The Pitch Competition will feature six teams selected from teams that completed the Building a Biotech Venture program. They will present in front of expert judges for a chance to receive one of two research grants, $25,000 or $10,000. (Image from Getty Images.)
A platform that can help prevent cancer relapse. A gene therapy that has the potential to reprogram toxic brain cells. A pipeline for developing rare disease therapeutics.
These are just a few of the regenerative and precision medicine advancements that trainees — post-graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and research and scientific associates — at the University of Toronto (U of T) and its affiliated hospitals are developing. And on May 30, six trainee-led teams will pitch their ideas in front of expert judges for the chance to receive one of two research funding grants, valued at $25,000 and $10,000.
“We are committed to empowering the next generation of entrepreneurial researchers to start thinking early on about how their discoveries can become products and ventures that will benefit human health,” says Allison Brown, who is the director of strategy & translation at Medicine by Design. “The Pitch Competition is not only a way for teams to refine their initial business case and receive feedback from seasoned entrepreneurs and industry leaders, but it is also providing some seed funding for two of the ventures with the highest potential to become companies.”
The Pitch Competition is the culmination of the Building a Biotech Venture program, a collaboration between Medicine by Design, an initiative that drives regenerative medicine research at U of T and its affiliated hospitals toward clinical impact; the Precision Medicine Initiative (PRiME), a U of T initiative that aligns research efforts in the area of precision medicine; the Health Innovation Hub (H2i), a campus-linked accelerator at U of T’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine; and Talk Boutique, a full-service speaker representation and coaching company.
This is the second year of the program. This year, the program expanded with PRiME joining as a partner; enhanced educational and supportive programming; and more research funding dollars available at the Pitch Competition.
“Thanks to the joint efforts of the program partners, over the past six months participants have attended a series of workshops and have received mentorship and coaching,” says Mark Pereira, PRiME’s director of strategy & partnerships. “All of the 10 teams who went through the program have gained a solid understanding of the early stages of venture formation. We’re excited to showcase six teams from the program that are ready to present in front of judges.”
The community is invited to watch the competition, where each team will pitch for five minutes in front of a panel of four judges, who are experts in entrepreneurship and venture development. The judging panel is as follows:
- Alberto Galasso, PhD, Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
- Ella Korets-Smith, MBA, MSc, Chief Business Officer, Virica Biotech
- Angela McDonald, PhD, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Versant Ventures
- Robin Quirk, PhD, MBA, Vice President, Technology Sourcing & Venture Development, CCRM
H2i, which has supported more than 500 companies across all three U of T campuses since its inception in 2014, provided coaching and mentoring opportunities to the teams.
“Participating in the Building a Biotech Venture program has given us an opportunity to work with these up-and-coming entrepreneurs as they explore ideas, build business concepts and refine their pitching skills,” says Paul Santerre, director of H2i and a professor at the Faculty of Dentistry and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at U of T. “I anticipate successful advances for the ventures well beyond this program. Seven teams from last year are still active with the support of H2i and Toronto’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. They’re winning pitches, negotiating investments and advancing their IP. Two of them are participating in Creative Destruction Lab, a more advanced program.”
One of the main goals of Building a Biotech Venture is to prepare the teams to be successful in programs like the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), a Medicine by Design partner, and to be ready to participate in CDL’s Health Stream, which will connect them with investors and venture funding opportunities.
Learn more about or register for the pitch competition.
Meet the teams
Six teams were selected for their potential to contribute to the regenerative and precision medicine ecosystem.
Delivering the promise of RNA therapy
Lab: Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Immunology, University of Toronto
This company’s product, a delivery vehicle for mRNA-based therapies, has the potential to make it possible for rare diseases to be treated with mRNA. The platform could also apply to regenerative medicine treatments such as stem cell reprogramming and inflammatory disorders.