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Evolving MSC: Introducing new CEO

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We have some exciting news here in the MSC team. Co-founder Tobias Thornblad is handing over the CEO torch to Julia Fransson. While Tobias will still be present in the role as Chair of MSC, Julia will take the helm starting early 2022.

MSC Nordics was officially founded in 2014, then under a different name and slightly different offering. Much has evolved since then; both in the Nordic biotech space as well as in the MSC team and our now broader mission of empowering biotechs to attract investment and strike partnerships.

Julia Fransson has been with the company for just over three years and has contributed to the management of the team and company since the start. Her extensive background in biotech, consulting and growth companies coupled with experience from a previous CEO role enables her to ‘hit the ground running’ and just barely shifting gears.

Julia got the opportunity to tell us more about her and her views on the future here:

What do you see as the biggest strength of our company right now?

Now, as always, I consider our team to be our strongest asset. Everyone at MSC is passionate about commercializing bioscience innovations and dedicated to always walk the extra mile for both clients and each other.

The team uniquely and successfully combines individuals with different cultural, educational and professional backgrounds. I am proud over how we leverage this to provide quality insights and materials to our clients.

I believe, and I know many clients agree, that what really sets MSC apart is our ability to analyze challenging technological aspects and translate these into strong messages for investors, shareholders, and partners.

What goal do you have for the company?

My focus will be to solidify MSC’s position as a leader when it comes to strategy, business development, valuation, and communication for Nordic life science companies. This entails leveraging both our current services as well as more recent additions, such as our valuation courses, and expanding our offering into new areas as we add new talent to our team.

MSC should be the chosen partner for all Nordic biotech companies looking to raise capital or strike strategic partnerships.

“One of my top priorities in the next year will be to strengthen MSC’s presence across the Nordics.”

What was the path you took to get to where you are today?

Since my very first chemistry class in middle school, I have had a strong interest in science, and specifically life sciences. Throughout my studies at Chalmers, first in biotechnology followed by a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and business design, I gradually realized that I wanted to keep my focus on biosciences but work closer to the business-end rather than the laboratory.

After graduating, I spent five years in Stockholm at an early-stage investor in high-tech ventures first as a business development consultant followed by a role where I evaluated new investments as part of the venture team. Lastly, taking a large step out of my comfort zone, I took a position to head up a construction robotics company. Despite it being challenging and developing to work in a field of technology and industry where I needed to learn everything from scratch, I gradually longed to move closer to home, both geographically and in terms of subject matter. This prompted me joining MSC Nordics and returning to Gothenburg, which has now been my home over the last three years.

Why did you want to become CEO of this company?

The easy answer is, I can’t think of a better company to work for. I feel honored to get the opportunity to keep building on the solid foundation that Tobias and Björn have established and lead the MSC forward.

We have a client base that inspires and challenges us to always think smarter; and an everchanging industry that requires constant evolvement together with our clients to continue to keep them competitive. Further, we have a warm and welcoming company culture and a team with a common motivator to be part of bringing new medicines and medical innovations to patients in need.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next year?

One of my top priorities in the next year will be to strengthen MSC‘s presence across the Nordics. Currently, MSC is well-known within the Swedish life science landscape and I want to work towards building our brand in all the Nordic countries.

A second priority is to expand the team, so clients can already now look forward to meeting several new highly talented and dedicated MSC team members in the coming year.

What makes you excited about Mondays?

When I’m not at work you can find me spending time with my family and friends. I have two young sons and enjoy exploring the world with them. Right now I’m looking forward to the time when the pandemic is behind us so that we can go to more places than our local forest and playground!

Although I love my kids and the fast-paced chaos that they’ve brought into my life, it’s always nice to step into the calm of our office on Monday mornings knowing that even our most demanding clients will have miles more patience and reasonable requirements than the two bosses at home. I am privileged to be able to combine both worlds!

