35 medical students develop new ideas at The Kitchen
October 27, 2023
BY SIGNE TRIER SIMONSEN
Entrepreneurship and studies in medicine can be combined. But it takes ideas, advice, and knowledge of the funding possibilities. This was the focal point when The Kitchen and the student association Alternative Interesseområder for Medicinstuderende (AIM) hosted their event ‘Entrepreneurial opportunities for medical students’ on the 4th of October.
“When first you start looking for things to improve at a clinical department, you suddenly start to notice a lot of issues! Not all of them have a commercial solution – but just noticing the opportunities makes a difference.”
Those are the words of Astrid Tausen, who studies medicine on her 7th semester. On a dark Wednesday in October, braising the wind and rain, she joined 34 other medical students at Aarhus University and headed to a presentation and workshop. The university startup hub The Kitchen and the student’s association Alternative Interesseområder for Medicinstuderende (AIM, meaning Alternative Fields of Interest for Medical Students) have decided to collaborate on spreading the knowledge of your entrepreneurial opportunities as a medical student. Anne Christine Kaae, a member of the association’s steering committee, says:
“The purpose of AIM is to promote different career paths than the traditional one as a medical specialist. As a medical student, it can be hard to figure out your opportunities and access to entrepreneurship, for example. And events like this help shed some light on those opportunities.”
Anne Christine Kaae has participated in an innovation program created by Novo Nordisk called Bio Innovation Internship, where she worked at a startup in the United States for a semester. This means that she has personal experience with having to create her own opportunities.
A role model and a non-brilliant idea
Exactly that journey from medical student to entrepreneur is one that doctor and biomedical designer, Mads Holbech Esmann, has been on. At the event, he explained how he spent several years helping develop and patent a sewing machine for wounds named The Stitcher. It was no easy task juggling both studies and startup, but he got help from The Kitchen. He says:
“I got the chance to do my clinical training in Aarhus, which meant that any excess time on my hands could be spent working on the startup. Additionally, The Kitchen helped set up an advisory board and contact patent agents, lawyers, and accountants.”
Aside from the presentation, the students took part in an idea generation process set up by two startup advisors from The Kitchen, one of them being Trine Hundevadt. She points out that too few people think that they can come up with a good idea – but that a good idea is not the point in the first place:
“Contrary to the popular belief about entrepreneurship that you need to come up with a brilliant idea, it really is just about finding a problem that a lot of people want a solution for. At the workshop, we had the students present problems they’ve met in person at hospitals. These could range from bed arrangements that are awkward to handle to no-show patients. If the problem is sufficiently big, it’s worth exploring whether there are grounds for a starting a business.”
More funding possibilities than ever
And the demand for innovation is high within life science. Perhaps, that’s exactly why there are more opportunities than before to commercializing those ideas, as life science advisor at The Kitchen, Terese Kellenberger Hybschmann, explains:
“We’re seeing more funding possibilities than ever, especially for medical students. For example, we have the BII Futures Grant at The Kitchen, where students and PhD’s in health sciences and similar disciplines can get DKK 50,000 for exploring a very early idea. Then there’s the Spin-outs Denmark program, which offers a year worth of funding for junior researchers looking to explore a commercial potential,” she says.
AIM and The Kitchen will continue collaborating and will be hosting more events with a commerciality focus during the next semester.
- Contact a startup advisor to learn about special events for students