love to create things, and it probably affects my personal life as well. I love to draw up directions and create optimal interior solutions that are both stylish and practical. Lucky that my husband likes to build. At the moment, we are building a conservatory behind the garage that will fit the house – and be practical. There are not many standard angles on that roof, but it will be nice when it is finished.

How do you celebrate your birthday?

– Both me and my husband turns 40 the same year so we and our children are going on an island hop in Greece. We will leave all screens at home and just be in the moment. It feels like a good contrast to my daily life.