houston innovators podcast episode 119
Silicon Valley transplant bets on Houston to lead synthetic biology
Veronica Wu isn't afraid of jumping head first into a new field or technology. In fact, the former Apple, Tesla, and Motorola executive has built her career around getting in on the ground floor.
"A lot of my career has been about looking for the next thing. One of the things I've found is I have a strong passion for building and scaling big ambitions or innovations," Wu says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "When I see the opportunity, it gets me really excited. One of the reasons I have a passion for technology is how it constantly changes and pushes the boundaries."
Wu's next big thing she's betting on? Synthetic biology — and she's doing it here in Houston. Wu recently relocated from Silicon Valley to Houston last year, and now she's launched First Bight Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on finding and investing in early-stage synbio companies.
The industry as a whole is still nascent, Wu explains, because most of these emerging innovations weren't able to be accomplished until recently. Additionally, a lot of people don't fully understand what the field encompasses, but she's hoping to shine a spotlight on the industry and the innovators in the space with First Bight Ventures.
"Think of synthetic biology as a cell programming, like we can program software in the virtual world," Wu explains on the show. "Now we're able to reprogram our physical world."
In Houston, Wu gives two examples of companies working in the synbio space: Cemvita Factory and Solugen. However, Houston is an ideal market for synthetic biology because of two of the city's top industries — health care and energy.
"Both of (these industries) have tremendous opportunities and challenges for us as humanity," Wu explains. She says that reprogramming biology can both help reduce carbon emissions and protect humans from emerging diseases.
"I see Houston — with its tremendous resources and talent already existing in these industries — really has that potential to leverage the technologies and become an innovation leader in this particular area," Wu says.
Wu shares more on her first impressions of Houston and what she hopes to accomplish with the new VC firm on the podcast. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.