Begin with the end in mind and work backward to move forward

Begin with the end in mind and work backward to move forward

With his extensive corporate ánd startup experience, Joris Bokkes helps startups position themselves as attractive partnership opportunities for large corporations.

In 2006, HUB mentor Joris Bokkes conducted research for his master thesis at Immunicon Corp., an In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) start-up based in Huntingdon Valley, PA, USA specialized in liquid biopsies. It developed the CELLSEARCH technology, to detect rare cells in blood. 14 years later, when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, Joris read an article stating that the biomarker he studied for his master thesis (i.e. Circulated Endothelial Cells) in conjunction with the CELLSEARCH technology could conceptionally be used to determine the health of the cardiovascular system of a COVID-19 patient. Back then, he had thus contributed to fundamental research around a method, which could be used to guide treatment decisions for COVID-19 patients.

While at Immunicon, he identified his career sweet spot, which is at the intersection of innovation, clinical impact, people dynamics and business impact. From that moment onwards, he has pursued a career in this career sweet spot. Previous roles include Program Director Oncology (Chief Medical Office, department Strategy & Innovation) and Innovation Management Consultant at Philips, strategy consultant and supply chain coordinator. His current activities as an entrepreneur are most definitely also within this sweet spot.

In March 2020, when the pandemic started in Europe, Joris was sailing in the Caribbean. He had to go back to The Netherlands instantly. There, his living room changed into an office where he worked long days for his advisory company &INNOVATE. His company was engaged with accelerating an R&D project, which could improve viral detection and stop the spread of viral pandemics, such as COVID-19.

“Do not just go for the corporate partnership that has the channels that are needed now, but have the end in mind to make sure the partnership is not hindering another necessary partnership later on.”
– Joris Bokkes

Joris has been part of the HUB team for over a year now. He has experience in analyzing a multitude of startups, primarily in oncology. He is familiar with almost every facet of value creation and innovation management. Joris: “This, together with my extensive experience in working with US companies, from early stage to large established corporations, made joining the HUB team a perfect match”. Because of his experience as a strategy consultant, Joris is an expert in conveying the key strategy goals of companies. He leverages this experience in his role as a member of the HUB team. For example, he contributed to the Information Memorandum of HUB Participant Sensius, a company that empowers cancer therapy through thermotherapy.

With his corporate and startup experience, Joris now uses part of his time to help startups position themselves as attractive partnership opportunities for large corporations. The most important thing to keep in mind for startups, Joris even calls it a mantra, is: “Begin with the end in mind and work backward to move forward.”: Have the end in mind and know exactly what is required to get there.

Joris advices startups regarding their growth strategy: “Do not just go for the corporate partnership that has the channels that are needed now, but have the end in mind to make sure the partnership is not hindering another necessary partnership later on.” In order to properly follow the early mentioned mantra, and to know what you have to do at every step, a multidisciplinary team is crucial. In addition to the necessary in-house knowledge, the right external people have to be involved, in order to determine the innovation roadmap.

“The better companies can proof their promise, the better they will be positioned to succeed.”
Joris Bokkes

Looking at the overall innovation roadmap in the Life Sciences sector, Joris sees multiple trends merge. A rapidly growing technology trend is digital. The volume of data in the healthcare sector will grow tremendously. Joris also expects a lot from chip development to create innovative enabling technologies for the life sciences industry. The impact digital improvements can make in improving the healthcare workflows and health ecosystems are also noteworthy. Joris: “The news around delayed or cancelled hospital treatments is shocking, so I imagine that any solution that could keep the patient out of the hospital, for example to diagnose at home, will get a large market opportunity. Take ECG Excellence, which also takes part in the HUB program. With the technology of ECG Excellence, it is feasible that the ECG is recorded by a General Practitioner instead of a cardiologist.” The developments in the In Vitro Diagnostics Space (with Infectious Diseases and Oncology as the largest segments), will also be further accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Life Science sector faces major global challenges, yet offering innovative companies endless opportunities for growth. For Dutch companies, it is a wise move to expand their markets to the US. The healthcare market in the US is big and the healthcare ecosystems in the various states are more uniform in comparison to the different healthcare ecosystems of each EU-country. Creating access to a large pool of venture capital in the US as well as the market overseas, is something Dutch companies should incorporate in their value creation strategy as early as possible. To prepare, Joris advises to speak with as many people in the US as possible and get a large network in order to realize a soft landing. The system in the US is totally different and as a newcomer you cannot know it all yourself. To convince investors, companies need to have compelling clinical data that show their technology is superior. Joris concludes with: “The better companies can proof their promise, the better they will be positioned to succeed.”

Joris Bokkes

Managing Director of &INNOVATE (Business Development, Innovation Management and Strategy Consulting in LifeSciences & HealthTech) | Senior Director at Holland US Bridge