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Five Questions on Innovation, Health IT, and Biotech for Lux Capital’s New Venture Partner Richard Foster

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in incentives for companies to provide services and products. But this will be a long road. Also the Department of Health & Human Services is releasing tremendous amounts of data.

On June 9, HHS will be holding a national meeting on health data initiatives. There will be dozens of younger companies there talking about their plans to use this resource.

X: One of your mandates, according to Lux, is to seek out new business models for life sciences. Explain.

RF: Our system of drug development, in the eyes of many, is broken. Researchers at academic medical centers are focusing on discovering what’s going wrong in the diseased body. Drug companies are trying to figure out how to fix it. But the interface between the two isn’t working. And no one is answering the question of who is going to bear the cost of further development. This system cannot continue as it is currently structured.

You’ll see a lot of private funds looking at new ways to do drug development. We’ll be looking at those new models, too.

X: How will your challenge differ from that of Lux’s other new partner, James Woolsey?

RF: The capital requirements for energy and climate are so much greater than they are for healthcare, which makes them very different issues. But we have to solve energy and climate problems, and we will. It’s a wonderful part of the equation for Lux, and I’m happy to be working with James Woolsey.

X: Having written two books about innovation, what’s your top advice for new entrepreneurs?

RF: They need to avoid what I call “cultural lock-in”—the tendency to build a business model and then not be able to see any other model from then on. You have to think of the next wave of entrepreneurs that are behind you, and you have to know exactly how you’re going to beat them.

I once met Bob Swanson, the original CEO of Genentech. I told him he was the perfect example of an attacker, but he said he didn’t think of himself that way. He said, “I’m worried about these guys who are behind me.” That’s the attitude entrepreneurs need to have—the Swanson attitude.

Remember, the world doesn’t stop just because you started a company.

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One response to “Five Questions on Innovation, Health IT, and Biotech for Lux Capital’s New Venture Partner Richard Foster”

  1. Even with stimulus incentives and a demographic shift in attitudes towards computer use, the stats on technology adoption and data security in primary care are pretty scary. I saw some survey results from AMA this past March that found that 30% of all physician practices lacked anti-virus software, and 35% lacked firewalls, including for systems storing patient data. On the one hand, there’s this very high barrier to adoption – PCPs just don’t have the time (at current reimbursement rates) to trial, implement and train staff on new systems – at least until HITECH started offering $44,000 per physician. On the other hand, some of the most direly needed solutions in this area are shockingly low tech. It will be interesting to see how HIT companies try to build in greater value for the physician office after the HITECH funding window has passed.