Innovators and entrepreneurs recently came together in downtown Phoenix.
Arizona State University’s J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute kicked off its series of MedTech programs this fall with a fireside chat on Sept. 8 with a discussion of entrepreneurship in the medical field. Participating were scientist-entrepreneurs, Anu Sreedhar and Chris Yoo. The event was hosted by Tracy Lea, Director of Venture Development at the institute, in downtown Phoenix.
The Innovation Institute is in partnership with groups like Peoria Forward, which seeks to foster high-tech businesses in the West Valley. Peoria Forward provides opportunities to meet with entrepreneurs, mentors and other resources to network within the industry and build a developing entrepreneurial community in the West Valley. They are open to entrepreneurs and curious community members at any stage and any industry who are looking to build a business, nonprofit organization, solo project, or any other kind of venture.
The J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute helps entrepreneurial students get started with their ideas by connecting them to existing startup resources with small businesses, entrepreneurs, school districts, city library branches, and other community groups to develop innovative ventures.
Sreedhar holds a doctorate in Oncology and Yoo holds his doctorate in Molecular Cell Biology. The two discussed their careers as entrepreneurs in the MedTech industry and how entrepreneurs can learn from the industry.
Yoo said he was working in the information technology industry for companies like IBM when he realized that his passion was startups. He helps run a new venture capital firm, investing in healthcare and life sciences companies. He also runs an accelerator to work directly with founders on businesses that could transform healthcare. The veteran entrepreneur said he now takes all his experience and works with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation team at ASU to build the community and connections new entrepreneurs need for the development of the MedTech world.
“We’re gathering you together so you can interact with each other,” Yoo said at the event. “We want to give you every resource possible to succeed and the reason for that is, as you succeed we all benefit from your solutions that come to market…”
Sreedhar said she was doing a fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where she realized she wanted to do more than "just the benchwork." She said she left Mayo Clinic and moved to Alabama with one of her Ph.D. mentors. There they launched an anti-aging startup company with her background in Metabolomics, the scientific study of metabolites present within an organism, cell, or tissue. Since then, she has joined the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and works with their entrepreneurship office and in collaboration with ASU.
Yoo said that innovation comes from collaboration in the field of all kinds of different entrepreneurs; that is why the MedTech industry is taking off.
Sreedhar agreed, “Collaboration is where I think is the key. I know the competition is important but sometimes I feel like, why compete when we can work together?”
“You have to have entrepreneurs coming out of the labs coming from multi-disciplinary sources in order for you to get that true innovation. It's that interdisciplinary nature,” Yoo said. “You have to be able to collaborate and speak across domains. You don't have to have all the answers, you just have to start to find others around you who can help you in your solution.”
Editor's note: Samantha Rea a journalism student at Arizona State Univeristy's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.