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Kevin Chen

CEO, Co-Founder
Kevin Chen
Kevin Chen
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway
School Subject

About me

I was born/grew up in: Ottawa, Ontario

I now live in: Montreal, Quebec

I completed my training/education at: Queen's University, B.Sc. Biochemistry (Hons.)

What I do at work

My main role is to find ways to manufacture important ingredients for healthcare. The endocannabinoid system and the compounds that affect it, have great potential to treat many different diseases. This could help people live healthier and happier lives. Right now, we are doing that by creating strains of yeast to produce these compounds. This frees us from having to rely on cannabis agriculture. My role on this team is mainly to raise funds for the next stage of our company's development. I make presentations to investors. I explain our research and show them how they can help.  My day-to-day work includes meeting with our executive team. We address any challenges, make decisions and get progress updates. Aside from that, I'm send emails, prepare presentations and have meetings with investors (which are virtual for now).

My career path is

I started out by being interested in biochemistry and biotechnology from high school biology class. It all started when I learned about DNA as a "blueprint" for living things. I also liked robotics and playing with Lego growing up. Maybe living things are just the ultimate robotic systems to me. Anyways, I got to participate in the iGEM (international genetically engineered machine) competition during my undergrad. This really opened my eyes to building the vision and impact of synthetic biology. As a team we were able to test out our own ideas. After that, I got to work for another startup in synbio. This opened up the world of entrepreneurship to me. I started graduate school but dropped out once I got into the world's first-ever accelerator program for synbio companies. It is now called Rebelbio or Indiebio. Check my LinkedIn profile for more detail on my career path.

I am motivated by

I love science and technology. I was on my way to becoming a professor. Then I realized that starting companies is a much faster and more effective way of advancing science and inventing things that are going to improve the lives of people around the world. I'm always excited about new ideas and future inventions, because if they work, they will change everything. I also love the involvement and impact on society that we are going to have.

Our project needs involvement from regulators, investors, consumers, manufacturers, and healthcare professionals. As a result, I get to learn about how all these people are going to come together to make our project a success. That's super exciting too! Creating the vision and plans that are going to change the world, and then actually making those things happen is really exciting to me.

How I affect peoples’ lives

The products we are making are going to have huge impacts on human health. One of the amazing things is how many treatments are going to come from the endocannabinoid system in the near future. I also care a lot about the staff that I work with at Hyasynth. My success in fundraising keeps the company operational.

Outside of work I

I love the outdoors, and circus arts, specifically juggling. I've been juggling as a hobby since high school. The community of artists, and hobbyists who also do circus are some of my best friends. It's not an art form you get exposed to through regular schooling. However, it's actually in the midst of a sort of golden age now, as circus/juggling performances have become extremely technical and sophisticated. I'm also a fan of makerspaces or other community spaces that make tools for fabrication (woodworking, metalworking, 3D printing, or even biotechnology) accessible to the general public. Lastly, I love volunteering as a mentor for other startups and for the iGEM competition. I'm always eager the share what I've learned, and help the next generation of scientists/entrepreneurs.

My advice to others

I think I worried too much about getting good grades, or sticking with the current system of education or "career path". While you are young, you can explore. The world is changing all the time! You can spend time learning about a new field (such as synbio, or cryptocurrency) just for fun, and maybe it'll lead you somewhere interesting. Maybe in a few years, that field will grow and you'll have a few extra years of experience over lots of people (even your teachers). It's always fun to explore and you'll always meet some amazing people along the way. Most people are happy to meet with younger folks too. Just remember to enjoy those adventures, and don't take things too seriously.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Math
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Computer Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Played video games
  • Was really creative
  • Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
  • Liked to take things apart to see how they worked
  • Liked Juggling

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