Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Exciting Science Startups

I just flew into Paris for a single day of the Axon@LeWeb event. I presented our, in a lineup with 14 other terrific startups. But no sane person flies into Paris, in December, to spend a day in a conference hall outside of the Paris everyone knows and loves. Certainly you don’t do it for a 10-minute presentation. Of course, I may be crazy, and all startup founders are to some extent, but I had a very good reason to attend and I do not regret for a second the crazy flying and exhaustion that I am experiencing at this very moment. No regrets for two reasons:

a. I support enthusiastically Victor Henning’s effort to showcase science startups. In a sea of interesting general-audience companies at LeWeb, there is no way that an amazing company like Publons (opening up peer reviews for all to see), can get featured at the main event. Therefore, it is important to set up the precedent for an event that highlights science startups to the right audience of investors, reporters, and others in the science space. I am glad Victor did it; I hope it’s not a one-time event; and I want to help it succeed as much as possible.

b. Researchers attend science conferences for the opportunity to talk to other scientists. We don’t go to hear a specific talk. The talks are nice, but the true value of the science conference is in the productive discussion and brainstorming after the sessions. The same holds true for a meeting of scientists who founded startups. As expected, the two hours of discussion prior to our presentations, and the 6 hours of Paris metro, dinner, drinks, and more metro after the event itself – this is the part that was truly exhilarating, fun, inspiring, thought-provoking, and productive.

Throughout the course of our day together, we shared perspectives on other science startups, not at the event, but held in high regard by one or more of the assembled founders. Here are some of the science startups we like:

Rubriq: independent peer review
Riffyn software for reproducible R&D
Agave BioSystems: research and development of biological systems, sensors, diagnostics, and instrumentation.
Chematria: machine learning algorithms for medicinal discovery
Quartzy: reagent management website
Twist Bioscience:  Synthetic DNA
Biomeme: hand-held thermocycler for field studies
Authorea:  collaborative