Masters in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship

Matt H.

PRIME Class of '19
Undergraduate Major: Bachelor of Arts, Neuroscience
Undergraduate Institution: Boston University

1. Where did you go to undergraduate school and what was your major? 

Before PRIME, I was on the path to becoming a neuroscientist to fix the brain with technology. I studied Neuroscience, through computational, neurobiological, and cognitive lenses, and Buddhism in Boston University’s Undergraduate Neuroscience Program (BA, ‘13). During my undergraduate studies, I was also hired by Apple at 18, after many intense rounds of interviews, into a commercial enterprise health technology sales role, bringing iPad (1st generation) to market.
But after graduating, I followed the “neuroscience orthodoxy”, spending 4 years at Columbia University Medical Center (‘14-’18) being mentored by an MD/PhD psychiatric neuroscientist principal investigator. 
But, with every scientific hypothesis I was testing, and with every medication regimen my mentor could not get his patients to adhere to, all I wanted to do was build real-world solutions to change this paradigm. 
In other words, I knew I wanted to forge my own path in the neurosciences for the global brain and mental health patient populations. I did not apply to other graduate school programs. A traditional MBA was too formulaic. The PhD was too theoretical. PRIME was the ideal amalgam. And I knew that Brown was the utopian academic environment to help me bring that vision to life with the intellectual and creative freedom I needed in a graduate school setting.

2. What was your first job post PRIME?

I joined Alex Therapeutics, a Stockholm-based, mental health technology startup combining artificial intelligence, digital psychology, and design to empower big pharma and health systems with digital companions to medications for enhanced patient outcomes through behavior change.
The company is venture capital-backed by the founder of Candy Crush, Riccardo Zacconi. I met the founding team in Stockholm during our PRIME Global Immersion Experience and, striking up a casual chat over coffee, felt immediate alignment in our visions for building technology-enabled, human-centric, design-conscientious, aesthetically captivating mental health brands.
After agreeing that I would build the company’s global expansion business model as my PRIME thesis, I was asked to join full-time as Global Head of Business Development to lead an international commercial expansion across Europe, Asia, and North America through translational research partnerships and strategic alliances.

Matthew was subsequently promoted to Chief Innovation Officer, where his responsibility was to lead international big pharma, health system, public health, and government enterprise partnerships towards Series A funding. Today, over 100,000 patients have used the company’s digital products to support their mental health recovery journey. 

3. What are you doing now?

I am still very involved in brain and mental health technology innovation, but with a focus on building the era of Alzeimer’s disease prevention. From the many billions of dollars invested over the last few decades, the industry is now at a revolutionary inflection point in treatment and diagnosis options and blood and neuroimaging biomarkers. 
But precision diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment is the next frontier to realize the full value of these advancements for Alzheimer’s disease patients and their families. Today, I serve as Vice President, Business Development at ViewMind, the global leader in precision measurement of neurocognitive health based on ocular digital phenotyping.
With intelligent algorithms and immersive reality, ViewMind’s technology measures fine grain changes in cognition and associated brain structures from oculometrics. The ultra-high sensitivity and specificity is so unprecedented that the technology can predict brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s, up to decades before clinical symptoms appear with only a 15-minute, non-invasive test that works regardless of age, gender, language, or culture.

4. How has your PRIME experience made a difference for you?

PRIME taught me how to think like a creative, experiment like a scientist, execute like a business operator, and build relationships like a citizen of the world — all, as the composite force to drive innovation.
Brown taught me to embrace learnings beyond the bounds of a single scholarly discipline when translating innovation into universally valuable concepts, products, and technologies for ubiquitously unmet needs.
Together, Brown and PRIME taught me that you can’t do business sitting on your rear end.
I walked in through the Van Wickle Gates having spent a decade thinking deeply about the physiological mechanisms underlying diseases of the mind and the brain, developing hypotheses to evaluate novel treatment approaches, and conceptualizing the technologies to enhance them.
I walked out with a nuanced, pragmatic intuition for the logic involved in aligning all of the product, marketing, operational, distribution, economic, management, and financing levers that must be pulled to bring those technologies to life.

5. What is your fondest memory of your time at Brown?

Brown runs in my family. While studying Applied Mathematics at a very young age at Brown in the 70s, my dad, Larry Heller ‘77, earned a reputation as the legendary head statistician of Brown’s iconic hockey teams of the late 70’s (nicknamed, “The Pencil” for the statistical calculations he would do in his head). He also took a few Professor Hazeltine courses — 50 years ago now!
One afternoon in the fall of 2018, while walking near Barus & Holley with him and my goldendoodle, Harvey (also ‘19), we ran into Professor Hazeltine. Two generations of Brunonian Hellers, one Professor Hazeltine. It was a very special moment. I will cherish it for the rest of my life.

6. What advice would you have for new PRIME students and PRIME graduates?

Find your passion. Find your people. Find your community. Everything clicks when you find your passion. Your people bring it to life. And if your community doesn’t exist, build it. They will come.
Before PRIME, get to Providence early, and get there hungry. For knowledge, for collaboration, for community, for creativity, for discovery. For finding your passion. Get there early to define your vision, your intentions, for what you want to get out of your Brown Graduate School experience.
And get out there! Go to the Brown-RISD gathering. Go to the Providence entrepreneur group meetings. Go to that Brown history lecture. Go talk to the Brown undergraduate English, religion, physics, art, and Japanese culture concentrators. Go talk to the Brown PhD students in biology, biotechnology, engineering, philosophy, linguistics, and art history. Go talk to the Brown medical students. Go meet the RISD artists and designers. These are the relationships that will nurture your faculty to think creatively for the rest of your life. To push the boundaries of everything you came into Brown thinking you knew about what was intellectually possible.