Data Entrepreneurship Club Launched

New group aims to accelerate data-product incubation. 

A common claim heard today is that data is going to revolutionize business and redefine industries in all fields. The European Commission estimated that the value of the European Union data economy would increase to €739 billion by 2020 from €285 billion in 2015.

Precision medicine represents a data-driven innovation centering on the individual and it is proving to be a leading driver of that increase. But data entrepreneurship isn’t easy, and finding the lowest-cost way to create the highest economic value requires careful use of both data resources and techniques.

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Chunlei Tang, a research fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School and a developer of numerous data-driven products, published The Data Industry: The Business and Economics of Information and Big Dataon what to expect from an increasingly data technology-based economy. Following its publication, The Economist published two related articles, both of which echo the opinions in Tang’s book.

To address these challenges, Tang and her colleague Wen Chen, an HMS research associate in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, decided to launch a new organization to offer entrepreneurial opportunities to like-minded students and fellows at Harvard. 

Besides having an outstanding publication record, Chen is also an entrepreneur with extensive experience in industrialization-research projects, such as the development of new vaccines based on aptamers and bacteria-based energy storage. The pair’s mentors, David W. Bates and James J. Chou, gave their full support to this initiative.

The Harvard Data Entrepreneurship Club obtained approval in March 2018 at HMS and Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Core members include Jianxiong Sheng, Min J. Kang, Suzanne V. Blackley and Ruth Akindele. The club’s advisors are Eugene W. Mont and Lynn A. Volk.

Data entrepreneurship at HMS aims to combine research projects and innovation driven by researchers’ own experiences. The club aims to create a blockchain-based platform as a big data arena within the Harvard community, to provide an entrepreneurial orientation and to accelerate data-product incubation. 

Even the world’s best health systems are fragmented. The Harvard data entrepreneurship team envisions that sharing data will make it possible to form economic cluster effects within the greater health care system, including hospitals, insurance companies, medical suppliers and drug companies. Fragmented, insecure and proprietary health care data could be completely redesigned under a blockchain-based system. 

The club will publish a technical white paper this summer, in which it will lay out its proposal for a global (Boston-Jakarta-Shanghai) network.

Following the white paper and allocation of funds, the Harvard Data Entrepreneurship Club plans to seek more members and increase involvement from the extended Harvard-MIT community. 

In the coming months, the club will be hosting a competition with grant awards for participants to develop innovative solutions across several disciplines to further support the goal of building the blockchain. 

Additional club-sponsored events focusing on networking and business opportunities related to the data industry will be offered as well.

For more information about how to join the club or to contact its members, please visit the website.