A couple of us had the opportunity to participate in this week’s Blue Knight Symposium. Co-sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Innovation J-Labs and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the conference brought together government, industry, entrepreneurs and innovators, job seekers, and a couple of investors, like us. Topics included preparedness and response to emerging health security threats, public/private engagement, and startup acceleration. A number of startups presented medial countermeasures and technology solutions across the spectrum.
A few key takeaways from the symposium follow:
– We had a head start. This WAS the 3rd Coronavirus of epidemic or pandemic proportion in the 3rd Millennium – with SARS starting in 2002, and MERS in 2012. Investments made in science and medicine in the 2 prior epidemics certainly accelerated drug discovery for COVID-19. The next one may not be so familiar.
-While highly contagious, and clearly sustainable, COVID-19 could be more lethal. Not to downplay the seriousness of this current pandemic, but it could be worse.
–The chasm that exists between medical science and engineering, sometimes caused simply by vocabulary differences, slows innovation. We need to create cross-disciplinary teams to accelerate the development of truly innovative, scalable solutions.
-It takes money, equipment, infrastructure, experience – did I say money? – to bring solutions to market. Most startups and early-stage companies don’t have this luxury. Resource sharing shortens time to market and increases the likelihood of success.
-[Almost] no one can do this alone. Government and large enterprises play a key role in early development (infrastructure, funding, expertise, customer engagement, etc.). As innovations move from research to productization and commercialization, industry, accelerators, and private investors play an increasingly important role. Public/private collaborations can increase velocity.
-We, as a species, are built to forget. See Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve. While we have everyone’s attention with respect to the havoc a pandemic can wreak on, well, everything, we need to accelerate innovation and investment.
We have never “all been in this together” like we are today. Let’s work together and get this done.
Care to put some money to work, drive some impact, and make some money? Reach out to any one of us. So much to do. So little time.