01 Dec 2018

Collaborative Cures

How the Blavatnik Fellowship is breaking down silos—and accelerating life science research


Photo courtesy of Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship

Harvard University is ripe with new advances in science and technology. But developing those findings into breakthrough therapies and cures for disease is a complex process that can take a long time—and for some patients, too long.

Enter the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator, which identifies early-stage, highly promising technologies developed by Harvard faculty, and then helps those selected navigate the early stages of development so that they can go to market more quickly. The Accelerator was created as part of a $50 million gift to the University from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, headed by Len Blavatnik (MBA 1989), which also funded the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship Program at HBS. The program connects recent alumni with Accelerator projects, offering entrepreneurs a one-year stipend as well as additional funding for activities such as due diligence, market research, and other tasks necessary to determine the best route for product commercialization.

Since its launch in 2013, fellows have created 17 companies in categories including therapeutics, information technology, diagnostics, consumer, and devices, collectively raising more than $150 million in funding. To further catalyze these new science-based businesses, the program provides fellows professional development in areas such as startup strategy, design thinking, intellectual property law, and entrepreneurial finance.

“By increasing the collaborative efforts between Harvard Business School and Harvard’s scientific community, we will empower the next generation of life science entrepreneurs and provide a further catalyst for innovation and research development,” Blavatnik says.


Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

“The rapidly transforming scientific and technological foundations of medical invention are already straining our existing institutions. By thoughtfully approaching business model innovation, we will be more successful in navigating the opportunities and challenges of 21st-century health care.”
Ariel Stern, Assistant Professor of Business Administration


Photo by Tony Rinaldo

“When I looked at the health care system through a systems engineering lens, I could see it as a network of multiple parts that needed to be optimized and restraints that had to be removed. Everyone wants the best treatments at the lowest costs, but they’re currently out of sync. No one is thinking about the system as a whole—and that’s the opportunity.”
Shana Hoffman (MBA 2014), COO, Senior VP, Tri-State/Mid-Atlantic Region, Beacon Health Options


Photo courtesy of Lily Fu

“The confluence of so many factors, from economic and medical to ethical issues, makes health care an exciting space. It’s even more so now because of the feeling that there’s momentum for change. Seeing the Affordable Care Act pass and the ripple effect of conversations around values-based health care, this is an exciting time to think about how we could deliver better care.”
—Lily Fu (MBA 2019), Co-President, Health Care Club

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1989, Section F
Class of MBA 2014, Section C

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