“I realized this was an exceptional place to grow, due to the wonderful entrepreneurial community.”
Dr. Matthew (Matt) Gevaert is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of KIYATEC, Inc. Under Matt’s leadership and with the support of an incredible team, KIYATEC has earned national recognition for its progress toward accurately modeling and predicting cancer patient responses to drug therapies prior to treatment. Based on 3D cell culture technology, the company has pioneered a novel “in-hospital startup” model to solve intrinsically complex healthcare problems for the betterment of cancer patients, developing elegant solutions that will ultimately work both for the hospital “down the hall” as well as across the continent. Through a dedicated focus on direct relevance to cancer patients, KIYATEC has successfully attracted multiple rounds of private sector investment, and more than $5M of competitively awarded federal funding—including contracts from the National Cancer Institute, prestigious clinical collaborators at leading national cancer institutions and relationships with premier biopharmaceutical companies developing the cancer therapies of the future.
Matt is a graduate of the University of Waterloo (B.Sc., Chemistry) and of Clemson University (M.S. and Ph.D., Bioengineering). He serves on a number of professional and community boards and occasionally teaches an MBA graduate course in technology entrepreneurship for professional business students.
A WORD FROM A WORLD-CHANGER
Matt Gavaert, Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of KIYATEC, Inc.
1. Describe your business in a nutshell.
KIYATEC is solving an important problem: helping achieve better outcomes for cancer patients. It's not uncommon for a cancer patient to try a medication that ultimately doesn't work. We provide information that helps their oncologist and doctor better pinpoint the medication that will work.
2. How did you come up with your idea?
The decision to found KIYATEC was actually a pretty straightforward one for David and I [the two co-founders]. We had business and technology backgrounds, and we saw tremendous opportunity to do things differently—to create value [for patients], to be part of the good that could come from it. So although it is a risky thing to start a business, we did so with relative confidence—and that confidence has been proven out over time. Ultimately, our confidence was based on two things: what we brought to the table, and the environment that we were doing it in.
3. Why is Greenville the place you chose to create your business?
KIYATEC is atypical in that we're located inside the Cancer Institute at Prisma. Prisma welcomed us in, [where] we get to innovate alongside the doctors and the patients, and that's relatively unique. And then there's the Cancer Survivors park here, [which shows that] our community is not afraid to face the hard problems in a positive way. Both [of these things], plus the data, helped support the real company that we've birthed here.
I'm originally from Canada, and while at university there, I heard of Clemson's internationally-renowned biomedical engineering program. I came here because of that program, with the intention of being here for two years—and 25 years later, I'm still here. I realized this was an exceptional place for me to plant my roots and grow, due to the many wonderful things spanning the entrepreneurial community.
4. What separates Greenville from the other start-up cities?
Greenville has an entrepreneurial community that's very supportive and very collaborative. We believe that together we form a critical mass that makes each of us better. And that extends to attracting employees and having options outside of our company. We want people to go where it's best for them and thrive and succeed there, and my job is to create a company that's going to be that for them. We're all about the rising tide lifting all the boats, and I'm always asking, “how can we make that tide rise, together?”