Dr. Malcolm Eaton’s passion for innovation was ignited during his PhD research in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
“I did four years at an amazing lab at the University of Calgary studying how placental hormones affect fetal growth and maternal health during pregnancy. I learned a lot about data analysis and medicine. Then over the last couple of years, I wanted to get more into the innovation space,” explains Malcolm. “I wanted to be more in the implementation role, as opposed to research that takes years or even decades to get into people’s hands. I wanted to get closer to actually delivering these amazing innovations.”
That desire to create human impact with innovation led Malcolm to Western University in Ontario where he did a medical innovation fellowship.
“I was on a team with doctors, PhDs and engineers and we actually started a medical device company over the course of about 10 months, which is still going.”
But Malcolm wanted to come back to Calgary, where he grew up. He had heard about Thin Air Labs and the growing innovation ecosystem. And after a conversation with Dr. Katie Greene, also on the Funding Catalyst team, he jumped at the opportunity to join the team.
“I wanted to join Thin Air Labs because it's based in my hometown. And I really believe in the vision,” admits Malcolm. “I think everyone here at Thin Air believes in that mission of supporting ventures to build out the innovation ecosystem in Calgary, and it’s very nice to share that common vision with the team.”
As a Funding Catalyst, Malcolm partners with startups to help them access non-dilutive capital.
“We essentially unlock the power of non-dilutive funding for early stage ventures and we help with project support and getting funding for companies to get them from A to B,” says Malcolm.
He finds working daily with founders to help them secure grants, both big and small, very inspiring.
“I wanted to be more in the implementation role, as opposed to research that takes years or even decades to get into people’s hands. I wanted to get closer to actually delivering these amazing innovations.” ---Dr. Malcolm Eaton, Funding Catalyst
“We’ve done everything from local grants to test out your app, to Department of Defence grants for large clinical trials in the US,” explains Malcolm. “To see little companies just starting to major companies at the clinical trial stage that are still using grants even though they have complex operations…. it’s an amazing exposure to the market, evaluating companies on a daily basis and interacting with founders.”
And he can’t believe how quickly the funding is coming in.
“We’ve created more impact than I’d expected already,” admits Malcolm. “Since I’ve joined the team last year, we’ve basically doubled the amount we’ve raised for founders from 7 to 14 million.”
Malcolm feels this work also allows him to put his medical and scientific background to good use, particularly when he’s supporting medtech and healthtech companies.
“In medicine you’re speaking a different language. Even between specialties in medicine it’s difficult to understand the person talking to you,” explains Malcolm. “But generally speaking, there’s a level of language that needs to be understood, and a level of conscientiousness when it comes to the detail required to convey a message in this sector. You can explain very complex systems with fairly simple language, if you do it day after day. And that’s what we do here at Thin Air, we’re translating those complex messages into value for ventures.”
With this kind of specialized support, Malcolm helps more startups to grow and deliver on their amazing innovations as he’d hoped to do. And it means more founders will be creating meaningful human impact as they #BuildWhatsNext.