Cathy Chen (center) with other attendees of the START summit in St. Gallen, Switzerland

Lives are lost as a result of inefficiencies in our current global tissue and organ donation systems. Blood, bone marrow, and organs are wasted due to ineffective collection and distribution in the value chain. In particular, data is siloed across countries, technological advancements are lacking, and countries are reluctant to collaborate due to security concerns. More importantly, universal access hasn’t been achieved for essential blood, bone marrow, and organs for patients.

Last year, I co-founded LifeBlocs, a social enterprise that aims to optimize the distribution of data for blood, bone marrow, and organ donation processes by utilizing a blockchain-based data system and matching algorithm. Our team developed a platform that seamlessly integrates data silos across countries and allows registries to communicate and better deploy life-saving donations where it’s needed.

This spring break, I represented LifeBlocs at the START Global Summit in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The Summit is Europe’s leading conference for entrepreneurship and technology for the social good. For two days, I found myself amongst 2500 leaders, visionaries, and young minds who challenge the world we live in through the ventures they manage.

Attending this conference wouldn’t have been as fruitful without the learnings I’ve gained, the experiences I’ve been exposed to, and the skills I’ve grown during my MA program. Jackson opens an unbelievable number of doors and opportunities for students to engage in topics and activities of their interest, on-campus and off-campus. At the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, I gained valuable insights from mentors who have extensive experience in the healthcare and startup industry. Furthermore, the Blockchain for Supply Chain Workshop Series organized by the Business and the Environment Club last semester provided me with the skills and knowledge to access how blockchain technology can be used to improve supply chain management.

Jackson supports opportunities outside of the classroom, and I have learned and gotten so much out of it. By attending START Global Summit, I built new and unexpected relationships with entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and ages. This trip has allowed me to bring awareness to crucial issues in our current tissue and organ donation system to individuals across the world. It allowed me to contribute to an environment of inspiration and idea sharing for a brighter, more innovative future.