Have you met... David Braga Malta?

David Braga Malta is a scientist, entrepreneur, manager and life science capital investor.

David Braga Malta did his MSc and PhD in Bioengineering at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST, Lisbon). During his PhD, he developed a project on stem cell therapies in a collaboration between MIT, IST and Harvard Medical School, which culminated in his first company: Cell2Be.

David Braga Malta at his office in Lisbon.

David, if you had to hire young scientists right now which were the skills you would better appreciate in them?
A good CV is great to get my attention but after that, in an interview, I need to be able to see that you have these three soft skills:
1- Capacity to connect with others;
2- Capacity of using the tools learned in the past (for example in the PhD) in different settings such as critical thinking and resilience;
3- Capacity to translate science into different levels of technical language depending on the audience’s background

If you weren’t a life science investor what would you be?
A manager. I have been managing since the beginning of my first company and I have been doing it ever since in the field of life sciences. I think I would like to do it whatever the field or industry.

In your opinion, what is going to be the greatest breakthrough in science in the next 20 years?
I think we are living through an industrial revolution. I think artificial intelligence (AI) is already revolutionizing our lives and in the near future I think it is going to overcome diagnostics as we know them. Watson already performs imaging diagnosis better than doctors and it makes sense that people won’t need to go to the hospital to get a diagnosis. In fact, we don’t have an alternative! There’s going to be a time where hospitals won’t have space or time to diagnose every person with heart problems, for example. I believe AI in diagnostics is the future.

In the last 8 years, you have founded 3 companies, what advises can you give to young entrepreneurs? 
Well, I would not consider any of them a success [laughs]. First, Cell2B was founded during my PhD. The second one, BoostPharma, was a spinoff of the first one, so they were related. The third one is very recent so I cannot say much yet, but I started it because I still read the most important journals (Science, Nature,…) and I saw this amazing biology and contacted the PI.
My advice would be if you are young and that is your first experience don’t try to be the manager. Recruit. I am not saying that you should give titles to people when you don’t have to.  What I am saying is: recruit different people that are experienced in the different stages of a company, the same people that are good for the company, at the beginning, will not be as good 5 or 10 years later, because the needed skills are not the same. Also, give it your best shot and then try again!

David, in a very bad day, what is your getaway strategy?
Sea. I love sailing and the ocean calms me down.

Another amazing time spent with this incredible scientist, investor and entrepreneur...what can you say? Scientists can do wherever they want 😃 

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