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Karpman takes up residence in entrepreneur program


Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s new entrepreneur in residence, Robert Karpman, has been on the job only two weeks. But he’s already heard from several students, including one with ideas for engineering medical tissue and an architecture student wanting advice on equipment needed for the development of a mobile clinic.

An entrepreneur and orthopedic surgeon, Karpman has been teaching Business as a Second Language, a course that introduces business and managerial concepts to students in science, engineering and technology fields.

Karpman said it’s important for students working on biomedical and healthcare innovations to know how doctors and health care workers might use their products in the field. “My goal is to help fill that gap,” he said.

Karpman has worked in the health care arena for 34 years, first as an orthopedic surgeon and an entrepreneur developing medical devices. He also helped develop a new medical education program in Phoenix and the bioengineering department at Arizona State University. And he served as chief medical officer at two community hospitals, most recently in Cortland, New York.

He is founder and CEO of Geri-Safe, a startup company whose mission is to develop and license innovative technology to improve the safety and well being of elderly individuals.

“I’ve always had ideas about ways to fill a need or a gap,” Karpman said. “A lot of the rewards I’ve seen as an entrepreneur come from seeing patients get better care and residents and students have success in their careers.”

So sure is he of the residents he’s trained that he chose one of them for his own recent herniated disc surgery.

Joining Cornell as an adjunct professor last fall, Karpman said he wanted to offer a course for life science and engineering students who might have an idea for a biomedical device or other health care innovation but lack business skills.

“We discuss accounting, finance, marketing and business plan development, but also job hunting and networking skills,” he said. The class, BME 5950, is a half-semester long, with a new session starting this month.

The Entrepreneur in Residence Program, sponsored by Entrepreneurship at Cornell, brings entrepreneurs to campus to mentor and advise Cornell-connected startups and aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly those in the early stages of business development. Karpman is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for student meetings. Email Karpman to set up an appointment.

Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.

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Joe Schwartz