Coverage & Commentary

A dearth of physician innovators can derail new biomedical startups

Much has been made of the looming shortage of physicians. But there’s one place where the shortage is being felt acutely, is talked about even less, and the effects will ripple far into the future: the founding of new biomedical startups.

We live at a time when technology is dramatically transforming not just the field of biology but how biology-driven companies are built. It’s now entirely possible to create innovative and scalable new companies in the field with relatively modest initial funding. In other words, it’s salad days to be a bio startup, with so many new tools, data sources, and ideas at our disposal.

There are increasing signs that physicians are intrigued by the prospect of interacting with innovators and startup founders. The American Medical Association’s Physician Innovation Network has built an online community of physicians seeking to collaborate with entrepreneurs that has grown in a short time to more than 4,000 members. In Silicon Valley, the AMA-founded Health2047 is driving innovation by connecting a network of entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and physicians from across medicine to identify critical health issues and develop solutions. Two companies have already been spun off, and more are in the pipeline.