Singularity University Signs R&D Deal With Becton Dickinson


Singularity University announces this week that it has signed an R&D deal with medical technology firm Becton, Dickinson and Co. to collaborate on new digital health solutions. Under the new agreement, BD will work out of Singularity’s SU Labs on its campus in Silicon Valley, where BD associates will work with entrepreneurs and Singularity industry experts to help develop startups that it will then incubate within the BD organization. As an organization, BD operates three business units: BD Medical, BD Diagnostics, and BD Biosciences. BD Medical makes needles, catheters, and scalpels, which it sells directly to hospitals and clinics. BD Diagnostics manufactures a wide array of automated specimen collection and sample processing systems for reference laboratories and blood banks. BD Biosciences caters to research and clinical laboratories, as it manufactures equipment to analyze tissues down to the cellular level. In the announcement, Singularity notes that the first batch of BD associates to participate in the program will work on ideas that fall under the umbrella of digital health, before bringing the new technologies back to BD to be further developed within one of the companies’ existing verticals.

The arrangement is not a new one. Singularity has signed similar R&D deals with some other organizations that would seem to be an awkward fit in Silicon Valley. When the university launched its SU Labs, a think tank and innovation lab that plays matchmaker between startups and established corporations, the first three partnerships were with Coca Cola, Hershey, and Lowes. Hershey, for example, was primarily interested in using robotics and 3D printing to trim manufacturing costs. Also working out of SU labs is Bayer and Harman International Industries. Singularity CEO Rob Nail explains, “By combining a deep understanding of powerful tools like artificial intelligence, computing, genomics, robotics and design thinking, with deep innovation expertise and connections to corporations, governments, academia, nonprofits and investors, we provide partners such as BD an opportunity to do things differently, innovating like a startup outside of their own company’s walls to create transformative new business opportunities.” An eloquent way of describing what is likely the necessary revenue generating business side of Singularity University, which tends to focus a majority of its efforts on conferences that spin out philanthropic moonshot projects, but with limited revenue.

BD reports that it hopes to generate a number of startup opportunities each year within the lab as it works to integrate new technologies into its existing product lines.

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