Lee Jones Selected University of Minnesota Entrepreneur of the Year
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
The University of Minnesota annually recognizes one alumnus as its Entrepreneur of the Year - selecting an active leader in the entrepreneurial community who has founded and continues to lead their enduring organization, who gives back to the University and community and who serves as a role model for students and fellow alumni.
Lee Jones has been selected as the 2020 University of Minnesota Entrepreneur of the Year to recognize her entrepreneurial success and her significant contributions to the University and broader business community.
Her entrepreneurial journey began when Lee left Medtronic to lead the turnaround of Inlet Medical, a medical devices firm that specializes in minimally invasive surgery. The firm had two employees and no funding, but she led the fundraising for $6 million while increasing revenue by more than 50% annually for a decade. Inlet Medical was acquired by Cooper Surgical in 2006.
Then in 2011, Lee co-founded and served as CEO of Rebiotix, a biotech company that develops and plans to commercialize a proprietary drug platform that delivers healthy, live, human-derived microbes into the gastrointestinal tract. In 2018, Rebiotix was acquired by Swiss drugmaker, Ferring Pharmaceuticals. Lee continues to lead the company as it develops a global platform for this emerging drug therapy.
“Lee is literally creating a new industry,” noted fellow Sofia Angel Fund investor Lisa Crump. “The company she founded and continues to lead has the potential for global impact through the emergence of human microbiomes as a drug therapy. Not enough people in Minnesota realize it, but Lee is kind of a big deal.”
“You would be hard pressed to find anyone that has been more involved in supporting the entrepreneurial community at the University of Minnesota. Lee is the consummate role model for our students and alumni,” noted John Stavig, director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. “While building two highly successful health care companies, she has continuously given back by inspiring and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
Through her support in various University programs such as volunteering as an original MN Cup mentor, supporting the development of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, serving as Chief Administrative Officer for the Schulze Diabetes Institute, advising the Technology Commercialization Office, and speaking regularly and mentoring students, Lee has generously given her time to lead the entrepreneurial community in the Twin Cities.
“I’m very proud to be granted this honor by the University,” noted Jones. “I believe that the University is a cornerstone of innovation for our state. I am always amazed at the value it provides through its various programs and I look forward to continuing to be actively involved in supporting its mission in the future.”
The University looks forward to presenting this award in person, and celebrating with Lee and her family as soon as practical. As a dual degree holder from the University of Minnesota in both Chemical Engineering and Executive Management, Lee joins a prestigious roster of recipients over the past 15 years:
University of Minnesota - Entrepreneurs of the Year
2006 Gary Holmes, CSM Corporation
2007 Robert Stephens, Geek Squad
2008 Tim & Valerie Doherty, Doherty Employment
2009 Joel Ronning, Digital River
2010 Steve Flagg, Quality Bicycle Products
2011 Monica Nassif, Caldrea
2012 Bob Coughlin, Cross Telecom
2013 Greg Frankenfield, Magenic
2014 Steve Eilertson, Grain Millers
2015 Joel Schleicher, Presidio
2016 Nazie Eftekhari, HealthEZ
2017 Marcia Page, Varde Partners
2018 David Meyer, Titan Machinery
2019 Larry & Caryl Abdo, Abdo Market House
2020 Lee Jones, Rebiotix