“I’m a material scientist making electronics as soft as the brain. The brain contains about 80 billion neurons, yet we can only interface with a few hundreds to a few thousands of them by using a brain implant. Scaling up such technology to create ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces will open up a breadth of new applications in neuroprosthetics, brain stimulation therapies and neurosciences. The mechanical mismatch between biological tissues and electronics must be leveled by using soft materials if we ever hope to reach high numbers of electrodes in brain implants while maintaining a negligible immune response. Realizing ultra-soft, ultra-high density brain implants is challenging from both the materials sciences and nanofabrication perspectives.”
We have the technology. Now what?
"In May 2021, I was a PhD student at Harvard in my fifth and last year. And I had been working with Professor Liu in bioelectronics for the past three years. We always had this crazy idea that one day we could make brain implants as soft as the brain.
We have been tackling the problem step by step. First we had to figure out why people could not use soft materials to make brain implants, and then which materials would not obey that rule. While I was stuck at home in the beginning of the pandemic, I had more time to think critically about the engineering issues, and I figured out how to solve them. We’ve been thinking about spinning off the technology for a long time, but nothing was concrete because we were always hands-on doing the research.
I have no experience as a CEO and no experience other than research, so founding a company is quite intimidating, full of many unknowns, but also thrilling!"
Making the Leap
"When I started my PhD, to me, the only option was to become a professor. And then, as work progressed, I realized that there were other options — I realized that I may want to go into the world of industry and entrepreneurship to translate my research or apply what I had learned during my PhD to real world situations. When you are passionate about your ideas and your research, the best outcome is when you start the company based on your work.
If my research is good enough and if people want to invest in my ideas, why not?"
The Power of Peers
"At Blueprint, I was able to see and to meet with other founders that have similar backgrounds. I got to see what a success story is made of. It was inspiring to see where the panelists were in their journeys and how they evaluated risk and fostered growth.
I’ve learned that one of the most important things in this journey from researcher to founder is confidence in your ideas. Feeling less anxious and less scared about the path you’ve chosen — knowing that the journey is possible, even if you don’t know exactly where it will lead you at the start. The path to success as a founder is not predictable and linear like academia, and you have to be comfortable with that uncertainty."