On Thursday evening, Gary Durack, a biomedical engineer, inventor and entrepreneur will deliver Parkland College's commencement address.
Durack was CEO of iCyt Visionary Bioscience, a cell analysis company he established in Champaign almost two decades ago. The company was sold to Sony in 2009 and today Durack works at the University of Illinois, advising technology entrepreneurs.
"I'm looking forward to it, and I'm honored to be asked," said Durack, who shared with us a preview of his address.
On his advice for entrepreneurs: "Everyone thinks their idea is a wonderful idea. But not all ideas can be monetized. Not all ideas have a commercial path."
Entrepreneurs need to ask: how do they turn this idea into a business and is a larger company going to want to buy this? "That's a challenge sometimes. I always say this: It's a lot less expensive to think about things longer, to make detailed plans before you go out and start hiring people and spending money. You have to be executing once you do that."
On new products being developed that are particularly exciting: "Some of the most exciting things that are happening are in the bioengineering and medical space, often with a strong connection to our engineering organization at the university. There are new types of medical sensors, mobile devices for medical diagnostics, new tests ... that can be read at the point-of-care or doctor's office in place of a large hospital laboratory or in a large industrial laboratory" and results can be read at the office or on smartphones, making the tests more accessible and cheaper. "That's what's exciting."
On Champaign-Urbana and Parkland's role in it: "There's a growing entrepreneurial community in Champaign-Urbana and at the U of I. More people are attracted to it and participating in it. ... Parkland is, one, feeding their graduates into the university system, but also providing a lot of people to work, as we try to build these companies, in technical positions. It's an invaluable resource."