I am 55 years old and I have been living in Copenhagen, Denmark, together with my wife for over 35 years. Both my children have moved out, so it is nice and quiet at home. My daily life is focused on work and spending time with my wife and friends enjoying good food and wines.
When doing that, one realizes that some exercise is needed as well. Hence, I spend a lot of time on my racing bike, doing approximately 15,000 km annually, half of this number being my daily commute. I have persuaded my wife to start cycling as well, so that she gets an increased understanding of why I am spending a lot of time on the bike and also to devote a significant part of our vacations cycling and enjoying it together.
I work as a Principal R&D Engineer in the EMEA Corporate Science & Technology Organization (at the Bakken Research Center (BRC) in the Netherlands). Since I live in Denmark, I do not physically work at the facility in Maastricht but in our satellite laboratory in Copenhagen, where we do research on chemical and biochemical sensors. Since the work is physically detached from the Maastricht office, I work very independently and mostly with my project sponsors in different Medtronic operating units located in the US, e.g. Minneapolis (Minnesota), Los Angeles (California), Tempe (Arizona), New Haven (Connecticut), and in France (Lyon).
The work that I do, is very much hands-on laboratory work combined with a lot of data treatment. I also present data to interested internal stakeholders around the world and to our sponsors to show the progress in the research that I do. My work focuses on the development of biochemical, mechanical, optical and electrical sensors and diagnostics. That’s also where my expertise fits. And I am operating in a strong referral and academic network, with funding potential from public bodies to generate novel clinical evidence for (new) indications and care pathways.
I am trained as an organic chemist and graduated (Master of Science) from the University of Aarhus in Denmark in 1991. I also hold a bachelor’s degree in Physics from the same university. I have worked in sensor development almost my entire career. I started at Radiometer Medical in Copenhagen (Denmark) doing sensors for analyzers that are used in intensive care units (ICU), and later I became part of a start-up company (PreciSense) developing an optical method to build an implantable glucose sensor. This start-up company was acquired by Medtronic in 2009 – my way into the Medtronic family.
At Medtronic, I started in the Diabetes operating unit and 6 years later, I moved to Medtronic BRC. I am part of the corporate Research & Technology department, where I am still doing research on chemical and biochemical sensors. In October 2020, I became a Medtronic Technical Fellow.
The everyday challenge in my work is to keep the focus on the projects in order to maintain cadence and speed in the research progress. There are so many technical details that could be interesting to look at in more detail like a nerd, but prioritizing between ‘nice to know’ and ‘need to know’ must be sharp and maintained at all times. Also selecting the innovation projects and brainstorm sessions you are invited to participate in, need to be carefully selected – a difficult process of choosing between many exciting topics.
My high degree of freedom to shape the projects and decide on the actual tasks that I am doing, is a daily pleasure. I also feel that I am expanding my knowledge almost on a daily basis, i.e. growing as a person that becomes smarter and gets more insight. I also like that my colleagues provide useful feedback and are very helpful. I see no sign of internal competition – which would also be counterproductive in a research organization. I truly feel that Medtronic provides a challenging job that expands my horizon and puts me into contact with a team of extremely skilled persons – my colleagues all over the world.
When I meet people outside of Medtronic who ask what I do, they often do not know about Medtronic. I then always reply that they are lucky people, since we produce a lot of devices which people might need, but really don’t want if they had the option. I believe that working for Medtronic is an easy and good story to tell, because of the purpose and the business we are in – improving peoples’ lives as laid out in our mission.
Working together using the skills of everybody within Medtronic, will bring us further, not just by inventing new devices, but also by expanding the use of devices, covering more therapies and hence reaching more patients that can benefit from what we offer. I personally experienced the “together”, ranging from engineers to skilled workers, while working on the innovation of products. During an innovation session, some of the skilled production workers claimed that they were not innovative – but, of course, they ended the session coming up with some of the most innovative solutions to solving the problem – not a surprise to me. Together is truly ‘all together’, which will bring us further.
The most memorable experience at Medtronic for me is a bit nerdy. We had worked for about two years creating a potential device which was robust enough to be ready for an animal test – and when setting up the rodent test, we actually achieved very convincing results. Because of the intense work for several years with many failures and only a few successes, I still very well remember this test event when we obtained the robust data. Do not forget that doing research is a long-term effort that takes much patience – both from the sponsors and the researchers themselves.