Summary of LA Stockholm CING Talks No. 3 with Sara Wallin

The Chairman of LA Stockholm, Dennis Norman, welcomed around 40 Chalmers students and introduced Sara Wallin, CEO of Chalmers Foundation. Sara began her speech by saying she is a Chalmerist even though she doesn't have a Chalmers degree. Married to a Chalmerist and surrounded by them at work daily, Sara proudly carries the spirit of Chalmers (Chalmersandan).

Sara is passionate about bringing research into society for practical use. From startups to CEO at Almi Väst and then Chalmers Ventures, she is now the CEO of Chalmers Foundation.

Sara warmly discussed the vision of Chalmers, aiming to influence not only the future of Chalmers but also of Sweden. This is largely due to Chalmers being one of the strongest brands in Sweden, supported by students, alumni, researchers, and staff.

A notable alumnus mentioned was Marcus Wandt, a Chalmerist in space. Sara shared that among the few items Marcus took to the space station was a Chalmers flag!

However, not everything is perfect. We face major global changes. Sara emphasized that continuous technological development is not just necessary but critical to solving these challenges.

The EU and Sweden are falling behind in cutting-edge research. The EU's GDP is a shrinking portion of the global economy. Data indicates that Sweden's top research is declining, partly due to fragmentation. Thus, Chalmers' initiative is essential.

She cited positive examples, like the Wallenberg's investment in Per Delsing and Chalmers for quantum technology. Sara emphasized the need to build on Chalmers' strong position, focusing on excellence, combining top European academic quality and global leadership in quickly and effectively translating research to societal benefit.

Chalmers is Sweden's only technical foundation university. In her new role, Sara highlights the need to further develop Chalmers as a university group under a foundation model. Advanced research with 100 new researchers requires independent financing. The goal is to double the Foundation's capital from 10 billion to 20 billion SEK by 2041. Sara is confident this is achievable. The strategy includes building new companies, creating joint ventures, and focusing on fundraising.

Sara pointed to EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) as a role model for Chalmers. EPFL, similar in size to Chalmers, has undergone a similar transformation over the past 50 years, becoming one of the world's most respected technical universities, attracting students and researchers from 130 countries.

Sara concluded her talk by reflecting on her time at Chalmers Ventures, where she was CEO for over three years, creating the best university incubator in the Nordics based on an interesting evergreen model. She proudly shared some numbers: Chalmers Ventures is profitable with a 10-20% return, over 100 companies in the portfolio, with about 10 new companies added annually, and two exits in 2023.

Sara presented one of the unique companies in the portfolio, Elypta, which operates in cancer diagnostics, offering a platform for early detection and monitoring of cancer. This, according to Sara, shows how we can make a difference and impact our world. She noted the increasing interest in acquiring Swedish companies.

After the Q&A session, Sara stayed to continue the conversation with the mingling Chalmers students, with the sound of chatter rising in the room amidst beer, wine, and pizza.