We are excited to introduce the latest addition in our Life Science fund team, Sara Kangaspeska. We asked Sara a few questions, to introduce herself to all of you in her own words.
Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in Ruovesi, Finland, and studied biochemistry and cell biology at Åbo Akademi, followed by genetics studies in the US. I have a PhD from the University of Heidelberg and I did my thesis work at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Germany. I have also studied economics at Aalto University and taken the Patents-Industry-Technology program at Aalto Pro.
After completing my PhD I was working as a research scientist and a project manager at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) for nearly six years. It was at FIMM, where I first discovered what commercializing research actually requires and what the pharmaceutical industry expects from research.
Altogether, until now, I have spent around ten years with early-stage life science inventions, all the way from identifying viable ideas and protecting them with IP-rights, to maturation, seeking funding and commercialization either as IP-licenses to industry or by pushing out new life science companies. First at Helsinki Innovation Services for almost six years, and after that at VTT being responsible for VTT biotechnology and chemistry patent and license portfolios.
What made you join Innovestor?
One main theme for me was the right kind of groove in doing things! Unfortunately science often has a very unexciting ring to it – but I personally feel that it’s both liberating as well as crucial that science can be turned into commercial projects and this way used for much wider good.
I am also very excited to work along Pekka, Milla and Petri, all of whom I have crossed paths with in the past. We form a great team together, complementing each other’s skills and experience nicely. This fund was long overdue – it was the missing piece in commercializing life science in Finland.
Finally, I see my new role as a natural next step for me in order to continue utilizing my experience, contacts and networks in a wider context as well carving out more success stories from the Finnish science and innovation pipeline.
What does your role involve?
As an Investment Director in the Life Science fund I will be screening and evaluating potential companies to invest in, specifically focusing on due diligence in the scientific and IPR side of things.
I will also be helping some of our target companies as a part-time COO in an advisory capacity. This way I will stay close to ensure everything runs to plan and the conditions for funding are met.
In addition to bringing my researcher skills to the table I am also bringing something that researchers may often lack; being able to push science-based inventions into commercialization and taking them global. Thus I will also be acting as the first point of contact at Innovestor.
Anything else you would like to add?
It is amazing that science has such a great basis in Finland. It makes me proud we have a player like Innovestor, making good money based on solid, scientific information! Everyone’s opinion has value and continuous exchange of views is important, as long as the emphasis is on science-backed data.
Thank you Sara for your interview – and welcome onboard!