To highlight the innovative women in our network, we interviewed a few of our contacts who are working on innovative solutions that challenge the status quo.
Innovation requires courage, intuition and thinking that extends beyond traditional measures of intelligence. In these interviews we shine a light on the innovation process and creative thinking behind the business solutions.
Dr Masha Strømme: Co-Chair and Investor at PAACS Invest
D.Phil in Genetics and Neuroscience from Oxford, Rhodes Scholar. Active owner of early stage Lifesciences companies, focused on Precision Health as an early stage Investor and Co-Chair of Norwegian family office PAACS Invest. 25+ years-experience in the life sciences sector including investment banking in UK and Norway (Morgan Stanley, Altium Capital, Arctic Securities). Directly involved in raising approx. NOK 500M recently for own portfolio companies within Precision Health, including listing of Exact-Tx (spin-off of GE Healthcare) on Oslo Euronext Growth in 2020.
Precision Health; 2022-ongoing, Co-founder and Chair of the Board.
Revolutionizing Mental Health: The Urgent Need for Better Tools in Diagnosing, Preventing & Treating Mental Health Disorders by Targeting the Estrogen Pathway
|EXACT-Tx||Ultrasound mediated drug delivery company, listed on Euronext Growth; First investor; 2022-ongoing Vice Chair of the Board; 2015-2022, Chair of the Board
|GenieUs||Precision Health genomics company focused on ALS, based in Australia; 2021-ongoing, Chair of the Board
|Hemispherian||Epigenetic therapeutics, focused on hard to treat cancer; first investor along with Investinor; 2020-ongoing, Board Member
|PubGene||Precision Health focused digital platform; 2019-ongoing, Board Member
Tell us a bit about your role?
Working with healthcare innovation and start ups relies on both “Art” and “Science” – as well as a large dose of diplomacy. I am still working on being better at the latter – dealing with people and founders in particular can be challenging. It takes a certain personality to be creative, to be innovative, and to continue to forge through the valley of death for the development of novel solutions.
My role is to recognise and understand great innovations within healthcare and help the developmental process so that the innovation becomes a success for the patients/healthcare community. I am still learning to recognise great inventors and how to best work with them.
What is a typical working day for you?
I have 4 children and 2 dogs – one of my children is now at university. My day typically starts with the family and the dogs… breakfast and lunch boxes!
I am executive chair of an Australian based company (ALS focused bioinformatics company GenieUs Genomics); so my mornings are normally spent with Australia – given the time difference, it is the only time of the day when the management team and I can coordinate and discuss strategy, plans, results, issues. Mid-morning and early afternoon, I am back in Norway, focusing on my Norwegian companies. Late afternoon and early evening I spend with my family and make calls with collaborators in the US and Canada.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Dealing with (difficult) founders and helping early stage companies become more outward focused. Complicated innovations within healthcare need good ambassadors and good networks for the solution to raise above the noise.
What are the most important skills needed for working in innovation driven sectors?
Grit, creativity and problem solving are all very important. As investors, we sometimes meet the Machiavellian narcissist who over-promises and systematically under delivers or, worse, lies. Reference: The End of Faking It in Silicon Valley
Do you prefer to collaborate on new ideas or do your best ideas come from deep thinking?
I enjoy both! Team work (when it works…) is wonderful!
Do you use a process to come up with ideas?
I am by nature very curious and love to discover novel solutions to problems. In order to be more selective, I rely on the “SO WHAT?” of the innovation. (This maybe obvious… but it did take a while for me to become more outward focused and think through: “How is this innovation going to improve on the existing standard of care or process?”)
How common are truly new ideas?
The data shows that truly novel ideas are less and less common. We are building on existing paradigms.
Where does the role of IP sit in the innovation process?
It is at its core! Without IP, the commercialisation process is significantly hindered. The advice on IP is extremely important: timing, scope, geographies…
Decisions on IP are typically made when the innovator has little capital, and in some cases, it is years later when the innovation is close to market that the extent of the mistakes becomes visible. Most ground-breaking innovations within healthcare have taken on average 2 decades and millions of pounds/dollars/euros to get to the market.
Do you have any advice for upcoming entrepreneurs and/or those working innovation driven careers?
– Focus on what is happening globally in your field: know the pipelines of your industry not just what is on the market.
– Your relationship with your capital providers is a partnership.