Nicole Walker, Baird Capital

Triple threat: venture capitalist, executive, engineer

Affiliation: Baird Capital
Title: Principal

"I make a distinction between the practice of medicine and the delivery of care," Nicole Walker said at the MedtechWomen conference in September in Menlo Park, CA, outlining how she thinks about healthcare investments. "How do you deliver new tech or new services to multiple customers and delivery points? How do you bring to market a one-size-fits-all solution? And it's not, how do you really scale that in a way that, for me as an investor, it's attractive?"

Walker joined Baird Capital's Venture Capital team in September 2013. She currently sits on the boards of infusion pump company Palyon Medical, in vitro molecular diagnostic testing player NeuMoDx Molecular, and in vivo pharmacology and imaging startup Molecular Imaging.

She sees startups as key to moving the big med tech players forward. "It's less about disease management and more about a particular population and what is needed to treat it. How do you build systems to effectively manage those patients? It's Access, Cost and Outcome. You can't stand on that stool without all three legs being viable," Walker said.

"Within our industry it's been the small startups that have forced the large companies to change the landscape. If your device allows me to sell more stents or cardio devices, I take notice of that. The challenge for larger companies is to be aware and for smaller companies it's to continue to bring that innovation forward. In big companies, it gets lost in the minutia of driving toward quarterly return."

Walker should know. Prior to Baird, she was with Abbott Ventures, where she focused on blood glucose monitoring. Prior to that, she was with Onset Ventures, and she worked for Guidant in several roles including engineering management as well as product design and development. She has a BS in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a master's of engineering management from Northwestern University.

The firm also has U.S. Private Equity, U.K. Private Equity and China Growth Equity funds across healthcare and information technology. In 2013, Baird invested $130 million in 10 companies; the firm has raised a total of $3 billion. Last year, it returned about $71 million to investors.

Within healthcare, Baird Venture Capital's interests include provider solutions such as clinical solutions, marketing and communications, as well as revenue cycle management; payer solutions such as population health management, claims processing and analytics as well as risk management; healthcare products such as consumer diagnostics, vitamins and supplements as well as medical equipment and instruments; and life sciences products such as clinical research outsourcing, research tools and diagnostics as well as medical devices.

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-- Stacy Lawrence (email | Twitter)

Nicole Walker, Baird Capital