If you want to change the world with your ideas, you have to be open to change yourself.
That was a key takeaway from speakers at the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Week event on “Careers and Entrepreneurship in the Sciences,” hosted by Ohio University’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
Keynote speaker Patrick Connelly advised scientists to move beyond invention in the lab to commercializing their discoveries.
“Being able to innovate in development and commercialization in business aspects are just as important as the innovations you would make in a research space,” said Connelly, Senior Vertex Fellow Emeritus with Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Connelly was founding scientist at Vertex, which began in a 10,000-square-foot space where its kitchen doubled as the conference room. Today, Vertex Pharmaceuticals manufactures four medicines that treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis and is investigating treatments for other serious conditions. It has headquarters in Boston and London as well as offices and laboratories in five U.S. cities and 13 countries
Panelist Tim Coleman, vice president of operations at Immunomic Therapeutics, echoed Connelly’s advice. With a doctorate in molecular and cellular biology from Ohio University, Coleman built a career in genetic research that includes writing more than 40 publications and holding 26 patents. His jobs often involved working closely with commercialization experts –and now he oversees teams in chemistry, controls and manufacturing.
“What you accrue in knowledge over the years, you can find ways to apply that.” Coleman said. “I went from knowing how to develop a product to how to release that product. Once I got a taste of the entrepreneurial things – the startups and the new technologies – I always came back to that.”
In addition to continuous learning, attendees were encouraged to seek out a mentor who can not only guide, but also challenge them.
Pam Groen, business leader and advisor at Global Biomedical, recalled how her mentor would give her unstained slides and make her go through all of them.
“[My mentor] never stopped teaching me things,” Groen said.
Since 2008, GEW has focused a spotlight on the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in economic growth. Millions of people in over 165 countries participate in GEW events every year.
The Center for Entrepreneurship is a partnership between the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and the College of Business. The free GEW event was organized and sponsored by the College of Business, Department of Biology, TechGROWTH Ohio and the University’s Corporate Engagement Office.