09 Sep IU Ventures appoints Emily Atkinson as new venture analyst
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — While pursuing a Ph.D. in anatomy, cell biology and physiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Emily Atkinson developed a passion for communicating about science. As her work in laboratories increased, she became steadily more interested in talking about how research discoveries can be transformed into products, treatments and other innovations that improve people’s lives.
As a newly appointed venture analyst for IU Ventures, Indiana University’s early-stage venture and angel investment arm, Atkinson is eager to ignite that passion — and draw on her own laboratory experience — toward advancing the ideas and innovations of IU-affiliated founders and furthering a culture of entrepreneurship across IU and the Hoosier state.
“This position with IU Ventures really is the culmination of several of my interests and educational experiences,” Atkinson said. “I love science but don’t plan to run my own lab. At the same time, I love science communications, working with scientists and people in general, and talking about groundbreaking innovation coming out of lab settings. The process of patenting and protecting new drugs and other discoveries is vital to a lab’s success, and now I have the opportunity to help entrepreneurs start companies with the support of venture capital. I am very excited about this position.”
Atkinson, an Indianapolis native who completed her Ph.D. last month, is looking forward to “pulling back the curtain” on the discoveries of scientists and scholars with IU connections and presenting them with a path to bring their innovations to the market. One of her major goals, she says, will be to help IU Ventures effectively evaluate emerging, high-potential ventures with an eye toward strengthening Indiana’s increasingly diverse and robust life sciences industry, especially in the key areas of biotech and pharmaceuticals.
“Scientists can sometimes become so focused on their work in the lab, deservedly so, that they don’t stop to consider what steps they’ll need to take to deliver their eventual discoveries to the market or how to communicate clearly and effectively to the public about the benefits of their innovations,” Atkinson said. “Sometimes they need that spark to bring their labor to life and the support and encouragement to take more risks, especially when they might be experiencing times of self-doubt.
“As I work with other members of the IU Ventures team to evaluate potential investment opportunities, I will be able to bring a fresh perspective of my science background and ability to speak the language of both the scientist and member of the general public.”
As a Ph.D. student at the IU School of Medicine, Atkinson studied pharmacological and genetic treatments for osteoporosis. She was also involved in multiple science outreach and advocacy groups in the Indianapolis area. She earned a bachelor of science degree in health and rehabilitation science from the School of Health and Human Sciences at IUPUI.
“Emily brings to the IU Ventures team years of working in laboratory settings, a passion for scientific outreach, and a strong determination to bridge the gap between the needs of our communities and the discoveries taking place across our universities and research institutes,” said Jason Whitney, chief venture officer at IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Network. “Her unique scientific background and experiences make her a perfect fit to advance our mission of fueling the cycle of innovation across IU and Indiana and investing in people and ideas that improve communities here in the Hoosier state and beyond.”
As a Hoosier native and IU alumnus, Atkinson recognizes the potential for IU’s global community of founders and funders to generate major and long-lasting social and economic impact. She is also excited to sell future entrepreneurs and investors on a region of the country that continues to be recognized for its creative culture, entrepreneurial spirit and access to resources, such as talent and investment, that enable the successful development of emerging ventures.
“There’s still a lot I have to learn, but I know Indiana University is a research powerhouse, that we have strong partners in [Eli] Lilly [and Co.] and other major organizations that support our mission, and that there is huge potential all around us,” she said. “There are so many people connected to IU with the ability to bring discoveries to the market. Our job is to get them to double down on their discoveries and demonstrate for them the positive impact they can make.”
About IU Ventures:
IU Ventures invests in and supports IU-affiliated early-stage companies. Its investment programs include the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, IU Angel Network, Shoebox Fund and Innovate Indiana Fund. It further supports IU founders through the Executive in Residence Program and IU Founders and Funders Network. Student support is provided through a variety of engagements, including the new IU Venture Fellows Program. Each program takes unique approaches to accelerate and support the positive impacts that entrepreneurs affiliated with IU already achieve across the world. IU Ventures is a recognized leader in increasing opportunities for diverse and historically underserved entrepreneurs and investing in Indiana startups with a shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.