Luis Eduardo Contreras Llano Business Development Fellow 2020-21

Luis Eduardo Contreras Llano
Novel cell-free protein synthesis systems and engineering natural and artificial cells.

Luis Eduardo Contreras Llano is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the biochemistry, molecular, cellular and developmental biology graduate group. He holds a B.E and an M.S. in biotechnology and has carried out research in areas such as plant and microbial biochemistry, molecular biology and synthetic biology.

Llano works in the laboratory of Dr. Cheemeng Tan, where his research focuses on the development of novel cell-free protein synthesis systems, and the engineering of natural and artificial cells.

Luis Eduardo Contreras Llano Business Development Fellow 2020-21 in the lab

What drew you to the Business Development Fellowship program?

The part of my Ph.D. program that I enjoy the most is being involved in the development of molecular tools with the potential to make an impact outside of academic research. However, as Ph.D. students in biological sciences, we lack formal business development training and most of us don’t have the knowledge, network and expertise that would help us to translate our research into business ideas. I see an opportunity to change this.

Through the fellowship program, I plan to acquire the training, skills and strategy required for getting a biotechnological product out to the market and learn how to approach the idea of starting a company. I hope this program will help expand my professional network and provide me with useful tools for a successful career at the intersection of science, technology and business. 

What excites you about growing your entrepreneurial mindset?

As a scientist in academia, you are used to thinking that your research is advancing your field of study and that it will have a direct impact in society well down the timeline, perhaps decades. Growing an entrepreneurial mindset represents to me to learn how to transform academic research into ideas with business potential. This fellowship program excites me with the opportunity to make a plausible and more direct impact on people’s lives in a shorter time span.

What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation for me is a process. First, we have to identify a persistent problem or a need. Then, we come with ideas to solve this issue with a range of trade-offs between feasibility, novelty, complexity and economical advantage. Eventually we will find one that has an edge over the current way of solving that problem, representing a meaningful technological advancement. The ability to repeat this process over and over is a key element of any successful scientist, laboratory or company.

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