Tobias Thornblad, co-founder of MSC, will continue to be present in the Nordic biotech industry but divide his focus on a number of different avenues. Tobias will transition to serve as the Chair of the Board for MSC; and, continue as the Chair of BioStock, a leading news outlet for the Scandinavian life science industry.

Björn Carlsson, co-founder of MSC, will continue to support the company through an advisory role as part of the company’s Board.

Team profile: Johan Olsson

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Johan Olsson joined us right at the start of 2022 as a senior management consultant. He brings a wealth of international experience from having spent the last 15 years abroad. Luckily for us, he is as passionate about the life science industry as we are and has gained expertise in everything from valuations, building and scaling companies to understanding the investor mindset. We are excited to have him bolster our skillset as part of the MSC team – welcome Johan!

Can you tell us about your background?

Well, it’s quite a broad question, so let me start to tell you a bit about myself and my journey that led me to where I am today.

Early on, I realized the life science, and in particular biotechnology was a field that appealed to me, and as a result I completed a master’s degree in molecular biology and a bachelor’s degree focused on finance, together with oncology research at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

It was during the latter that I started to glance at the private sector and my professional career started to take form. My journey enabled me to experience many facets of the life science industry and it brought me to England, Switzerland and now back to Sweden.

Other than having had the opportunity to explore the Yorkshire moors, my four years at Pharmalicensing gave me the opportunity to build and lead a consulting division dedicated to life science licensing activities. I therefore moved to Switzerland to learn the art of valuation of life science ventures, while having the chance to explore the magnificent mountains, from Grisons to Valais.

After having dedicated five years on valuations of life science companies, I felt that it was time to use my acquired knowledge and “toolbox” to work operationally and assist entrepreneurs to accelerate their path towards the next value inflection point. This was the start of my entrepreneurial journey that allowed me to work with a range of innovation driven life science, social impact ventures and investors, as well as leading a three-year turn-around case of a Swiss CDMO company.

Looking back, it was an exciting time, where I learned a lot and built many long-term relations with likeminded people around the globe.

I very much appreciate that my career thus far has brought me to explore different cultures and given me the opportunity to be active in a range of industry verticals. This truly enables me to emphasize with and bring different stakeholders together, which is paramount while working with entrepreneurs to build and scale their businesses, and for projects that are focused on working closely with investors.

Returning to Sweden after having spent 15 years abroad was something that wasn’t planned, but covid-19 happened, so having a professional base closer to my family felt important.

“MSC Nordics utilizes its comprehensive understanding of valuation, business development and communication, as a foundation for assisting its clients to develop data driven strategies.”

Why did you choose to join MSC?

I found it very appealing that MSC Nordics were involved in a variety of strategy-related topics; where MSC Nordics utilizes its comprehensive understanding of valuation, business development and communication, as a foundation for assisting its clients to develop data driven strategies.

It was also important that MSC Nordics is a small and focused boutique consulting firm that has a big potential, which was clear to me since the company established itself as a trusted firm within its ecosystem.

Finally, I must add that it was my first meeting with Tobias, Julia and Stine during the recruitment process that I felt that their values very much resonated with my own and that this was the professional environment that felt right for me.

What do you look forward to most in joining MSC?

I’m looking forward to sharing experiences with my colleagues, which will enable all of us to grow as individuals as well as professionals. Additionally, I look forward to having the joy of partaking in the very exciting growth journey that in my opinion awaits MSC Nordics.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? What are you most proud of in your professional life thus far?

The best career advice I had was to work with something that brings me joy. I would say that I’m most proud of having followed that advice through my career and for being very open to leaving my comfort zone several times. The latter was very much inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s “The man in the arena” speech at the Sorbonne on the 23rd of April 1910.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I’m passionate about sports (skiing, equestrian, tennis, fencing and general fitness such as calisthenics related exercises), cooking, psychology, innovation, longevity, personal development. Lastly, I must also add that I have been fortunate to view my work as a “hobby.”

Johan Olsson, senior management consultant
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