What 3 Start-Ups Say About the Future of Jobs and Technology


The second and final panel discussion at The Atlantic's "Building the Economy & Jobs of the Future" Event includes Holden Thorp, Chancellor of UNC Chapel Hill, Safi Bahcall, CEO of Synta Pharmaceuticals, Paul Freedman, CEO of Altius Education, and Shazi Visram, CEO of Happy Baby, a baby food firm. Atlantic senior editor Alexis Madrigal moderates. We're live-blogging the event. Entries listed in reverse chronological order.

11:30 How do you get from research to development? It's the "Valley of Death," says Bahcall. He praises the new director of NIH who has started a new program to help scientists get funding to commercialize their products.

And how does an innovator get big? The panel's entrepreneurs focus on jobs. Freedman softly hits Facebook, a company with $75 billion in market cap but only 1800 employees. Visram encourages new executives to make it easier for moms to work for them by inviting them to bring their babies and work with their kid's schedule.

11:25: Thorp calls for reform for our visa and immigration laws. We have the greatest education system in the world and then we're not allowing some of our students to stay in the United States, he says. We should give a green card to everybody who gets a doctorate or professional degree. That's the best way to attract the world's best students.

11:20: What can we do to help our innovators? Reform patent laws and drug regulation is one. The real cost of developing a new drug is $4 million, says Safi Bahcall, who asks the government to make it easier for drugs to get online. Increase financing to small businesses, is two. "It would be so phenomenal if I didn't have to spend a third of my time trying to get private investment," says Visram.

11:15: Altius is trying to bridge the gap between high school and secondary education. One thing we're doing well, says CEO Paul Freedman, is getting more kids to want to go to college, but they're not finishing. So Altius created an online community college system that also serves as a trampoline, encouraging its students to bounce their education to four-year universities.

11:05: What are the sectors of the economy that will create jobs in 20 years? UNC Chancellor Thorp first names education as a driver of innovation. He predicts that life sciences, energy and the tech sector will continue to lead the economy.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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