An insight into the Global Swede Award – Interview with 2016 Award Holder from KI

One of my latest blogs briefly touched upon the notion of Global Swede Award, and, though, as of now there is a plethora of articles on the topic, I reckoned the firsthand information would serve as a nice addition. So, half an hour before this year’s graduation ceremony took place (June 2nd), we sat with Hugo Morales, 2016 award winner from KI, and discussed the intricacies of the nomination. I would now like to present you the outcome of our very amicable and prolific conversation and would also like to thank Hugo for his time, knowledge and experience sharing! Enjoy! 🙂

A:What is your background?

H:I studied pharmaceutical chemistry in Mexico, I lived there for 22 years, then I did an exchange in Vancouver. I finished my Bachelors and started working for almost two years in a med tech company, and then I moved to Sweden to study Bioentrepreneurship (BE) at Karolinska.

A:Why did you choose BE?

H:Because in this programme you can combine life science and business and administration thinking. So, when I was working I felt I only had a background in life science, and I did not have this commercial and business thinking. The BE programme is focused on students with life science background and teaches them how to do business, how to develop and market products. So, that’s why I studied this programme. And also because it has three different internships. We are placed in three different companies, if we want, and it is almost one year of practical placements. So, it is a lot of practice during the programme.

A:What is the Global Swede Award (GSA) and how does the nomination work?

H:The GSA is an award in innovation and entrepreneurship, which is given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation of Sweden. It is given to international student meaning non-EU students. Each university in Sweden nominates one student for this Award and it is based on the activities students have done in this two years of their studies – it is for Master Students. So, they need to have accomplished something within innovation and entrepreneurship. The background of the students is quite diverse: there are business students, life science students, architecture, IT. So, it is really diverse. What the Swedish Government is trying to do is … they are trying to build a network among these students who have performed well, so that these students could then promote interaction between their countries and Sweden.

A:Apart from being a non-EU student, what are the other criteria for the nomination?

H:You need to have outstanding grades, outstanding performance, to be involved in extra-curricular activities. So, I have been a part of iGEM Team ( There is  also a summer camp organised by five universities in the Nordic countries. So, I went representing my Programme. There were five people from Karolinska Institutet, and I was the one from BE. Also, – Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship – they also have some bootcamps and some courses. I went with them to the USA to work on a project. And all of these activities were in addition to my studies.

A:But the main condition is to have that entrepreneurship/ innovation-related idea, isn’t it?

H:Yes, and every student at Karolinska can be nominated, not only from BE Programme.

A:Who is responsible for the nomination on KI’s part? Is it your Programme Director, Supervisor, or…?

H:I believe Programme Directors nominate students from their programmes, and then there is one person responsible from KI, who selects one student to be nominated. So, many students can be nominated within Karolinska. There can be, for instance, five students nominated within Karolinska, and then they choose one to be representative for Karolinska at the Award Ceremony. So, the GSA is for the students who have won the nomination of the University.

A:How does the application process work? Apart from scoring “all VGs” ( 😉 ), do you have to submit an essay, a statement letter…?

H:No, you just get nominated. The Director of the Programme nominates you because of all the things you have done during these two years. So, there is no self-nomination or anything like that.

A:How are you planning to use this recognition in your future endeavours?

H:It is great to be recognised as a Global Swede. It is a nice award. As the name entitles, I think I will stay global. Future plans… I am looking for job options here in Sweden, in Germany, or somewhere in Europe. It depends on where I will find a perfect company for my objectives. So, I do not really mind the place.

A: Any advice for first year and prospect students at KI?

H: There are lot of opportunities at KI and in Sweden, not only within Karolinska, but there is also a huge network with other universities. There is Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, there are many competitions in innovation… So, there are tons of opportunities for students, if they want to do something within innovation or entrepreneurship. And it is not only for entrepreneurship students, but for all students from all other Master’s Programmes.



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