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KTH Innovation launches new mentor program for researchers

Portrait of Elaheh Etemadi
Elaheh Etemadi, PhD student at the Department of Solid Mechanics got a mentor through KTH Innovation.
Published Oct 29, 2020

In the program, KTH Innovation will match KTH researchers and employees with experienced business mentors, who will bring new perspectives on research impact and commercialization and can open doors to the business community. The aim is to support more researchers at KTH in their efforts to create impact in society.

Portrait of Magnus Oskarsson
Magnus Oskarsson is Project Manager Business Relations at KTH Innovation.

- As a researcher, you know a lot about your field and the academic world, but it’s not given that you’ve had a lot of contact with the business community. A researcher who has just started to create impact or develop an idea will run into many questions on the way. To sit down together with a mentor with business experience can bring new perspectives, says Magnus Oskarsson, Project Manager Business Relations at KTH Innovation.

The core is personal conversation

Many universities around the world run similar programs, among them MIT, that KTH Innovation visited last year during the internationalization program Brighter. The mentor will not replace the business development coach from KTH Innovation, but will run in parallel and add an extra dimension of support and insights.

- The core of the program is the personal conversation between the researcher and mentor, continues Magnus. They get a chance to sit down to discuss concrete challenges that the researcher faces in their commercialization project, and exchange experiences with each other. The mentor can help break down goals in smaller steps or develop strategies to bring the idea forward.

The program runs for six months, with a kick-off and final session for all participants. During the course of the program, it is up to the researcher and mentor to book their meetings according to their individual schedules.

"One of the best things that has happened at KTH"

One of the participants in the pilot this spring was Elaheh Etemadi, PhD student at the Department of Solid Mechanics at KTH. Elaheh was developing Joosh, a service to automate the inspection of welded joints. KTH Innovation connected her to Håkan Nytorp, who has 30 years of experience from ABB and is now an active investor.

- My mentor Håkan Nytorp taught me how to think, what's important to focus on and he opened doors to great contacts. Getting a mentor is one of the best things that has happened to me since I came to KTH. I would really recommend others to apply!

"Fun to work with younger people"

Interest in supporting innovators from KTH has been high, and since the pilot this spring the members in the mentor network has grown steadily. The mentors have volunteered to share their time and experience pro-bono, and it’s not just a one-way exchange.

- Elaheh is very ambitious and asked great questions, says Håkan Nytorp. It's a lot of fun to work with younger people and follow their thought process. Being a mentor was a learning process for me as well. I can contribute with experience but I also wanted to get something out of our exchange, and that wish was granted above all expectations!

Application is now open

Application to the program is open until November 25th. Who should apply?

- The program fits both researchers who are interested in innovation and research impact, and those who have already started developing their commercialization project. What’s most important is that you’re curious, engaged, and willing to learn, finishes Magnus.

Belongs to: About KTH
Last changed: Oct 29, 2020