We’re delighted to welcome a new addition to the IHV team. Emily, who is studying for an MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise at the University of Cambridge, has joined us for 6 months to pioneer a unique piece of research. Her paper will help sharpen our investment thesis and enable our team to identify the very best healthtech founders. In this post, we welcome Emily to the team and get to know more about her background and the scope of her research project. 

Tell a little bit about your background and what inspired you to focus on biotech & healthtech?

I’m originally from Stockholm, Sweden but I came to the UK to study my BSc in Biochemistry at UCL. I chose biochemistry because I love science and really enjoy understanding the core of things. After graduating, I decided to explore my other passion – music. I joined a Stockholm-based music tech startup where I worked with business development for 2 years.

Although I loved working in music, I was missing science and felt I could add more value in biosciences and healthcare. I strongly believe that all people should have the opportunity to be the best they can be, and I believe that good health, both physical and mental, is a key prerequisite for this, and is something that should be accessible to all people. I am motivated by the belief that technological and scientific innovation can bring us closer to achieving this.

When I came across the MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise at Cambridge, I knew it would be the ideal next step for me. It’s the perfect combination of my two passions; allowing me to bring my love of science together with the grassroots experience of working at the heart of a start-up. 

What does your new role at IHV involve?

As part of my degree, I’m completing a thesis, which is what brought me to IHV. I’m conducting qualitative and quantitative research into the link between health and life science start-up success stories and the founders behind them. It’s a fascinating space and I believe this research, when complete, will add something meaningful to our current literature.

In addition to this project, I’m working closely with the team to help with deal-sourcing and due diligence. It’s great to get under the hood of how VCs make their decisions and get an up-close look at some really exciting companies. 

What are you hoping to discover through your research?

I’m hoping to get a good view of what an archetypical founder in healthcare is, (if such a thing exists), and how this compares to other industries. I am aiming to pinpoint which key characteristics differentiate the most successful founders in this space. The end goal is to develop a framework that allows investors to assess healthcare founders.

What approach are you taking to the project – who will you be speaking to?

I’m trying to make this research as rigorous as possible so I am using a combination of methods. This includes a data-based approach to test if there are any specific traits which correlate to success, such as educational background, research or professional experience. But I’m also going to factor in personality traits and innate behaviours of people – which is much harder to collect data on. This will involve a personality assessment survey of healthcare founders. Alongside these elements, I’ll also be interviewing other VCs who invest in the healthcare space to form a market-wide view of how founders are assessed and valued.  

How will a better understanding of founder qualities feed into the IHV investment thesis in the long-term?

IHV likes to make investment decisions that are backed by strong research and data. They have developed investment theses around the different sectors and subsectors of healthcare; however, a key piece of research missing has been about the healthcare founders themselves.

By defining what successful founders look like in the healthcare industry (and potentially within the different sectors and subsectors therein) IHV will be able to make more informed evaluations of founders, and have a better understanding of key areas where individual founders could use extra support.

Additionally, both IHV and I believe that this novel research will be beneficial to both investors and entrepreneurs in the wider health tech and life-sciences industry. 

If you’re a VC who’d be happy to speak to Emily as part of her research, please get in touch via emily.otterbeck@gmail.com

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