Hakim Yadi

BioLeader Interview – Hakim Yadi, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Closed Loop Medicine (September 2022)

Hakim Yadi

Hakim is a Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Closed Loop Medicine (CLM). CLM is a healthcare technology company developing drug + digital combination products, transforming drug effectiveness through optimisation by providing every drug its real time digital companion.

Hakim joined Closed Loop Medicine from the Northern Health Science Alliance Ltd, the pan-Northern health partnership which brought together for the first time 20 research-based NHS hospitals, the North’s Academic Health Science Networks and Universities to collaborate on improving health outcomes across the North.

Hakim started his career at IMS Health before joining PA Consulting, where he co-managed the company’s translational medicine team. During his time at PA, he was seconded to the UK Government where he worked as the Chief Operations Officer and was a founding member of the UK Department of International Trade (DIT) Life Sciences Organisation (LSO). In this role, he helped to oversee the DIT’s global life science inward investment strategy.

He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and in 2017 he was awarded an OBE for services to Healthcare Technology and the Economy.

Key milestones in your career journey to date?

  • My career has been a combination of work hard / play hard and a series of serendipitous events; where I have had the opportunity to capitalise on a situation by being in the right place at the right time and a leap of faith on my part!
  • I knew from a very young age that I wanted to learn about the natural world; David Attenborough was my inspiration and I have been fortunate to meet him and tell him that, I was completely star struck.
  • I secured the perfect industrial placement whilst at Bath University, working with Celltech/UCB on cellular systems that provided my zest for research.
  • This led to my PhD at BBSRC Babraham in Cambridge and enabled me to tap into the evolving Cambridge eco system and connect with influencers like George Freeman, Andy Richards and many others.
  • My consulting skills were honed at PA Consulting, where for 3 years I focused on translational medicine, across private and public sectors. This involved supporting entrepreneurs, academics, hospitals, universities, and investors develop commercially sustainable and financeable new ventures. And constructing innovative models to deliver biomedical research with the public sector, creating an insight to how government policy works.
  • This placed me in the position to be the founding CEO of the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), a position I was offered and jumped at and spent six amazing years building between 2013 to 2019 alongside an incredible community of academics and clinicians in the North of England; a dynamic partnership of the world-leading health research institutions in the North of England.
  • My leap to Closed Loop Medicine (CLM) in 2019 involved leaving the very successful and secure NHSA for a new, untried, investor backed business; which aims to develop a single prescription drug plus digital therapy (DTx) combination products to optimise dosing on an individual level with linked behaviour therapy to improve patient outcomes.
  • Founded by a team of healthcare professionals, entrepreneurs and life scientists with experience of both drug and software development, we are working closely with regulators to create new pathways for the next generation of therapeutics – dose optimised combination products.

Who has had the greatest influence over your career?

  • The initial credit must go to my parents who were always so supportive of me and my siblings; and encouraged us to follow our passion.
  • Since then there have been so many supportive influencers who recognised my potential and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone.
  • In particular I would like to mention George Freeman; working with his life science business consultancy, 4D Biomedical; advising clients on business strategy, market due diligence and competition analysis.
  • Professor Ian Jacobs, whose influence as a gynaecological oncologist is recognised globally; and was one of the inspirations for the NHSA when he was dean of medicine and vice president of the University of Manchester.
  • Andy Richards, his vision for and belief in CLM; and encouraging investors to get involved.

Your approach to spotting and developing high performing teams?

  • Attract those whose passion takes them above and beyond their role; who say yes to a new opportunity and then work out how to deliver it.
  • Those who thrive in non-hierarchical environments and are attracted to novel projects; fearless in the creation of new roadmaps.
  • Challenge the status quo; to create that next generation of therapies or highlight the value of a different region and cluster.

What top three attributes make an outstanding leader in today’s world?

  • The ability to bring together high performing teams, clarify the vision and then let them get on with it.
  • Encourage continual refinement, review and respect for that vision; ensuring the balance between how it has been done and what is relevant going forwards.
  • Create a supportive environment which recognises all projects are an innovative experiment and it’s OK to fail.

How do you create a culture of continual learning, innovation and curiosity?

  • Making innovation a core value encourages new ideas.
  • If the culture is inclusive, open, non-hierarchical and embraces innovation, the organisation will always move forwards with a broad skill set that embraces novel science.
  • Learning must be at the centre, particularly before the company has a sustainable future and revenue.

Tell me something about your company that you would like to share with the PIR community?

  • CLM’s continual collaboration across software, hardware, therapeutics and AI stakeholders will create new business models, encouraging more integrated and personalised outcomes. I would encourage anyone to get in contact if they see opportunities and synergies, healthcare is too knotty a problem for any one company to solve.

How has your company created a more diverse culture in the last 2 years; and what do future challenges look like?

  • Appointing a senior hire to challenge diversity of thought and training when hiring; which will lead to a more balanced portfolio of colleagues.
  • Work out what hybrid working looks like; there is a level of efficiency achieved by being together, whilst recognising that home working creates attractive work/life balance and enables the hiring of key talent across the UK and beyond.

What will be the biggest technological transformation in your sector over the next 5 years?

  • Working out how to keep up with technological innovation from a regulatory and policy perspective would lead to huge gains.
  • The future is here but not evenly distributed, we need to provide fast ways to approve access to it.

What advice would you give the next Minister for Science, Research & Innovation given the stated intention by the Conservative Government to grow these sectors by 1000% by 2031?

  • Help those clusters outside of the golden triangle to level up economic and health values; how can you aspire to something if you can’t see it.
  • Make it as easy to start, fund and populate a company for example in a northern region as it is in the south-east.
  • Encourage high risk work in a low-risk environment; you should not have to relocate if a venture fails.
  • The new Minister should be encouraged to get cross party commitment to current and future policies to de-politicise and de-risk when a government changes.

What is your hidden talent or something that might surprise others about you?

  • My love of sailing encouraged collaboration and teamwork from an early age.

What advice would you give your 23-year old self?

  • Always say yes and then work out how you are going to do it later.

Words of wisdom?

  • Best Advice I was given: Craft and draft over a glass of wine and then edit in the morning with coffee!
  • Advice I’d give: Tell the world where you are trying to get to so you secure help along the way.
  • What I wish I’d known: It’s easy to join the dots looking backwards; have that leap of faith.

Click here to read more of our BioLeaders interviews.