Press Release

Intel, Safeway luminaries to address how tech can lower health costs

| 09 November 2009

Can technological innovation rein in our nation’s escalating health care costs? On Wednesday, Nov. 18, luminaries including Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel Corp., and Steve Burd, CEO of Safeway, will take up this question at the second annual A. Richard Newton Global Technology Leaders Conference, "Translating Technology into Cost-Effective Health Care."

Hosted by the University of California, Berkeley’s College of Engineering in partnership with the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), the conference will bring together entrepreneurs and researchers to discuss cost-effective health care innovations and the emerging technologies that drive them, and to identify pathways toward new business creation, public policymaking and marketplace adoption.

The day-long conference, at the Rutter Center at UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus, is sponsored in part by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, an initiative co-founded by the foundation to promote entrepreneurship among millions of young people around the world. Global Entrepreneurship Week will be held Nov. 16-22 this year.

In most industries, technological innovation leads to productivity gains. Health care has been a glaring exception. Health care economists have attributed at least 50 percent of the nation’s dramatic annual rise in health care costs to new or expanded medical technologies.

“We think better technology doesn’t have to mean higher health care costs,” said Ikhlaq Sidhu, director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology and a key organizer of the conference. “In fact, we see tremendous potential for technologies that reduce health spending by detecting serious disease early, streamlining drug discovery, eliminating unproductive medical interventions and allowing people with chronic disease to manage their care at home.”

Sessions will focus on low-cost products and services that could reduce hospital stays and give patients greater control over their own health. Insights from this event will be useful to health care industry innovators as well as policy makers.

“We will have an extraordinary brain trust at this conference to discuss one of our nation’s most critical issues today: escalating health care costs,” said Lesa Mitchell, vice president of Advancing Innovation at the Kauffman Foundation. “We will not see a reduction in costs without new models for cost-effectively advancing medical innovations to the market.”

Both Grove and Burd have attracted national attention for their viewpoints on balancing the benefits of medical technology advances with their costs. Other industry leaders scheduled to speak at the conference include Alex Bangs, co-founder and chief technology officer of Entelos Inc.; Eric Horvitz, principal researcher at Microsoft Corp.; Kaveh Safavi, global lead for health care practice at Cisco Systems Inc.; Mickey Urdea, co-founder and CEO of Tethys Bioscience Inc.; and Noam Ziv, vice president of engineering in Corporate Research & Development at Qualcomm Inc.

Academic and government researchers taking part in the conference will include Christopher Austin, director of the Chemical Genomics Center at the National Institutes of Health; Regis Kelly, QB3 director; Shankar Sastry, dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering; and Matthew Tirrell, chair of UC Berkeley’s bioengineering department. A full list of speakers is available online.

"Biomedical research has always focused on improving healthcare, and it has been fantastically successful in that effort, but without considering the cost," said Kelly of QB3. "We know that our researchers can solve tough challenges. Now, it's time to focus on making healthcare accessible and sustainable by lowering the cost of care."

Note: The Nov. 18 conference will be Webcast. Go to the conference homepage to access the Webcast.