Carmichael Roberts, 31
Carmichael Roberts greatest invention is himself. A scientist with entrepreneurial dreams, colleagues say Roberts has poured unmatched energy into his transition from lab bench to boardroom. After carrying out world-class glycobiology research for his PhD at Duke, Roberts co-founded NPG Research, a nonprofit institute that’s landed funds from biotechnology companies and the National Institutes of Health to turn his science into lifesaving drugs. Soon, it was on to an apprenticeship in the for-profit realm when he joined Union Carbide, a chemical firm trying to break into new life-science businesses. After breezing through an eighteen-month training program in four months, Roberts started sizzling up the ranks. But entrepreneurship beckoned, and he headed to Boston where he’s getting an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Business.
Roberts didn’t wait long before launching his first venture. His startup company, Surface Logix, which he co-founded this year with Harvard nanotechnology guru George Whitesides (see "Nanotech: Art ofthe Possible," TRNovember/December 1998), is looking to commercialize a chemical approach to microfabrication. Handing over the promising technology to Roberts doesn’t worry Whitesides, who says, "Every one of Carmichael’s instincts is what I expect from an entrepreneur with 15 years more experience." Beyond his scientific and business skills, Whitesides says it is Roberts’ outstanding human qualities--enthusiasm, humor, courage and caring--that guarantee his success organizing and motivating others to move innovations into the marketplace.