Ep65: Entrepreneur – David Walt

Image credit: David Walt

Image credit: David Walt

Many scientists want their findings and discoveries to have real-world impact. So what is it like for a scientist, who’s technology has ended up as the the basis for a multi-billion dollar company?

The biggest thing that scientists lack, is an appreciation for how technologies in science get developed in the private sector
— David Walt

David Walt is Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. Throughout his career he has been an entrepreneur, taking technologies developed in his lab and working with investors and business partners to turn them into successful companies. The most successful is Illumina, which manufactures the technology used behind the majority gene-sequencing systems in the world, and has reduced the cost of sequencing exponentially over the past few years. At the time of broadcast, the company has a market capitalisation of greater than US $40 billion.

In this episode, we talk about David’s background, from growing up on the outskirts of Detroit, through his academic career, to the key seminar he gave that got him noticed by a venture capitalist.

David has previously encouraged scientists to interact with potential investors, and in his work now focuses on how technologies are not just translated into industry, but specifically into the clinical environment. We talk about what scientists and venture capitalists should know about each other, if they’re planning to interact.

You can read more about David’s research here.