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M arianne S koczek


Entrepreneurship That Saves Lives Biomedical Engineers Chart Lab-to-Market Path



iomedical engineer Julia Choi wants to move life-saving technologies out of the research lab and into the world. Toward that goal, she joined more than 40 fellow scientists and engineers from universities across the U.S. at the inaugural Biomedical Engineering Entrepreneurship Academy at UC Davis last summer. Participants, ranging from professors to first-year graduate students, brought their research in fields from cancer to cardiovascular medicine to neurology—and a thirst to see their work have a real-world impact. To spark teamwork and creative thinking on the first day, academy attendees team The week-long intensive academy, up to launch a malt ball into a cup 12 feet away using a few office supplies. Peter Hollender (left), a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Duke University, presented by the Graduate School of and Ye Chen-Izu, assistant professor in the Departments of Pharmacology, Medicine Management’s Center for Entrepreneurand Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis, take aim at their target. ship (now the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, see page 2), integrates lectures, exercises and team projects Lighting the Way to teach the building blocks of entrepreneurship. Kyriacos A. Athanasiou, chair of the UC Davis Department The program was co-sponsored by the UC Davis Departof Biomedical Engineering, shared his experience commerment of Biomedical Engineering and supported by the National cializing more than 15 technologies out of his campus lab. Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation: Medical His FDA-approved products include the first implant to treat Commercialization Clinic; SPIE, the international society for small cartilage lesions in the lab and an instrument that allows optics and photonics; and Global CONNECT, a university– the injection of drugs via the bone. “I am a proponent of based consultancy university scientists working with colleagues from industry focused on technology to translate mature research outcomes to products that save “The academy retaught me and innovation. lives or improve the quality of life,” Athanasiou said. “Participants created common sense through the University of Washington doctoral candidate Erik Feest is the first iterations of eyes of an entrepreneur.” developing a targeted gene therapy to improve the quality of business plans around life for heart attack survivors. The academy, he said, brought —RUBY KANDAH, Biomedical Engineering and their science—explicitly Biotechnology Program, University of Massachusetts home “the importance of considering the business plan and identifying the problems commercialization strategy early on in the R&D process.” their work solves, for Choi’s academy team presented a low-cost mobile platwhom and with what value,” explained Professor Andrew form to rapidly detect infectious diseases from a single drop Hargadon, who holds the Charles J. Soderquist Chair in Entreof blood. One team member recently launched a company to preneurship and founded the institute. bring it to market. Choi, who earned her Ph.D. at UC Davis, “They met with customers, crafted financial projections and is applying the academy’s lessons as an engineer and project set the first milestones for moving their ideas to the market. leader at Hayward, Calif.–based Hantel Technologies, which They learned from 45 entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture helps Fortune 500 companies and start-ups bring their medical capitalists, IP and corporate lawyers, and corporate R&D managdevice ideas to market. ers, engaging in more networking than they could do in a year “The academy is one of the best investments an entrepreworking on their own.” neurially inclined biomed engineer can make,” Choi said. For Choi, most important was the realization that, “Inno“It provides guidance in—and helps catalyze—the process of vation is about connecting, not inventing. Ideas —no matter translating your ideas to reality.” how technically elegant—cannot grow without people connect>> ing people.” 4 • W I N T E R 2012

Profile for UC Davis Graduate School of Management

Winter 2012 innovator  

Winter 2012 innovator