Blavatnik Fellowship: 5 Years of Thinking Big


[MUSIC PLAYING] I had always, in
myself, had this desire to be an entrepreneur. A white space,
there’s a few ideas. Trends in mind that I thought
were fascinating in the health care industry. To look at health care
from multiple lenses. How will that apply to
people, and how will it ultimately affect their lives
and make their lives better? There’s a massive demand
for better mental health care using technology. Putting health and wellness
data in the hands of consumers. To increase access to
care for global patients around the world. So it needs to be early
enough that you can have a big impact as an individual. Len Blavatnik really
urged us to think big. He dared us. He encouraged us. He motivated us. Are you doing enough? Are you thinking big enough
about these companies to make the kind of
impact that he hopes that we’ll make in the world? Len loves to invest
in people who are very passionate
about ideas, who think big, who think outside the box. He’s always open to new ideas. He’s always open to hear
bold ideas and bold thoughts. Who’s going to cure cancer? Somebody needs to
figure that one out. It’s not enough to
have a good idea, and it’s not enough to have
the marketing, the finance, the business expertise. You need both. It’s sort of like asking,
which blade of the scissors does the cutting? And the Blavatnik Fellowship
brings them together. So without the Fellowship,
there was really no way to think about
getting something brand new off the ground. I didn’t have the ability
to conceive of it. The Fellowship
allowed me to do that. To have the opportunity
to spend a full day, a full week, instead
of nights and weekends, really refining an idea. In the course of just
a couple of months, I was able to start to
flesh out what could be a meaningful business plan. We’ve brought together, really,
the best and brightest team in the world to do this. The mentors that I’ve received
from the Blavatnik Fellowship have been critical in helping
us craft the strategies moving forward for Valera. The Fellowship has given young
entrepreneurs an opportunity to take that risk
that they might not have been able to otherwise. These businesses
are very special, and that’s what the
Fellowship was really designed to support– a small community
of entrepreneurs who are really committed
to building companies of that kind– high risk, high reward,
transformational, exciting, exhausting. Exhausting to do this,
but also very inspiring. As I look in the community
in life sciences, the real element that’s
missing is entrepreneurs. It’s about the talent
and the individuals that can execute and bring these
scientific discoveries to fruition. The quality of the
Fellows that have been attracted to the program
over the last five years is stellar, and will
only get better over time as the reputation grows. The fact that, to date, 21
new companies have been formed and $250 million has been raised
adds incredible credibility in the overall community. And so people say, oh, you
did that Blavatnik Fellowship? And that gives you an
extra level of credibility. Yeah, a lot has happened. In the year of the Fellowship,
I founded a company which ultimately
sublicensed to lead compound in a multi-million dollar deal. So far we’ve raised
over $4 and 1/2 million, and we’re working with
health care organizations all across the country. We’re closing our
precede round, and we’re planning on scaling it by
building new inventory. This is exactly what
health care needs. It needs to bring
in entrepreneurs. It needs to bring in
risk-loving people who are willing to take this leap. Bringing together people at
this stage of their careers when they’re going to be
working in the same space for the next 20
years– like, I can’t imagine the kinds of
companies that we’re going to continue to start together. Looking ahead over
the next 10 years, it’s only going to
be a continued growth of the wonderful accomplishment
and innovation that’s already occurred. This Fellowship isn’t
just about the fellowship and the individual companies
that we’ve created. It’s also about the community
that we’ve pulled together to make all of this happen. [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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