Biodesign Innovation Fellowship Graduation Address, 2012
given June 12, 2012 by Dan Azagury, representing the 2012 graduating fellows
Dear faculty, mentors, sponsors and staff, family and friends
Thank you giving me the opportunity to speak today. “You’ll have to excuse me if I’m a little nervous, our faculty has always told us that the minute we are no longer Biodesign fellows you will all start charging your regular fees. So I’m hoping it hasn’t kicked in yet because I won’t be able to afford the next 3 minutes. So for the record, this is off the clock.”
But seriously, on behalf of the fellows, I would like to thank each and every one of you for having made this year possible. Because each one of you has been actively involved in our fellowship. And seeing the attendance, we realize that a 300 to 10 teacher / student ratio is not sustainable, even for Stanford. Which means most of you volunteered your time, allowing us to draw from your knowledge, experience and know how, and learn about medtech innovation from the very best. Thank you.
Preparing this speech, I tried to identify what this program had brought to each of us. What is the common factor we all extracted from this year, the shared output and collective impact it had on us.
Interestingly I believe the answer is there is none. There is no single output for all of us. There is no smallest common denominator. This program brought each of us what it thrives to be: something unique.
And this program is unique in so many ways.
Unique by it’s faculty: you are all so different. Yet instead of reducing your teaching to your similarities you give us all of your different visions. You build on your differences to give us the broadest possible perspective. Having the opportunity to be taught by one of you for a week would be fantastic. Actually being taught by all of you for a year was the experience of a lifetime.
The program is also unique by what it teaches: How can you teach innovation? how do you foster creativity without limiting it? Biodesign does. This is the challenge it masters year after year: they don’t teach a program, they rebuild something new, something unique. Each year they choose fellows with distinct facets, they teach us and guide us but let the content expand and shape differently as we go. Each year it innovates within itself first, continuously expanding its own boundaries.
Thirdly and so importantly, it’s unique by its fellows. And talking of boundaries, it’s not just about the US fellows. Oh ok, they are pretty brilliant bunch, amazingly dedicated, creative and incredibly competent: mechanical engineers, surgeons, electrical engineers, gastroenterologists, mba’s. There isn’t a single angle that wasn’t cover when you chose us... I mean you even hired a Swiss guy for the sole purpose of providing chocolate during long brainstorming sessions... But the global fellows... you should see them at work... they turn innovation into a form of art, you guys are inspiring.
And finally this program couldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t held together by its wonderful staff: coming to work every morning is a real treat thanks to all of you!
And all of these things are why this program has such an incredible significance for us. It steered our lives and careers as dramatically as differently for each one of us. Never restraining us and allowing us to learn so much. And although we don’t have the same goals and futures, we shared the same passion and now we share the same formidable past this year of Biodesign has been.
So thank you for believing in our dreams and giving to tools to turn them into our future.
Thank you very much.