One year ago, I left the start-up where I had been working on an AI-driven companion to accompany patients through their cancer treatments.
When I left, I was deeply frustrated with the start-up environment surrounding AI in Healthcare. I was still convinced that AI could help in this space, but all I was seeing was teams going down what I considered to be the wrong paths.
I felt that I benefited enormously from the course. I had left my postdoc position 3 months previously and I was researching ideas for setting-up a company. I subsequently took my learnings from Pulse and elsewhere, and established my first company Simmunology. So when I was contacted earlier this year I was particularly keen to write something and say thanks.
I really love dealing with people. I come from a culture which highly prizes human interaction and communication skills. But I also love technical work, and this tends to attract people who prefer to work alone. In this article I want to discuss my progression through different styles of management and leadership throughout my life.
I had the opportunity to interview for a senior position at a very big company recently. The entire process was fascinating for what it says about human nature and about large companies. The outcome of the process is unclear at the time of writing this but I am expecting the intrinsic misalignments in the process will lead it into the reeds from which it is unlikely to emerge. I am as close to the perfect candidate for the role that they will ever interview, but the internal parties are not all aligned around the very existence of the position.
I had quite a nice spring season of talks planned for 2020. I was invited to deliver a keynote on AI in Healthcare at Biovaria. And, I was one of the invited speakers for the Dynamics of Immune Repertoires conference where I would also have given a workshop, in Dresden. Covid-19 struck and the rest is history.
Emergencies lead to quick changes of plans. Anthony Kelly from AI in Action reached out to me asking me to take part in a special on AI in Healthcare.
Working in industrial research is usually very motivating but occasionally it is also frustrating. You’ve just done something really cool but you’re not allowed to tell anybody outside the company about it. Indeed, in a small company there might not be anybody inside of the company who can even appreciate it!
I have worked on roughly 4 really cool projects since leaving academia at the end of 2017. And apart from some basic mentions in my blog (e.g. here and here) most of what I have done has been known only to a few key stakeholders.
There are three basic business models in bioinformatics:
Licencing of insights
Selling a tool
In the consultancy model, you are being paid for your time and expertise. The risk lies with the payer (employer) in this case. There is no guarantee that you will come up with anything useful. Therefore your margins are also low.