New Group Fans The Flame of Entrepreneurial Docs

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Dr. Paul Szotek (left), a hernia surgeon and chief executive officer of the Indiana Hernia Center, and Dr. Todd Saxton, IU Kelley School of Business associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, are the co-founders of SoPE Indiana. Dr. Paul Szotek (left), a hernia surgeon and chief executive officer of the Indiana Hernia Center, and Dr. Todd Saxton, IU Kelley School of Business associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, are the co-founders of SoPE Indiana.

The founders of a new Indiana organization say healthcare is a hot bed of potential entrepreneurs, but many medical professionals lack the business expertise to move their ideas to the marketplace. Central Indiana health and life sciences professionals are creating an Indiana chapter of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, a national nonprofit and clinical innovation network.

SoPE Indiana aims to be a hub of information, education and networking for Indiana’s life sciences entrepreneurs. Physicians founded the national organization in 2011, but SoPE embraces all healthcare innovators, such as nurses, dentists, engineers and IT professionals.

In the Hoosier state, the effort is being led by Indiana University Kelley School of Business Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship Dr. Todd Saxton, who also teaches in the Kelley Business of Medicine Physician MBA program. He says many students and alumni have a desire to join the startup landscape in Indiana through advising or investing.

"SoPE is a great opportunity to help what I see as very frustrated life sciences entrepreneurs gain better access to clinical insight, feedback, dollars and other talent to help them launch and grow their ventures," says Saxton. "I'm always blown away working with these physicians who have ideas in the business realm how smart and motivated they are, and how much they want to do good things in their area of practice. It's fun to be able to play a role in helping them realize their vision and move those ideas forward."

Dr. Paul Szotek, a hernia surgeon and chief executive officer of the Indiana Hernia Center, is SoPE's other co-founder. He earned his Kelley Physician MBA after a failed venture attempt.

"Physicians, nurses and clinicians have ideas, but we don't necessarily understand how to execute an idea or understand the business end of it," says Szotek. "SoPE Indiana will... provide the resources they need to raise money, to put together a team and to manage and market a business."

In addition to uniting clinicians and others in the life sciences community, the group aims to attract potential funding sources. SoPE Indiana is currently sponsored and supported by the Kelley School of Business, Ice Miller, Elevate Ventures, TelaBio, Char Blue and others.

SoPE Indiana will host an inaugural meeting June 21 at 5:30 p.m. For more information and to register, visit the SoPE Indiana website.

Saxton says physicians are likely even more frustrated with healthcare than patients, and that motivates them to innovate.
Saxton says SoPE will help doctors both find funding and make investments themselves.
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