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Building a Biotech Venture is a new program for regenerative medicine-focused trainees in labs at the University of Toronto and its affiliated hospitals. Offered in partnership with the Health Innovation Hub (H2i).

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About Building a Biotech Venture

Looking to translate your regenerative medicine research or technology into a product or venture but don’t know where to start? Through a workshop and mentorship over winter/spring 2021, you will:

  • learn how to think about your research in terms of a product or business;
  • connect with peers to form a venture team;
  • develop your product or venture “story;”
  • build a business canvas and pitch deck; and
  • receive mentoring and guidance from industry experts throughout the process.

The program will culminate in a pitch competition on May 19, 2021, where the winning team will receive up to $25,000 in research funding to advance their product or venture concept.

Building a Biotech Venture schedule

  • Session 1: Information Session – Passed
    Watch recording here.

    This session will provide an overview of the program and how to enroll, as well as an introduction to H2i’s 10-point plan, which outlines 10 key elements of a business canvas. Medicine by Design will help facilitate venture team creation between session 1 and session 2 for those who do not have an existing team.
  • Session 2: H2i’s 10-Point Plan Workshop
    March 2, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – Passed

    Teams will dive into more detail on H2i’s 10-point plan, and start developing a venture one-pager and a pitch deck on their venture concept. Mentors from H2i’s community will work with teams during the workshop to provide feedback. Post-workshop, teams will be assigned H2i mentors and receive ongoing mentoring to further develop their business cases and pitch decks.
  • Session 3: Medicine by Design Pitch Competition
    May 19, 2021

    Teams who attended the session 2 workshop are invited to apply to this pitch competition. The winning team will receive up to $25,000 in research funding to advance their product concept.

If you have any immediate questions regarding this program, please contact Stephanie Hume (stephanie.hume@utoronto.ca).

FAQ – General Information

Yes, your venture idea should be linked to regenerative medicine to join the workshop. Only pitches that have a regenerative medicine application will be accepted into the pitch competition.

Definition of Regenerative Medicine

Medicine by Design has a broad perspective on the definition of Regenerative Medicine. The field includes the use of stem cells (or their derivatives) to replace diseased tissues and organs, creating therapies in which cells are the biological product. Regenerative medicine can also mean triggering stem cells that are already present in the human body to repair damaged tissues or to modulate immune responses. This approach is often referred to as endogenous repair and can include novel small molecules and/or biologic candidates as well as biomaterials. Increasingly, regenerative medicine researchers are using a stem cell lens to identify critical interactions or defects that prepare the ground for disease, paving the way for new approaches to preventing disease before it starts. Enabling technologies such as cell manufacturing platforms and stem cell-based organ-on-chip technologies are also important aspects of the field and areas of interest to Medicine by Design. If you are unsure about whether your venture idea has a link to regenerative medicine, please contact Stephanie Hume (stephanie.hume@utoronto.ca).

Yes, if your research/product concept is related to regenerative medicine (see definition in question above), and your PI has an appointment at U of T. If you do not meet these criteria, you still may be able to participate — please contact Stephanie Hume (stephanie.hume@utoronto.ca) to discuss your eligibility.

Although the program is primarily for trainees, PIs may participate in the program.

The workshop is designed for hands-on, team-based work and participants are asked to register as a team. Medicine by Design is facilitating team building ahead of the first workshop. Please complete this Program Admissions Survey by February 5 to be connected with potential team members. If you are unable to find a team but would still like to participate in the program, please contact info.h2i@utoronto.ca or stephanie.hume@utoronto.ca ahead of registering.

The program is designed to help teams move forward with conceptualizing a new company or product based on their research in regenerative medicine. Participants can include those already working in a team on a business plan as well as those with an interest in learning about the skills and processes associated with entrepreneurship. Trainees at any stage along this spectrum will find the workshop useful. The pitch competition is only for teams that are ready to take the next steps with their venture, and have a proposed way to spend the $25,000 in funding.

After teams have gone through the 10 Point Plan workshop, they will work with mentors to develop their venture idea and pitch. Interested teams can then apply to take part in Medicine by Design’s pitch competition in the spring.

The research funding must be spent in a lab at U of T or its affiliated hospitals. The award funding will be held by the trainee’s PI. As part of the pitch competition application, teams will be asked to outline how they would spend the $25,000 to advance their product concept. Funds are to be spent are to be spent in accordance with the specific project-approved budget and within Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) guidelines. Please see CFREF Financial Administration Guide at http://www.cfref-apogee.gc.ca/program-programme/admin_guide-guide_administration-eng.aspx.

Visit H2i’s website to find out more about how they can support you as you build your venture. For additional support,sign up to join H2i’s community of 130 active companies, trainees and mentors. For any questions about joining H2i, please contact info.h2i@utoronto.ca.

FAQ – Mentorship

At the 10 Point Plan workshop on March 2, H2i mentors will circulate between breakout rooms to support teams and provide guidance on their business one-pager and pitch deck. After the workshop, and once teams have become H2i members, they will be matched with a specific mentor. Ahead of the pitch competition, teams will also receive dedicated mentorship from H2i Director, Paul Santerre and H2i Program Coordinator, Vivian Cheung.

Teams will have access to mentorship hours in the following streams over the course of this program:

Venture Development (March 26 & 31, 2021)

Each of the teams in the Building a Biotech Venture program will be invited to a dedicated full hour of mentoring with H2i Director Paul Santerre in March to begin to further refine their venture idea. After this dedicated hour, teams may access additional mentorship at their discretion as an H2i client company.

Pitch Refinement (May/June 2021)

All pitch finalists will have access to the following mentorship to prepare them for the competition:

  • 30 minutes of pitch deck and story refinement with H2i Program Coordinator, Vivian Cheung
  • 30 minutes of venture and business idea refinement with H2i Director, Paul Santerre, and one of our Associate Directors

All mentoring sessions are scheduled through the H2i Program Coordinator, Vivian Cheung.

Dedicated one-hour time slots have been set aside on March 26 & 31, 2021, between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.for a tailored mentoring session with H2i Director Paul Santerre where you will receive feedback on your product concept and business plan. You will also be guided on how to further refine your company one-pager and your pitch deck and will be given a chance to ask any questions you may have on how to better build your biotech venture.

Teams who sign up to become H2i client companies will have access to additional mentorship from the H2i core team to be booked as frequently as needed. We encourage you to submit yourH2i venture application right after the 10 Point Plan Workshop on March 2. To sign up, please select “venture application” at this link: https://h2i.utoronto.ca/membership. Please reach out to the H2i Program Coordinator to inquire about available times once your venture application has been received.

Pitch competition finalists will be contacted with further information regarding available mentorship sessions in May/June 2021.