John Flavin, a Chicago entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in life sciences ventures, has been named executive director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange, a newly formed hub for multidisciplinary collaborations and support for business start-up activities at the University of Chicago.
Flavin was previously executive director of Chicago Innovation Mentors, a consortium of Illinois universities and research institutions dedicated to driving commercialization of new technologies by connecting entrepreneurs with experienced corporate mentors. Flavin led Chicago Innovation Mentors from early launch in October 2011 until he joined UChicago in September 2013—having expanded the consortium to more than 180 mentors and 66 ventures.
Throughout his career, Flavin has focused on entrepreneurial finance and operations. He has led two successful initial public offerings on NASDAQ and has raised more than $200 million in private and public funding. He was also co-founder, president and chief financial officer of Advanced Life Sciences and served as chief operating officer of MediChem Life Sciences, a startup that was eventually sold to deCODE genetics, Inc.
“John’s combination of experiences launching and building his own companies, advising on launches, and working with university partners makes him ideal for this position,” said Sunil Kumar, dean of Chicago Booth. “Along with other entities across campus, he will work closely with the Polsky Center, which has launched more than 90 business ventures and will be both a partner and advisor to the CIE.”
“We are thrilled that John will be leading the CIE. His ability to bridge the gap between the research world and the business world, as he did with Chicago Innovation Mentors, will be invaluable for the University’s commercialization efforts,” said Ellen Rudnick, executive director of the Michael P. Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Flavin also has experience working with UChicago faculty and staff. The University’s Center for Technology Development & Ventures (UChicagoTech) was one of the founders of Chicago Innovation Mentors.
“John’s knowledge of the entrepreneurial community in the region is matchless,” said Alan Thomas, director of UChicagoTech. “He personally recruited the vast majority of the entrepreneur and executive talent in the mentor corps.”
The Polsky Center and UChicagoTech will be key participants in the Chicago Innovation Exchange along with other parts of the University—including Argonne National Laboratory; the University of Chicago Booth School of Business; the College; the Computation Institute; Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; the Institute for Molecular Engineering; the Marine Biological Laboratory; the Physical Sciences Division; the Biological Sciences Division and University of Chicago Medicine; the Urban Education Institute; and the University of Chicago Law School.
“I am delighted to lead this new effort and look forward to partnering with the many distinctive UChicago entities and innovators, as well as members of the surrounding community,” said Flavin.
Flavin added that his work over the next year will focus on building out the model for how the CIE will work, including how it will connect to other innovation facilities in the city of Chicago and surrounding region. The CIE is expected to open by the end of 2014.