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Inspirational Women Spotlight: Dr Diana Röttger

Dr Diana Röttger is a Principal at APEX Ventures where she co-leads the investment activities of the medical portfolio. Diana’s investment focus, among others, is medical technologies and techbio. Before joining APEX Ventures, Diana was as Chief Scientific Alliance Officer for 8 years at Image Analysis Group, a scale-up AI&ML radiology company serving the biopharma sector in drug development. Diana holds a PhD in Medical Computer Science focusing on AI in radiology and neuroimaging. During her career Diana worked in Finland, France and the US where she was a Research Observer at Harvard Medical School. For the last 11 years she has been based in London.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I had some coup de foudre when I attended my first lecture on medical computer science at a university open day. I was fascinated by what technology can do for medicine and knew I wanted to be a part of it in the long run. I studied medical computer science in Germany, followed by a PhD in which I focused on MRI scans of the brain. I wrote software that analysed images of the brain to support neuroscientists and neurosurgeons to understand the brain better and plan the removal of brain tumours. After my time at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, I understood that I wanted to bring a commercially viable product to patients. I wanted to learn how to develop a product, make customers happy, bring it to the market and make money. I moved to London and joined a radiology AI startup. I loved working with an interdisciplinary team of radiologists, software developers, oncologists and drug developers. After 8 years of developing and scaling the business, I wanted to work with tech startups again and support them with everything I have learned on my journey. In February 2021, I became a Principal at APEX Ventures, a deep-tech-focused venture capital firm where my focus is on medical technologies and techbio.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

I am not a company founder, but I have extended the product offering of the company I worked at into oncology and neuro-oncology. During my PhD, I met many neurosurgeons and radiologists, and I felt software could massively improve their work. In drug development and clinical trials, I saw the same thing happening: why not quantify the progression of a tumour automatically with a computer program rather than manually and qualitatively?

What are the key successes?

In my portfolio companies, I witness everyday scientific successes in the form of achieved technical milestones or awarded grants, but they must come together with developing MVPs and early market fit validations. Aligning scientific breakthroughs with market needs is crucial for long-term success.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

Especially for scientific companies, as in deep tech, it comes easy to rely on grant funding and one of the pilot or research projects that keeps you surviving. But founders need to be business savvy, gain early customer feedback, and respond quickly to market needs to be on a path of recurring revenue.

What are your plans now/for the future?

As I am now in VC, I am working closely with my portfolio companies, helping them with my learnings and supporting them with my best abilities to be successful.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

 Once you reach a level of depth and understanding, you become fascinated by the potential of tech, but you also see the barriers to its adoption. This is when you must persevere and push forward.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

In deep tech and especially for scientists like me entering the business world in a small company, it’s important that the founding team has exceptional technical expertise, business development, and market understanding. I see this in my portfolio companies now; the best-performing companies have diverse founding teams.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

Marie Curie, since I was 16 years old, has had a love for science, understanding the world and helping others. I am reading about her to my two daughters a lot.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes? Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?  


Website: https://www.apex.ventures/