"If you're Zack Lynch, you look for the next technology poised to take off like a rocket.
Lynch, 35, is betting that brain scientists will unleash the next waves of world-transforming discoveries. Since 2001, he has founded a flock of enterprises to track and accelerate the field of neurotechnology, which develops drugs and tools that influence the brain and nervous system. His ventures include conferences, neurotech investment analyses and a fledgling trade association.
The San Francisco entrepreneur began his career working for software companies after writing his UCLA master's thesis on the business transformations caused by the Internet. But he wanted to focus on a technology revolution that was just beginning. His wife and a brother were neurobiologists, and he got hooked on the field's possibilities.
Lynch saw the potential for rapid leaps in the understanding of the central nervous system with the rise of automated research tools such as biochips and brain imaging devices. That scientific progress, he said, could help tackle the psychiatric illnesses and nerve disorders that create an economic burden he estimates at roughly $1 trillion in the United States. Beyond disease treatments, Lynch could envision neurobiology breakthroughs that might improve memory and change emotion and communication.
"The societal implications are profound," he said.
But Lynch decided that neurotechnology businesses weren't coordinating with each other enough to advance their own interests in areas such as government research funding and private investment. No industry group represented the whole sweep of neurotech applications, which covers drugs, devices, diagnostic tests and software, he said. Like his father, Lynch started bringing competitors together to get them talking."