Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Tina Woods is founder of Collider Health, a health innovation catalyst that works with organisations of all shapes and sizes to think and do differently and transform health with meaningful impact. Tina is chair of Future Health Collective, a multi-disciplinary, cross-industry group geared to foster collaboration and radical innovation in areas of unmet need in health and social care. Tina is passionate about helping young businesses and new ventures succeed and looking to pioneer more socially-driven collaborations. She has established relationships with leading incubators, accelerators, investors, digital health startups, clinical innovators and tech corporates. Before founding Collider Health Tina spent many years in the agency world, helping big pharma and other healthcare corporates educate doctors and create awareness around new drugs, treatments and diagnostics. Alongside her commercial work, Tina runs a social enterprise on science innovation, ColliderSCIENCE, working with leading scientists, innovators and designers to equip young people with the skills and confidence to become inventors and change agents in science and medicine.
What is the idea behind Collider Health?
Collider Health is a health innovation catalyst that works with organisations of all shapes and sizes to think and do differently and transform health with meaningful impact, via collaborative ventures and strategic partnerships. The pace of innovation needs to keep up with today's relentless quest for better health solutions at lower cost. Companies need to be more agile and evolve business models to avoid being left behind or becoming extinct. Innovators across the spectrum of wellcare and sickcare, in large and small organisations, need support to connect ideas with money and collaborate better together.
When did it all start?
My idea started about 5 years ago when I could see seismic shifts happening everywhere in my professional sphere – with technology profoundly impacting on business models with my clients, particularly in pharma. At the same time, I could see my own teenage children woefully unprepared to enter a world of uncertainty driven by the exponential pace of technological change - being taught in an educational system focussed on skills needed for the industrial age of last century. Exactly the same thing was happening in large corporate organisations, with many people ‘trapped’ on a treadmill of thinking and doing based on what used to work- not based on a mindset of continuous, creative re-invention on what might be needed in the future. My epiphany moment came when I watched Sir Ken Robinson’s TEDTalk ‘Schools Kills Creativity’- which gave me the idea to set up my education social enterprise, ColliderSCIENCE to inspire kids in science and technology, and also to say goodbye to the organisation I was working for at the time, and do something where I felt I could really make a difference and bring innovation from outside, via the startup community, into big organisations.
Tell us more about your entrepreneurial journey as woman in tech and business. What was the biggest obstacle?
My biggest obstacle has always been and always will be lack of confidence. I am plagued with self-doubt. Fortunately, my sense of optimism and relentless curiosity always dominate my actions in the end.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Despite being a complete workaholic and work obsessive, my biggest achievement will always be being a mother to three incredibly gorgeous, talented and kind sons (aged 15, 18 and 20) and having a happy marriage to a wonderfully supportive and extremely interesting husband.
From a work perspective, my first big achievement was when I was 25 and set up the New York office of a London based agency, which quickly grew to a sizeable organisation - I had a degree in genetics, no business experience, and a business plan scribbled on one A4 size sheet of paper, but just got on with it and it worked! Within a year the new operation was bringing in over $1 million extra revenue into the agency, which for a 25-year-old (and this was over 25 years ago), was not bad going.
What are the challenges of being a female founder / entrepreneur?
Bias and preconceived ideas of those around you. Self-confidence for me has always been an issue. Getting support and stimulus from like-minded individuals who can support you is critical. I have always been resourceful but cutting out the time wasters (and big talkers who often are ‘no-doers’) is a skill that I need more of - I find it difficult to say no as I would like to help people and I am insanely curious about new opportunities. Making sure I don’t burn out, have some fun and spend enough time with friends and family is always a challenge.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am really excited to be working with AXA together with Our Mobile Health, One HealthTech and Women of Wearables on AXA’s new ‘Women in Health Tech’ category of the 2018 AXA Health Tech & You Awards. The award aims to support women who are changing the way people think about their health and how to care for others through exciting and innovative health technology that has been designed and pioneered by women. It has been a lot of fun so far and I get to meet and be inspired by so many other incredible women. What I am struck by is how true the adage ‘necessity if the mother of invention’ with so many of the best ideas often coming from the need to develop solutions for problems confronted by the women themselves or by those they care for. It is hugely rewarding to do my part, however small, in helping the trailblazers and pioneers be successful despite the often very lonely journey to get there.
