This morning members of the Chester County tech community, investors and other thought leaders met inside West Chester’s Walnut St. Labs for their weekly Startup Meetup. Entering its second year, the Startup Meetup is somewhat of a keystone event for the tech incubator. The list of past speakers (musicians, novelists, fringe software developers, CEOs, and venture capitalists) reveals much about WSL and the inclusive anarchism of New Tech.
This morning’s speaker Lars Knutsen, CEO Requis Pharmaceuticals Inc., was a slightly more mainstream choice for WSL. The biotech luminary delivered his thoughts on creating organizations that inspire pharma-chemical innovation.
Creativity doesn’t work on deadlines–it has to be given a space to grow, says Knutsen, showing a picture of himself gazing over the ocean. A few seconds later he admits to being a big fan of Bill Murray. Yes, that makes sense.
Knutsen grew up in the UK (although “genetically” Scandinavian, he points out), attended Oxford and has made an impressive career as a biotech industry leader. He’s the kind of public speaker that alternates between poetic musings on the philosophical implications of chemical entropy and practical business advice. A nice fit for Walnut St. Labs. Allowing that there are a few good Big Pharma companies, Knutsen suggests that companies function better when they are “people-sized” and resist the nearsightedness of Wall Street investors.
Knutsen’s and his team at Requis Pharmaceuticals Inc. are seeking initial investment to produce a new drug designed to reduce sleeplessness by treating snoring. The CDC estimates that a quarter of Americans occasionally suffer from a lack of sleep.
The drug development process, Knutsen says, is long and difficult. To go from invention to FDA approved distribution “takes about ten years and by poor management, research can be destroyed in ten minutes”.
Just by way of contrast, Facebook attempted to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion just 26 months after its initial release.