Built By: Johannes Fruehauf

Johannes Fruehauf, MD, is the co-founder and president of LabCentral in Cambridge, Mass.; founder, president, and CEO of Biolabs and the Biolabs network; and co-founder and general partner at BioInnovation Capital. Here’s his story of immigrant entrepreneurship, woven in with quotes and excerpts from an article he wrote in June for STAT, a health care publication produced by Boston Globe Media.

In 2002, Johannes Fruehauf came to the United States from Germany with his wife, Dr. Eri Inoue-Fruehauf. They were both postdoctoral research fellows with two-year scholarships — hers was to study nutritional causes of cancer at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University; his was at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Program.

In 2006, Fruehauf became co-founder of a biotech startup, Cequent, and has since been founder or co-founder of several other startups in the biotechnology space. One of them, Biolabs provides space and services for innovators in Kendall Square and multiple cities around the country. In 2013, Peter Parker and Fruehauf opened LabCentral in Kendall Square, Cambridge, the hub of biotechnology research in the Northeast. Since then, their company has served more than 60 life sciences startups, 73 percent of which were founded or co-founded by immigrants. Between 2014 and 2016, their resident companies filed 261 US patents and raised more than $1 billion to advance their research and development programs.

“For generations, America has been the center of innovation, discovery, and entrepreneurship. It’s where you go to turn the germ of an idea into a viable, commercial product that creates jobs. That helps grow the economy and make America great. This is the storied America that drew me and, I suspect, many other immigrant entrepreneurs to its shores.”

In 2016, LabCentral startups raised more than $200 million in venture capital funding. If LabCentral was a region of the country, it would be third in bio-pharma investing, after Northern and Southern California. LabCentral’s entrepreneurs and innovative teams have created more than 700 new direct jobs.

Being an immigrant founder as well as working with immigrant founders, he believes immigrants have attributes that set them up as successful founders. Having been trained in Germany, France and Africa, he knows that they will bring diverse viewpoints and approaches to problem solving. In the life sciences industry, for example, immigrants have slightly different ways of studying science or problem solving. When they bring that to this country, it allows diverse teams to be more flexible in finding solutions.

“Immigrants are forced to start new in a way. You leave behind a lot of the baggage and expectations that come with having grown up in one area and building your career in that same country. You’re being forced to not build upon what your fathers and grandfathers did but rather build your own thing. That can be liberating in some areas as well because you’re free to create a new story line for yourself.”

The views represented here solely reflect the opinions of its author and not necessarily those of LabCentral or any other organization with whom he is associated.

Written by: Galen Moore

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