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Prospects for Academic Entrepreneurship

June 11, 2018
San Francisco

The TÜSİAD Silicon Valley Network hosted a talk by Dr. Utkan Demirci on “Academic Entrepreneurship Through Innovation” on June 11 in San Francisco at the Microsoft Reactor Space. Approximately 50 professionals based in and around the Bay area attended the event, which was sponsored by Zorlu Ventures USA.

Chair of the TÜSİAD Silicon Valley Network Aysegül İldeniz delivered opening remarks highlighting the purpose of the Network to facilitate communication and knowledge exchange between TÜSİAD members and professionals in Turkey and professionals in the Bay Area. İldeniz, stressed the importance of Dr. Demirci’s work and his success in “fusing entrepreneurship with innovation.”

Following her remarks Dr. Demirci, a Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine at the Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection, delivered the keynote address which explored the road to academic entrepreneurship and initiatives to build leadership capacity. His group at Stanford has pioneered contributions in multiple fields including infectious diseases, fertility, cancer diagnostics, cell encapsulation, cryobiology, and biofabrication; they create novel technologies for disposable point-of-care (POC) diagnostics and monitoring. He was selected as one of the world’s top 35 young innovators under the age of 35 (TR-35) by the MIT Technology Review. He holds over 20 patents, translated into products through multiple start-up companies including DxNOW, Koek Biotechnology and LEVITAS.

Demirci emphasized the need to use academia to generate new technologies that create innovative solutions to problems that arise in the medical field, not only in the US, but globally: “As we translate technologies, I try to think global. Looking at some of the starts-ups that we generated in the Bay Area, or in the U.S., I’ve seen unique value in doing some of the product development overseas, like in Turkey. We have a unique opportunity to reduce the costs significantly by building companies abroad that would then manufacture tools that we sell globally, benefitting from some of the advantages around taxes and tax-free zones. This gives us a long-term vision in terms of where we can expand.”

He also described the opportunities Turkey presents for technology-focused healthcare: “In the healthcare space, Turkey presents a unique opportunity with its educated medical professionals and well-established health care system which allows us to understand better what we can achieve globally. Building the manufacturing there enables us to test different manufacturing strategies at a lower cost compared with the U.S.”

Dr. Demirci speaks more about pioneering work, in this video for the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection:

Dr. Demirci responded to questions from the audience and the event concluded with a networking session.

About the TÜSİAD Silicon Valley Network

The TÜSİAD Silicon Valley Network is formed of business professionals on voluntary basis who have various roles in the Silicon Valley ecosystem. The goals of the TÜSİAD Silicon Valley Network are to facilitate communication and knowledge exchange between TÜSİAD members and professionals in Turkey and professionals in the Bay Area. The Network supports entrepreneurship, innovation and the internet ecosystem, STEM education, digital industrial transformation and Industry 4.0 in Turkey through content and communication, helps entrepreneurs navigate effectively in Silicon Valley, and promotes awareness and interest in the Silicon Valley ecosystem.