The kernel of the UU Innovation Mentor Programme is the relationship and dialogue between researcher and mentor. Each mentor has been chosen with care to boost the development of the researcher’s idea. In parallel with mentorship, researchers receive ongoing support from UU Innovation. The aim of the programme is to accelerate the utilisation of new ideas and research results.

“Mentors act as an additional sounding board and can bring new perspectives and networks that may help the researchers’ innovation projects to progress that bit further and faster,” says Frida Henningson Johnson, business advisor at UU Innovation and joint programme coordinator together with colleagues Nhils Forslund and Hillevi Englund.

Researchers and mentors meet regularly over the course of the programme at mutually agreed intervals. Many of them had already met or had a meeting booked by the time the kick-off meeting was held.

New skills and a roadmap

Ten doctoral students and researchers are participating in the programme this autumn. One of them is Micheline van Riemsdijk of the Department of Human Geography, who is leading a Forte-funded research project on the social integration of highly qualified refugees in Sweden. She reached out to UU Innovation for advice on how to communicate results from the project, which she is convinced will be of considerable benefit.

“I realised that it demanded a different approach and new expertise that one doesn’t learn in academia. With the help of UU Innovation, I wanted to find out how I can make my knowledge useful to stakeholders working with integration: what specific steps I needed to take, what commitment it would involve and how it could be financed,” explains van Riemsdijk.

Successful matching

The mentor assigned to her was Mikael Persson, cofounder and CEO of Academicum, a company dedicated to providing foreign-born academics with shortcuts to employment that matches their qualifications.

“Mikael is ideally suited to provide additional support for my project. He started his company after seeing how difficult it was for migrants from academic backgrounds to find work in their area of expertise. He knows what it takes to realise an idea and to develop a practical solution to an integration challenge,” says van Riemsdijk.
“I hope to have a concrete plan in place by December with clear stages of progression.”