John Lucas has won two InnoCentive Challenges: Control of Bubble Size in Carbonated Beverages ($15,000 Challenge) and Stabilizing an Oil and Food-Seasoning Suspension ($25,000 Challenge).
I stumbled onto InnoCentive while visiting nature.com. I’ve won two InnoCentive Challenges and while the monetary award is nice, equally fulfilling is the satisfaction of solving a significant, real-world problem. You might find it interesting to know that you don’t have to be an ‘expert’ in the field of a particular Challenge to be successful. Take me, for example. I have a PhD in molecular biology but my successful Challenges were in engineering. All you need is a passion for learning and new ideas. Even if you do not win an award, you can’t lose because in any case you will learn something new.
For most of my career, you could say I have been in the business of ideas. During a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, I decided I wanted an alternative career in science and ended up choosing intellectual property. My first job in patents was at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a place I highly recommend for those wanting to move away from the bench but stay on the cutting edge of science. One of the great perks of working in patents, whether at a patent office, a law firm, or in-house, is that you get to see new inventions long before most others.
If you want to move into intellectual property, it is a good idea to have a law degree, so in addition to my day job, I went to law school at night. Going back to college for yet another degree (I already had a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degree) and doing so on top of a full time job was not what I would describe as a pleasant, albeit however necessary, experience. Since law school, I have worked exclusively in biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Recently, I had the opportunity to work abroad and jumped at the chance. I now live in the UK and I’m the CEO of Cizzle Biotech, a spin-out of the University of York. Needless to say, I don’t have as much time these days to work on Challenges, so please, take my place and best of luck.