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The digital Brighter program visited five countries

Lisa Bäckman looking up at the houses on a New York street with a KTH tote bag on her arm.
Last year, the Brighter program visited New York, Boston and Munich. This year, the program was fully digital and visited five cities over the course of four weeks.
Published Dec 01, 2020

For the first time, KTH Innovation ran a fully digital version of the Brighter program, with double the number of participants and in more countries than ever.

Every year since 2012, KTH Innovation has brought startup and commercialization projects to places around the world that are especially strong when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship. Over the course of four weeks, the program visited five countries.

- We could cover more parts of the world without losing focus says Viktor Olsson, Program and Community Manager at KTH Innovation. Even though we’re in a special situation right now, our work continues and we’re grateful to have a great network where many were willing to engage.

New opportunities in a digital program

The Brighter program is KTH Innovation’s internationalization program. The program gives startup and commercialization projects an opportunity to get early contact with the international market, for inspiration and networking.

One participant in the program was Petra Szeszula, one of the founders of Andning Med , a medtech startup developing aids for elderly with respiratory disease.

- Thanks to the program being digital, I could manage to visit places and meet important people all around the world, says Petra Szeszula. With my tight schedule, if I had to travel physically, I would be able to choose only one event, if any. To see it all, it made me realize how each culture is different and how important it is to adjust your view to different perspectives if you want to do business.

First time in Asia

After going exclusively to Silicon Valley for the first six editions, in 2018 the program expanded to cover three places per year, including cities like New York, Boston and Munich. This year, KTH Innovation introduced two new locations, adding London and the first Asian city, Tokyo.

- The program aims to create a higher understanding of how the international market works, says Viktor Olsson. It’s a chance to network, exchange ideas and to ask all your questions in a safe setting.

Network and alumni came together

Over the course of four weeks, the participants in the program took part in insights in the local markets from Nordic Innovation House in Silicon Valley and Tokyo, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in London and Boston, heard from others in the innovation eco system, like the UnternehmerTUM, BMW Startup Garage, and Innovation Lab Asia. They met with successful venture capitalist firms like Lakestar and Nordic Ninja, and heard KTH alumni share their international experiences after graduation. Petra Szeszula continues:

- I could identify with certain features of the mentality of each of the places we visited. To make a new business flourish, it is crucial to be in the right environment and place your company in the midst of it - low legal barrier to start the company like in Great Britain, as well as the "pay it forward" attitude of Silicon Valley, or strong support from the bigger industry like in Germany or Japan. I feel that Sweden has yet another approach, strong push for leading edge innovation from the government and the whole society. Sweden is also very open to learn and I think that is why a relatively smaller country can have such a strong position.

Dr. Langer a highlight

A computer screen where Robert Langer is holding a presentation over Zoom.
Dr. Robert Langer from MIT shared insights from his career as a researcher and entrepreneur. One of the many companies he has founded is Moderna, that has developed a promising vaccine candidate against Covid-19.

For many, the highlight was a webinar with Dr. Robert Langer from MIT, who shared experiences from his long and successful career as a researcher and entrepreneur. One of the many companies Langer has founded is Moderna, one of the companies that have developed a very promising vaccine candidate against Covid-19.

A final pitch night

On December 1st, the program ends with a pitch night, where 10 teams pitch to a panel including representatives from Lakestar and Nordic Ninja, as well as KTH alumni Per Sundström, Management Consultant at Business Sweden in New York, and Sebastian Nordgren Director at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, formerly Senior VP at Citi.

The Brigher Program returns in 2021

Thank you to everyone involved in making this program a success. Running a fully digital program has brought new opportunities and insights. The program will be back in 2021, but if it will be digital, physical or a hybrid of the two remains to be seen. 

Text: Lisa Bäckman 

Belongs to: About KTH
Last changed: Dec 01, 2020