Another very interesting project I am doing at the moment is setting up the Future Health Collective, a multi-disciplinary, cross-industry group to foster collaboration and radical innovation in areas of unmet need in health and social care with a vision to improve lives for people. I am working with some pretty amazing people here on my Steering Panel, like Professor Shafi Ahmed, virtual reality surgeon, Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, Founder of Redington, and Mark Stephen Meadows, leading blockchain innovator, from Botanic Technologies in Silicon Valley. The first theme we are looking at in the Collective is on growing a data economy around 'data that matters' and the second theme is on prediction of life course (predicting and improving happiness as we go through life, new concepts in ageing and longevity etc). I am right now organising a round table, ‘Data and the Future of Health and Care’, partnering with the Government Office for Science and involving senior leaders from the NHS, social care, third sector, industry, technology and policy to explore specific opportunities and barriers of using data to underpin new, person-centric and outcome- focused models of health and care. We are focussing on what matters to people who need the most help, and explore how to nurture a digital economy within a sustainable ethical, social and business framework.
I am also really excited to be working with the inspirational Maja Pantic, Professor of Behavioural Computing at Imperial College and leading expert on AI, planning the next phase of a national campaign to inspire more teenage girls to study computer science. This campaign aims to capitalise on the UK’s status as a world-leader in the science underpinning AI, with estimates suggesting that that AI could add in the region of £654 billion to the UK economy by 2035. I was recently invited by Maja to sit on Imperial’s Equality, Diversity and Education in Computer Science Committee as an external advisor, and look forward to helping the campaign wearing my hat for the education social enterprise I run, ColliderSCIENCE, to inspire young people in STEM and entrepreneurialism.
Meanwhile, I am keeping busy advising and mentoring start-ups, writing for D/SRUPTION Magazine (my latest article was on blockchain in health) and working with my partners including GIANT (Global Innovation and New Technology) Health Event which I helped launch last year.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Helping get more women into technology is hugely important to me. There are many statistics out there that show how few women founders there are generally and especially in tech businesses. One of the reasons I am so passionate about the education work I am doing with Imperial College is that gender issues in STEM education are a major contributor to the problems with diversity that currently exist in the global technology sector, with serious economic and societal consequences. New technology could have a disproportionately greater negative impact on women concerning jobs, and men currently dominate in AI and other digital disruptors – with the risk that traditional biases guide the algorithms that will be at the heart of future products and services.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
I love the ad by Nike ‘Just Do It’…and Susan Jeffers’ advice echoed in her book ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.’ I get my courage from the fact that you can’t be an expert of the ‘unknown’- so just tread the new path that no one has tread before and no one can tell you are wrong! Follow your passions, be true to yourself and surround yourself with people who will support you on your journey.
What will be the key trends in the wearable tech and health tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
Everything is converging around the consumer and we are seeing a shift from sick care to wellcare which is impacting on business models in insurance and pharma, for example, and bringing in other industries, like (driverless) cars, retail and fashion into health. And the biggest unmet needs lie with the older consumer, a growing demographic with enormous spending power whose aspirations are not being met by current products and services. I have a personal interest in the data economy and blockchain technology combined with other exponential technologies like AI to democratise access to health and empower citizens with their data (whether genetic, physiological or behavioural) - to help them manage their health as seamlessly and effortlessly as with other aspects of their lives, and on their terms. The big tech giants will all continue to invest heavily in health and it will be interesting to see how legislation and regulation (like the impending General Data Protection Regulations) will affect the commercial environment for smaller organisations to innovate and prosper.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in wearable tech and health tech?
I have always been super impressed with Maxine Mackintosh who set up One HealthTech- a shining example of a young woman who just trail blazes her own path. She is genuine, principled and incredibly proactive and supportive. I have always admired Jackie Marshall-Cyrus - a nurse by profession who lead the Long Term Care Revolution at Innovate UK and reminds us all not to forget that tech needs to serve people and humanity first and foremost. There are so many other pioneering, inspiring women in health tech that I can’t really stop at 3 - women like Mary Matthews who founded Memrica and of course I am bowled over by the success that Marija Butkovic has achieved with Women of Wearables already (though not surprised by this at all, having seen her enormous energy and enthusiasm)!
LinkedIn: Tina Woods
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.