Micah Siegel, 33
Transforms research from universities and national labs into successful startups
Thomas Edison and Eli Whitney are Micah Siegel’s idols- not just because they were great inventors, but because they turned their inventions into revolutionary products. “Ninety percent of the rewards go to the guy who figures out how to scale up what he is doing,” says Siegel. He earned PhDs in electrical engineering and molecular biology at Caltech, where he codeveloped genetically engineered sensors that change colors whenever a neuron’s functions are excited or inhibited. Twenty pharmaceutical labs are now using the sensors to test drugs. Business success excited Siegel’s own neurons, so in 2000 he cofounded Concept2Company in Palo Alto, CA, to help other scientists commercialize research. Since then, he has evaluated more than 350 business proposals from university and national labs and has raised millions of dollars on investments in several startups. In some deals, C2C steps in and handles the “business functions” many scientists hate- attracting management teams, licensing patents, schmoozing customers, raising capital- improving researchers’ chances or becoming Edisons or Whitneys.