Monday, July 20, 2015

Meeting & Mixing of the Minds at BU OTD’s Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll

It was an evening full of collisions of all kinds at the Boston University Office of Technology Development’s 6th Annual Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll (TDRR) held in the George Sherman Union on BU’s campus set along Boston’s Commonwealth Ave. Entrepreneurs, academic scientists, industry folks and funders from venture capital and government / non-profit entities alike mixed and mingled over the course of an eventful evening. Much of the action centered around “Funder Alley” – a row of booths and monitor displays that featured many of the area’s funders of upstart biotechnology, including your own B-BIC. Kingsley Flood provided the ambiance, laying down tracks of clashed brass, percussion and string over vocals that spread out atop the clamor of casual conversations springing up from across the convention hall floor.

Starting from humble roots in 2010, TDRR has quickly developed into the premiere biotech networking event of the summer, drawing larger and larger crowds year-to-year, while continuing to turn out up-and-comers from the local Boston music scene - this year’s Kingsley Flood having been recognized several times over by local outlets for their Americana style hits. New this year was the aforementioned Funder Alley as well as the MAPP - Mobile App Development Contest, which awarded cash prizes to the top three mobile app ideas. The contest’s inaugural first-prize went to J. Gregory McDaniel, PhD, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at BU, and Chiraag Devani, an engineering undergrad at BU, for their “Study BUddy” mobile app idea. Keeping with the vibes of a summer college cookout, there was grilled food and cold drink aplenty, and even a couple of cameo appearances by none other than Rhett the Boston Terrier mascot, who was seen rocking out beside the band and lofting t-shirts from the catwalk above to the frenzied party goers below.

With all of these ingredients mixed together, you have the makings of a concoction that affords the opportunity for both fun and meaningful connections to be made between the diverse crowd of attendees from Boston’s many universities and industries. It may feel like it’s always been the case that innovation has just tended to well up from university settings, particularly from those formidable Boston-area research institutions like BU, Harvard, MIT and Northeastern. But, it’s nights like tonight that remind me that it can’t hurt to attempt to help usher innovation along, by providing opportunities for more casual collisions to occur at an event like BU’s TDRR or by providing financial and educational resources for investigators and their nascent projects to grow forth. The key is, whether serendipitous or belabored, innovation isn’t likely to happen without a few collisions.

A sampling of photos from the evening - (from L to R, bottom to top) the B-BIC booth was a hotbed of activity, Kingsley Flood and Rhett supplying the R&R, the mouth of Funder Alley, sign on Commonwealth Ave. beckons!