Harvard successfully hosted its second event on Student Pathways to Healthcare Innovation last Wednesday, April the 25th. Four speakers talked for fifteen minutes each on their experiences and advice for traveling in the biotech entrepreneurial world. Dr. Youseph Yazdi, the Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design, inspired the crowd and especially professors with the innovative approaches his initiative is taking to teach medical design. He believes firmly that the widely regarded saying “bench to bedside” is missing a fundamental step: the inspiration for medical technology must come from a medical need thus changing the saying to from “bedside to bench to bedside”. Eric Elenko explained how his company, PureTech Ventures, takes an incubator style approach to the venture capital model. He hopes through using his own team as the initial board and organizing body they can faster start and develop new ventures before handing the company off to a new leadership. John Simon of General Catalyst Partners explained the nuances of being a medtech entrepreneur and taking a company that he started through to the public sphere. He emphasized the importance of taking the high risk leap to start a company as it is is hugely rewarding and stressed that the only failure is failure of trying. Lastly, Ravi Pamnani of the Stanford Biodesign Program discussed the process for becoming a medtech entrepreneur and especially the importance of having a world class team each with more than one expertise. The event was a wild success in the eyes of the audience who found it to be one of the most insightful speaker showcases on the topic at Harvard thus far.
On Monday November 28th, the Harvard Healthcare Innovation Group, a NCIIA supported organization, held its first event at the Harvard Innovation Laboratory. The group, currently in the form of a 160 person mailing list, materialized its support into an event with the purpose to promote the creation of a medical venture community. This first event’s main goal was to get members to meet each other, generating a network of students from across the harvard schools. To facilitate this a design challenge was created to stimulate collaboration among the members, however what began as an ice breaker quickly became a extremely productive brainstorm session. The sixty plus students that participated in the design challenge, which was to reduce the incidence of hip fractures from falls in geriatric patients, produced some fantastic ideas. First our guest speaker Dr. Medha Munshi introduced the challenge and gave a short speech outlining the important aspects to the problem from a geriatricians point of view. Then groups of students at each table, which were diverse with individuals from each of the respective schools, wrote ideas for devices and marketing opportunities on whiteboards. Some of the more unique ideas were engineered furniture lines to reduce falls, robotic walkers that follow the patients, detachable hospital IV lines to reduce tangling, and shoe sonar sensors to detect objects. Overall the event was a fantastic success, having produced some fantastic ideas and discussions, and the HHIG looks forward to putting on another, larger event in the future.
There has a been a boom of new student activity and faculty programs to promote innovation across the board. This fall has already seen the opening of a brand new Harvard Innovation Laboratory across the river at the business school, and the start of a new student group called the Harvard Healthcare Innovation Club. Both initiatives aim to push innovation at harvard to become a new priority. The I-lab is a brand new space for incubating new ventures by providing beautiful collaboration rooms, phones, internet, and other services to help get student groups off the ground. It will also hold classes and seminars on topics such as budgeting, and writing a business plan as a means of helping get much needed knowledge to students from all over campus. The HHIC is a student run organization that has participation and representation from the Medical, Business, and Engineering schools that is working to create networking possibilities between the different populations and provide information on events and resources available to its members. Spoiled with resources, schools, and hospitals, Harvard hopes to become a competitor in the innovation world in the next ten years through these initiatives and others like it.
Congratulations to each of the thirteen new NCIIA Student Ambassadors from across the nation for the 2011 – 2012 school year. These Student Ambassadors will serve as advocates for NCIIA, driving the mission of the organization. For more information on NCIIA, view the website at www.nciia.org.
This blog will serve as an opportunity for Student Ambassadors to highlight entrepreneurial activities on campuses and provide insight to resources that students can leverage. Increased collaboration between campuses will lead to a greater impact in furthering the NCIIA mission.