”Being an entrepreneur is a way of life”
Entrepreneur Jan G. Smith, co-founder of ABIGO Medical, is a driving force in promoting life science on both a national and international level. He’s, for instance, one of the initiators of the Sahlgrenska Science Park and board member of several European trade associations.
In 1989, Jan G. Smith founded ABIGO Medical together with his brother Leif. They’re still the only board members of the company, which they own together.
ABIGO Medical has its headquarters in Askim, Göteborg and a 3,000 sqm production plant located in Askersund, Örebro County. The company owns, develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of OTC and prescription pharmaceuticals as well as a range of medical devices for advanced wound healing and ENT.
”We’re the only manufacturer of advanced wound healing products in Sweden,” says Jan G. Smith.
The two brothers have built the company from scratch and today their products are distributed in some 60 countries through own sales organisations and partners. ABIGO has 115 employees and last year, it had a growth of 35% and the budget for 2015/2016 is MSEK 275-300. The company enjoys an AAA credit rating. Jan G. Smith is positive about the future outlook.
”Yes, I'm very positive about ABIGO's future. The company makes good profit and will continue to grow. We now invest MSEK 30 to expand our production plant, and we have a range of new and exciting products in the pipeline and will reach new markets,” he says.
Even though he’s passed the official age of retirement he has no intention to withdraw from the company.
”Being an entrepreneur is a way of life. It still gives me great joy to work and I want everyone working here to feel the same joy. Our employees are our most important asset. During the last two years, we’ve hired 40 new, highly-skilled, professionals,” says Jan G. Smith, who got some of his entrepreneurial spirit from his years in Montreal, Canada.
”I find it hard to deal with people with a negative attitude. In Montreal, where I completed my university education and lived for ten years, I got inspired by the North American go-ahead approach. Swedes tend to be very problem orientated when trying to achieve something. In North America they focus on the opportunities and solve the problems as they arise,” he says.
Self-financed from start
Another aspect boosting his joy is the fact that ABIGO Medical has been self-financed from start, which gives the founders great freedom in how to operate their business.
”I think too many people in Sweden rely on venture capital to establish and expand their business. The venture capitalists are seldom interested in the companies they invest in. Their aim is to sell within 3-5 years, with high returns,” says Jan G. Smith.
In contrast, he’s passionately engaged in the life science industry and a driving force in promoting life science on both a national and international level. He’s, for instance, one of the initiators of the Sahlgrenska Science Park of which he was the chairman during thirteen years. He’s also co-founder and board member of several trade associations.
When asked about what he wishes to see in terms of political or governmental policies when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship in Sweden he says:
”It would be good to have one national organisation with regional representatives that could guide the innovators and entrepreneurs to the right authority through the entire process, from idea to product launch. Today, the innovation chain is fragmented.”
Tax incentives is also something that he thinks would benefit business development in the life sciences.
”Perhaps it's achievable in a foreseeable future given the interest that the Minister for Enterprise, Mikael Damberg, has taken in the life science industry,” he concludes.
Board Appointments Held by Jan G. Smith
Executive Chairman of ABIGO Medical.
Co-founder, 12 years ago, of Europharm SMC, an association for SME pharmaceutical companies in Europe, located in Brussels. Served as its second chairman and is still member of the board.
Co-founder and President of the European Confederation of Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs (EUCOPE), located in Brussels.
Board member of Läkemedelsindustriföreningen (LIF), the trade association for the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden.
Co-founder and Chairman since 25 years of IML, a trade organisation for innovative Swedish SME pharmaceutical companies. The association is affiliated with LIF.