Widecells Group Plc (LON:WDC) Chief Executive Officer João Andrade and Vice President of Wide Academy Alan Greenberg caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the WideAcademy strategy, background of WideAcademy’s VP Alan Greenberg and where the company will be in 12-18 months
Q1: Now, there’s been great success with CellPlan recently in expanding its global reach but in what manner is the success of Widecells predicted on that of WideAcademy and vice versa?
A1: Well, the success for Widecells, not only Widecells but if you look at everyone involved in the industry, are thinking about the patients first. Ultimately, there’s a lack of information today about the benefits of stem cell technology and the mandate that Alan has at WideAcademy is really to educate the world. That’s important to Widecells because if medical professionals understand the benefits of a family storing, for example, their umbilical cord blood stem cells to protect them in the future and when they need to use it, if they know all the medical teams involved, where the treatments centres are and how is the process of accessing their treatment or even transporting a sample from point A to point B. If there’s enough information so that people can make an informed decision, we believe that more people can benefit the technology and it’s a win/win situation for everyone involved.
Q2: So, Alan, in layman’s terms, what is the mandate for WideAcademy?
A2: The brief I’ve been given from João and the directors is to build trusted and authentic set of content that people can come to and rely on and actually access intuitively, easily and make it available to them on any device. The long and short of it is if you want to do research, if you want to look onto the web and find out what stem cell innovation is or is not, there’s a lot of stuff which is perhaps not as good a content as it needs to be, there’s very good research but who wants to read the research paper. So, part of our responsibility is disseminating that research content into consumable media that people can look at and consider, we’re also building a podcast series so that podcast series will be audio content and interweaved with thought leaders part of the community that are building up WideAcademy and really helping to make that content available on a global basis, initially in the English language but in multiple languages at a time.
Q3: So, how do medical professionals and families access information on cutting-edge stem cell technology currently?
A3: I’ll give you an example of what we’re going to do as I would argue that I’m not sure the information is out there today, I think the opportunity is almost like a sheet of paper. Our ability to reach out into the medical world, and by that I mean if you consider every existing GP, not just in the United Kingdom but globally, probably was not educated or had any great insight when he was taught in university or medical school on stem cells. We need to support that particular channel to market and help GP’s and doctors understand what that innovation is all about, equally we will work with medical schools and universities looking at the next generation of doctors/nurses/midwives and supporting with courseware the opportunity to support that education and journey. So, literally providing a trusted resource for education content for this sector in a way that, probably, has not been done previously. The other thing that’s interesting, and we’ve got some technology people and some research people looking at this problem, they found out recently that the budget of circa £2,000 a year that every doctor has in the country for continued professional development for lifelong learning, we want to tap into that budget. We want to be part of that trusted resource to support doctors in that learning journey, I’ll repeat again, not just in the United Kingdom but on a global basis.
Our second, we’re equally looking into enterprise so I would argue that CellPlan is a very important product in the market place, it will be sold by insurance brokers, again on a global basis, we want to provide education resources, trusted resources for those brokers so that when they speak to their end-user, their customers, and then they approach the CellPlan product in the market place, they have some deep authentic content to refer to and some references that they can speak with some authority.
The third cohort, which is obvious, is the consumers themselves and provide that trust of channel for content available to the individual, to families, to be able to access that content, e Equally, perhaps, to the older generation because we know that the market for maybe parents or grandparents providing this stem cell opportunity to their children or grandchildren.
So, it’s a broad remit on a global basis with easily accessible, intuitive content.
Q4: Alan, you were brought on board to do just that, how do you intend to leverage this to increase awareness of stem cells? Can you also give us a little bit more information on your background?
A4: How much time do I have? Have you got a couple of hours? I’m happy to give you further detail, assuming you’d want a shorter version.
In a brief synopsis, I was Apple’s Education Director between 2004-2010, my team with Apple built products like podcasting, I recently met with some colleagues there that I worked with in London and found out that the work that my team started in London has now over 10 billion downloads. I had to look up Wikipedia to work out that it’s 10 plus 9 zeros, I actually didn’t know how many zeros there were so I had a little bit of impact in terms of dissemination and distribution of digital content. I then worked on something called iTunes U where Apple provides universities with a portal to publish their education content, I also worked on the App Store and some of the early generation of education healthcare apps.
After leaving Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), I started working with Venture Capital and young innovative education healthcare start-up’s so I have a little bit of experience in terms of building these sorts of technology capabilities and building engagement which is fairly deep and fairly broad and international.
Q5: So, who have you got working with you on all of this?
A5: I was asked this earlier, I don’t like talking about people because their egos will get too big but I managed to secure a long-time friend who was originally the Editor of Guardian Education online, he then went to The Independent, he worked also for Tony Blair’s 10 Downing Street building authorities of engagement at 10 Downing Street, he then went on to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and built digital diplomacy. He is a master of digital content and the distribution channels, we’ve collaborated for over 12 years, I’m lucky to have Jimmy Leach on board helping and supporting me with the education side of things.
We’ve also brought in a VP of Enterprise, again common experience in financial services and actually in training up of insurance brokers, that young lady is coming on board to build the enterprise division, again working across the portfolio content and distribution channels we’re looking at.
Q6: Where do you see WideAcademy in the next 6-12 months and perhaps the next 12-18 months?
A6: One word, global. We will deliver the content initially, again to be clear, I don’t want to talk too much in detail today about what we’re delivering but it will be fundamentally in English language first, so you could sort of say the greatest network of web environments but we’re already looking at building out international languages, we’re looking into Spanish and Portuguese, we recognise South America as a huge opportunity for the company in general, we’re also already looking into Chinese language and Asian areas as well. So, we will be a global distribution company within months, certainly within the next 12-18 months.