For The Record with Jackie Mejia, Director, gBETA Medtech

Jackie came to gener8tor after working for several years as a research scientist and lab manager. Her research focused on developing novel technologies to solve environmental challenges and protect public health. During this time, Jackie learned to balance multiple projects, work with various collaborators, become a successful mentor, and communicate her scientific results effectively to different audiences. She also founded her own biotech startup! Most recently, Jackie worked as a project manager at the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. Her goal was to help scientists and engineers take their technologies from lab bench to market.

As Director of gBETA MedTech, Jackie enjoys building strong relationships with key stakeholders and helping founders successfully bring innovative technologies to the Healthcare sector. A Colombian-American, Jackie was born in New York City and spent her teenage years in Bogota, Colombia. Jackie got her BS in Chemistry from Temple University and a PhD in Environmental Chemistry and Technology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Give us the gBETA Medtech elevator pitch.

gBETA Medtech is a free, seven-week accelerator for startups focused on healthcare. This includes startups working on healthcare products for diagnosing, treating and/or monitoring diseases or medical conditions; software; biological technologies; and healthcare services. Each program is capped at five teams and requires no fees and no equity. Our goal is to connect founders with key stakeholders in the medtech space to help them succeed.

Any updates to the program in 2020?

Applications are now open for the Fall 2020 gBETA Medtech Program and the deadline to apply is August 11, 2020 11:59PM CT.

We are also planning a mid-July event around COVID-19 technologies. The event is an opportunity for midwest innovators to improve their pitch decks by working with the gBETA Medtech team, highlight their COVID-19 technologies during a Pitch event, and connect with key medtech stakeholders that can help accelerate the implementation of their technologies.

What have been gBETA Medtech’s most exciting milestones thus far?

It is exciting that 10 out of 16 of our alumni have raised funding already (I’m excluding the cohort that just graduated).

What are the big milestones to come in the next few years for gBETA Medtech?

One of our main goals is to help more companies get multi-million dollar rounds like two of our alumni already have.

What does leadership look like to you?

Emotional intelligence is a key aspect of good leadership. With emotional intelligence comes great communication skills, which require leaders to listen to those they are in charge of and identify the best way to keep them motivated, educate them and hold them accountable for their actions. At the same time, leaders need to promote independence and keep in mind that the best leaders create leaders. It is also important to be genuinely excited about the work you do as a leader because excitement is infectious and inspiring! Lastly, great leaders should always display integrity by acknowledging the work of others, showing that they don’t know everything, and recognizing their mistakes. Overall leadership means inspiring and empowering others to think outside the box, go beyond their typical limits and be passionate about their work.

What is the best advice you have received in your career? What is the worst?

The best advice I have received has been “apply to that job because if you don’t, someone else with a quarter of your qualifications will apply and get the job.” As a Latino woman it is easy to get caught up trying to be the perfect candidate, instead of being confident and taking a chance at achieving your goals. The worst advice was when I was pursuing my PhD and was told to just focus on my research and nothing else. As a graduate student you have the opportunity to take classes in other departments and do internships outside of academia, these activities should be promoted so that students learn to think outside the box and become aware of career opportunities outside of academia.

What have been the most rewarding moments in your career?

Defending my PhD was definitely the most rewarding moment. It took me five and a half years to complete my studies and the emotional, physical, and intellectual challenge is enormous. This was a win not just for me, but also my family and friends who supported me along the way.

What is one personal goal for the upcoming year?

I hurt my back last year and haven’t been able to stay as active as I used to be. I want to recover and get back to working out more frequently.

How do you relax / decompress?

I enjoy doing arts and crafts, painting, dancing and going out for dinner and drinks with friends.

What do you enjoy most about the Medical Alley community?

Everyone in the community seems eager to help others succeed. There is a tremendous amount of support from individuals that are willing to go out of their way to facilitate introductions, set up meetings with startup founders, and participate in activities organized by the gBETA Medtech program.

Anything else to add?

gBETA Medtech is a program of University Enterprise Laboratories and gener8tor, and is sponsored by Boston Scientific with additional support from Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota and Medical Alley Association. UEL and gener8tor also receive support through a cooperative agreement with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

Our program is part of the BARDA DRIVe (Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures) Network and we are helping BARDA identify companies that are working on promising technologies that can help us fight the current coronavirus. I have had the chance to talk to various companies working on solutions for COVID-19, including Sandstone, who participated in our latest program, and it is exciting and refreshing to learn about awesome technologies that are being developed. These founders are passionate about helping humanity and have been working day and night to move as quickly as possible. The medtech community including our supporters, Boston Scientific, University Enterprise Labs, Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota and Medical Alley Association, are working hard to help us through this crisis and I am hopeful that we will have tools to overcome the current pandemic.

Welcome to Medical Alley Association’s For The Record interview series! Join us as we sit down with innovators in the delivery, payment, technology, and policy industries, giving us – and in turn, you – access to diverse perspectives on how healthcare is changing and what lies ahead.

Medical Alley is the global epicenter of health innovation and care; For The Record, is meant to share insights and spark discussion. If you have a perspective on the future of healthcare, feel free to share it by reaching out to Jamie Oyen, Marketing Manager at joyen@medicalalley.org

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