Episode 30 – The Other Triple Helix: Entrepreneurship, science and theology with John Bloomer

Jan 25, 2024

In this episode, we discuss a different lens through which to look at entrepreneurship with John Bloomer. John has taken a journey from chemistry to agricultural seed technologies through advisory and board roles to his newly found vocation within the Church of England. John started his career at ICI and through a period of active mergers and acquisitions through the 1980s and 1990s, arrived at Syngenta, establishing the wheat and barley breeding business and migrating into an intrapreneur role with that organisation, before heading into independent consulting. His current business activities, alongside being a priest and chaplain, include advisory work with a range of agritech companies, Non-Executive Director with Elsoms Seeds, and co-founding TraitSeq as a spin-out from the Earlham Institute.

We explore his twin journeys through technology transfer and theology, and reflect on the Doctrine of Participation that John wrote about in Faith in Business Quarterly. We explore how his faith, science and technology commercialisation sit alongside each other and some unusual moments of transition (where John started pitching God alongside pitching business ideas!) and his reflections from his theological studies and training at Westcott House at Cambridge. John discusses how he sees strong compatibility between his theological and scientific training, framing these in terms of the why and how of the world around us.

The Doctrine of Participation connects to entrepreneurship and technology transfer through five features. We explore how the infinite of theology and the typically finite value that technology transfer activities merge to create new opportunities. These, and the overarching doctrine (which is a theological perspective or framework) reveal some interesting perspectives on how entrepreneurs and technology transfer activities are creative as part of the broader world, be it economic, social and / or theological. John highlights the need for relationships (over transactions, a concept the podcast explored with David Mitchell) and how relationships drive building the networks that underpin successful technology transfer, built on humility, selflessness, curiosity, perseverance and an unconventional mindset.

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