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Hartsville, S.C., man blogs about life, science

By Sam Boykin
Correspondent
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After earning a Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from the Washington University School of Medicine, Josh Witten of Hartsville, S.C., started The Finch + Pea ( www.thefinchandpea.com).

It provides a forum for bloggers to write about all aspects of their lives from a scientific perspective.

As an offshoot of this, Witten founded The Finch & Pea Group last year, a consulting company that helps venture capitalists understand life-sciences research investment opportunities. He also writes and edits for several technical publications. Follow Witten on Twitter at @joshwitten or @finchandpea.

Q: What prompted you to start The Finch + Pea?

The philosophy behind the blog is for people to write about their various interests. Because we’re all science nerds, it always comes back to that. There are about eight semi-regular contributors who write about everything from art, music, poetry and nature.

I write about everyday stuff, like parenting issues and having to watch “Cinderella” dozens of times with my daughter.

But it’s all done from a scientific mindset. Science is everywhere; it’s the best way to understand how the world works and functions.

Q: And from this came your consulting company?

I live in Hartsville, where there’s not a lot of academic research for me to do. So I started The Finch & Pea Group to bridge communications between scientists and venture capitalists. They often don’t speak the same language.

Both fields generally have a lot of smart, knowledgeable people, but they usually don’t know what the other one is talking about. I focus mostly on small research-and-development firms and university spinoff companies looking for help with things like IT and sales.

Q: What are the biggest venture capital opportunities in life sciences?

One of the biggest potential areas is going to be in agriculture and how to create healthier food.

Another opportunity is how to produce and distribute antibiotic vaccinations for new strains of the flu.

A third area is how to better store and use computer data.

The trouble is, there are a lot of regulatory hurdles in all these areas – which leads to large companies dominating the field. But there’s still some opportunity for companies like mine because smaller companies and projects are usually underserved.

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