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Harsimran Kalsi

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Otto Sciences

Location: Waukesha County, WI
Founded: 2018
Industry: Tech and Deep Tech (Biotech, Medtech, SpaceTech)

Otto Sciences’ mission is nothing less than to accelerate medical breakthroughs and the pace of science to cure diseases. And the impetus for that ambitious goal comes from the company’s co-founder and CEO, Harsimran Kalsi.

Kalsi described shadowing an emergency physician at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The patients that night included a 4-year-old boy who fell to the pavement from a second-floor balcony and an unconscious child who had suffered three seizures in a week. The sounds of their suffering and fearful looks from their parents have stuck with Kalsi. “A large portion of the spectrum of human suffering can be unveiled in emergency care, and cases like these helped cement my aspirations to accelerate the pace of translational medicine,” he said.

Kalsi notes that, on average, it takes 17 years for data from a lab to translate into clinical therapies used at a patient’s bedside. The pace — especially when lives are on the line — is too slow, he said. Otto Sciences is a startup focused on developing tech-enabled solutions across the life science and space sectors to cut down that lengthy process.

“Good science must move faster, and we envision a world where therapies for the most devastating diseases become available exponentially faster,” the company said. “Otto combines both software and non-software modalities to accelerate the pace of innovation in service of a brighter future.”

Kalsi is a Lt. Gen. James Abrahamson Fellow at NASA’s International Space Station National Lab and a medical student at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Together, Kalsi and his co-founder brother, Satvir, have grown Otto from an idea to a revenue-generating business that works with NASA, Redwire, RPRD, the Milwaukee Institute of Drug Discovery, Concordia University and others.

Through Kalsi’s leadership, Otto grew its supply-side capacity from $4,000 to over $3.7 million in just one year and became the only marketplace on the planet that allows you to run R&D or marketing endeavors in space.

Kalsi said he turned down six-figure salaries, even though he owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, in order to run Otto. That’s how much he believes in the mission.

“The reality is, in the near future, the best science and technology will literally be at people’s fingertips. The ability to design and order an experiment that’s conducted in low-earth orbit or at an automated lab across the country will be as easy as ordering a curbside meal from your favorite restaurant. Collaborating on curing a disease may be a few clicks away. The technologies and innovations we discover today will pave the way to the future we thrive in tomorrow.”

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Honoree Fun fact

I’ve recently taken up kickboxing again! I used to do MMA when I was younger and more recently I’ve been getting back into it and it’s been a ton of fun.

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