Zoe Quan, Ph.D.

Strategy & Bio / Life Science

Education: Ph.D. Biophysics and Theoretical Biology, University of Chicago; AB in Applied Mathematics, Harvard University  Experience: Fio Corporation (VP, Ops), Fujitsu Business Communication Systems (SVP, Biz Dev), Lucent Technologies, Bell Labs

Dr. Zoe Quan brings critical gap analysis to the Diamond Chameleon Group. Along with executive experience, Zoe brings an uncanny ability to boil down the noise, bring focus to the effort at hand, and foresee the gaps that need to be filled as growth continues. 

Dr. Quan’s industry experience  includes telecommunications, IT, and bio/nanotechnology. She has had extensive business experience in Asia, Europe, and North America, including expatriate assignments in Hong Kong, France, and Canada. She has held senior leadership positions with large multinationals as well as entrepreneurial ventures, and is skilled at all aspects of product management, including strategy, product development, business plan development and execution, and P&L responsibility. 

Dr. Quan served as Vice President, Operations for Fio Corporation, a nanobiotechnology start-up developing a point-of-care rapid diagnostics system. She led new products and business development as Senior Vice President of Fujitsu Business Communication Systems, a $150 million provider of enterprise network solutions. Zoe was also an executive with various communications infrastructure businesses at Lucent Technologies, in global product, market, and corporate development. She started her career in R&D with Bell Laboratories, co-authoring two telecommunications patents. 

As president of Qingchu Thinking, LLC, she translates between the languages of business and technology by combining strategy, international business, and assessing technologies for their growth potential. With her, companies identify the right problems to be solved, begin to see the patterns among seemingly unrelated pieces of information, translate vision into executable strategies, and put in place the processes and discipline to enable implementation.  She mentors companies out of the University of Chicago's Polsky Center for Entreprenuership and Innovation.

Her management approach is practical:  assess where an organization is, where it wants to be, and what it needs to do to get it there.  

  • Decide on business strategies and strategic alliances based on feasibility and implications
  • Execute proven market entry and growth strategies for science companies to grow revenue 
  • Smooth business operations by engineering appropriate processes to facilitate discipline
  • Focus on customer needs, especially before there are paying customers, so the technical development team can focus on the product features most critical to enter the customer’s application. 
  • Identify opportunities where R&D projects could be developed into commercial offerings.
  • Anticipate trends to reduce the likelihood of unexpected crises.

Dr. Quan holds an AB in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University and a PhD in Biophysics and Theoretical Biology from the University of Chicago. 

Speaker & Presentation Topics

Translating Between the Language of Business and the Language of Science

What is the Crying Need? Five Questions Every Start-up Needs to Ask

Translating Between the Language of Business and Science



Zoe Quan, Ph.D.



Length Options

30 / 45 min without questions

Appropriate Audience

University professors associated with the tech transfer office, Technical start-up companies, collaborative innovation centers

Talk Summary

  • Getting research out of the laboratory and into the marketplace is one of the major challenges of technology commercialization. Innovation is useful only to the extent it can be realized to address outstanding needs.

  • A critical component is learning to translate between the language of science and the language of business because the perspectives of industry are significantly different from those of academia. Thinking in terms of what one might do with a discovery, what problems it might solve, is not inherent to the attitudes of basic research; but doing so can facilitate enabling others to realize the commercial potential of the research, whether through licensing, in collaboration with industry, or in starting up a venture.

  • My talk will be from the perspective of industry. Questions to consider include determining the market opportunity, developing the product, protecting the intellectual property, understanding the legal and regulatory issues that must be addressed, building the right team, and positioning to raise funds to execute.

  • Also imperative is to cultivate a community to promote an environment more conducive to start‐ups. Particularly when starting out, before the ecosystem has developed a critical mass, finding ways to more easily connect ideas, people, and resources can help nurture nascent ventures. Time permitting, I will discuss aspects of this issue, as well.

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