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NLS Profile Abroad: Rafael Natanek

Rafael Natanek
Rafael Natanek was raised and educated in Sweden. He spent 15 years working out of the UK, serving life science companies across Europe and the U.S. Today he is located in the Netherlands, investing in and supporting life science companies across Northern Europe to grow their businesses. "The largest difference is really between the US and Europe," he says when I ask him about differences between the countries’ life science industries. "The USA is by far the larger life science hub, as over the last century it has been able to successfully weave together research, funding and entrepreneurs." At the same time, it has been encouraging to observe the growth in the European life science landscape over the last couple of decades, he adds. "Over this period we have seen a rapid growth in venture capital and private equity funding, supporting an increasing number of entrepreneurs in growing their companies. This has translated in the expansion of biotech hubs across the continent, not least in regions like the UK, Scandinavia, Switzerland, BeNeLux, France and Germany." Different approaches to education and career As a student of chemical engineering at Lund Institute  of Technology and biomedical sciences at Lund University, Sweden, Rafael observed a very sequential approach to how he and his fellow students approached education and career. "In contrast, people in several European countries seem to interweave academia with their professional career a bit more." "You typically finished your studies by getting your Master’s degree. Unless you decided to pursue a PhD, you entered the career stage of your life, which continued until your retirement," he says. “In contrast, people in several European countries seem to interweave academia with their professional career a bit more,” he continues, and gives us an example: "A student in the UK might, after having finished their Bachelor’s, move to a company and work there for a year or two before returning to school to do their Masters or an MBA. Having finished that, they might take another stint in the private sector before returning to do a PhD, and then move into a life science company." Read more: Gitte Pedersen: “Invent and invest in positive change for the future” The different parts of the life science value chain His own studies took him to UC Berkeley, California, where he did research for his Master’s Thesis. After having graduated, Natanek moved into consulting, first at McKinsey and later as a Partner at Bain & Co in London. "There I split my time between serving life science companies and leading healthcare due diligences for private equity funds," he describes. The benefit of working in an international management consulting firm is that you have the opportunity to serve different types of industries on a varied set of issues across the globe, he believes. "On the corporate side, I worked with management teams of healthcare, pharma, and medtech companie
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