Chen Levin: Making an early mark

At the age of 27, Chen Levin - one of the world's youngest female CEOs of a biotechnology company - doesn't believe in competition.

chen levin 88 298 (photo credit: )
chen levin 88 298
(photo credit: )
At the age of 27, Chen Levin - one of the world's youngest female CEOs of a biotechnology company - doesn't believe in competition. "I have always proven myself through diligence and hard work," says the young leader of BioMagnesium Systems Ltd, a medtech startup that is developing a biodegradable magnesium implant for internal fixation of broken bones and is part of the Meytav technological incubator company portfolio. Levin's motivation is inspiring and deep-rooted. Though Israeli-born, Levin grew up in Canada, but was determined to return to Israel for a one-year study abroad program at the Hebrew University at the age of 17. The teenager made the leap, deciding to study her entire undergraduate degree here, made aliya and has quickly become a leading woman in Israel's biotechnology industry. Ever since she was a student, Levin wanted to influence the biotechnology industry by examining the effectiveness of policy on the industry. While a student, she became a member of the Industrial Development Policy Group at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies where she studied how best to improve the biotechnology industry through policy. In her capacity as a research associate, Levin spent close to five years making the rounds to the biggest names in the industry soaking up as much as she could. The group came out with a report, "Industrial Clusters in Jerusalem," which contained policy recommendations including pushing for biotech companies to set up facilities in Jerusalem and establishing a biotech incubator in the city. Levin says the Monitor Report released in 2001 made similar recommendations. "It is so satisfying seeing your suggestions come into play five or six years down the road," Levin says, noting that her main efforts focused on creating a biotech incubator and fostering the creation of a biotech cluster - both in Jerusalem. Another high-point for Levin, seen as a token of all her hard work, was when the Knesset mandated that one of the biotech incubators be located in the capital. Also, she pushed to create the Jerusalem Biotech Initiative, established six months ago, where companies and organizations conglomerate to create a flow of networking and information. Levin's early efforts caught the attention of Morris Lester, CEO of BioLineRx, a biopharmaceutical drug development company, who accidentally met up with Levin while at a presentation of her research group's results to the Minister of Science. Levin was appointed as director of finance at BioLineRx, where she stayed for "an in-depth two-year experience" that included winning a $21 million bid from the Office of the Chief Scientist for the establishment of Israel's first biotech incubator. But Levin was "getting antsy" to make a change out of the drug development arena. Recognizing that her background lent more toward the medical devices industry, she sought opportunities there. Her intuition proved right: Meytav's CEO, Zvika Rubinstein, asked her to head BioMagnesium and the company launched in May 2006. BioMagnesium's flagship product, currently in pre-clinical trials, is a biodegradable fracture fixation implant to be implanted in place of steel plates. The product would biodegrade in the body, eliminating the need for a second surgery as is needed with steel plates. Levin aims to make BioMagnesium a large company and an entrepreneurial leader. "It's all hard work," she says, but adds that she's always up for it. "It's the type of person I am." As for her personal goals, Levin plans to stay put in the medical devices industry and put her best efforts wherever she ends up. "I'm at the age where taking risks is something I can do," she says. "And I enjoy it." CHEN LEVIN Born: Israel, moved to Montreal at age nine, back to Israel at age 17 Age: 27 Status: In a relationship Education: MBA, Hebrew University Professional milestones: * BioVision.Next Fellow: In 2005 Ms. Levin was awarded a fellowship to participate in BioVision.Next, The Future Biotech Policy Leadership conference, a program that brings together 100 top PhD and MBA graduates from all over the world every two years as a platform for science policy discussion * CEO BioMagnesium Systems Ltd,