THOMAS ANDERSON:
 




 
 
 
 
 
Senior Director, Automation Alley, and Director of the Automation Alley Technology Center. Anderson is responsible for the Alley’s technology business acceleration program and for stimulating entrepreneurship, from start-ups to small- to medium-sized companies. He also has program oversight for the Alley. A neuroscientist by training, Anderson’s career started with General Motors Corp. in 1979 as a research scientist in central nervous system injury. He stayed with General Motors for 20 years, eventually getting more involved with technology management and licensing. He later worked as a startup business consultant until joining the Alley in 2003.


WHERE BORN: “Evergreen Park, Ill.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSON: “My wife, Gretchen. She really was the one who encouraged me to take the risk of leaving this nice, stable, secure environment at General Motors R&D and step out on my own into a pretty risky environment, but which also allowed me to do things that had more reach to them, and combine my technical background and my business background into doing something significant.”

LAST BOOK READ:Developing Mind, by Dan Siegel. It’s a book about how the mind emerges from the brain based on our experience and interactions with other people.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Creative. Determined. Competitive.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “I think what we’re going to see emerging more and more, and I don’t know if you’re familiar with another book called The Medici Effect, that book describes how the Medicis were so successful in Italy during their reign – they were successful because of their location in this nexus of a lot of cultures and technologies that were different, and produced different ways of thinking. Innovation is when you get cross-fertilization between market types. I think what we’re going to see is more cross-fertilization between market verticals because innovation only needs to be unique to the industry to which it is applied. Something that’s proven and works in one field can be migrated to another whole market and be effective. One example of that is what Covisint is in the process of doing, taking the information sharing model they’ve built for the auto suppliers and applying it to the whole problem of health information sharing and interoperability between hospitals and clinics and insurers and patients.”

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: “I’m going to say it’s my automated espresso maker, where I can go from whole bean coffee to a cup of espresso in 30 seconds. It’s a lot of fun.”

FAVORITE PLACE: “That’s a tough one because it all depends on what I want to do. Italy is a real favorite. And New York City.”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “Cooking. We do a wide variety of stuff, ranging from making sushi to Italian to Thai. I just like to try different things. I’d probably throw beer making in there with cooking, because that’s fun too.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “Sushi”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “I play the trumpet.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “As having made a difference. I think I’ve done that in one sense, in the neuroscience sector, because the work I did at General Motors led to the creation of a society for neurotrauma, and we have our own journal now, and the injury models we built at GM are used now at a number of different institutions.”