A recent City of Hope conference on venture capital and scientific entrepreneurship was so successful that organizers already plan a follow-up session on how to create and structure a fledgling company.
The Center for Applied Technology Development, or CATD, hosted about 80 people at its “Venture capital: What you need to know for a start-up” conference, which featured five venture capitalists discussing key elements for taking a technology idea to the marketplace.
“We had a very positive response,” said Larry A. Couture, Ph.D., senior vice president of the CATD. “A number of City of Hope investigators expressed interest in presenting at a future City of Hope venture capital conference, suggesting even stronger entrepreneurial spirit here than we might had guessed.”
As Couture explains, medicine and the biological sciences are rich with potential for new creations and inventions, but only if scientists take a chance and push those ideas forward — and have financial backing to do so. Investigators must understand what it takes to take an idea to the market and whether their ideas are ready for commercial exploration.
Venture capitalists can help by providing the money and management expertise to move ideas forward, whether that means starting an entirely new company or licensing technology to an existing company.
At the March conference, basic scientists, physicians and technicians not only listened and asked questions of the venture capitalists, but several researchers gave presentations about their own ongoing work and the unique technologies involved in those projects. Presenters included these investigators:
• Daniela Castanotto, Ph.D. (for John Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair and professor in the Division of Molecular Biology) — potent forms of siRNAs called 27mers
• Steve Sommer, M.D., Ph.D. — next-generation nucleic acid diagnostics
• Don Diamond, Ph.D. — human cytomegalovirus vaccines
• Nagarajan Vaidehi, Ph.D. — finding a hit for G-protein coupled receptors
• Richard Jove, Ph.D. — cancer drug discovery
• Michael Jensen, M.D. — engineered T-cells for cancer treatment
Already, one of the venture capitalists at the conference is seeking to connect one of the City of Hope investigators with one of his own companies to further develop the technology, Couture said.
The event generated such enthusiasm that the CATD plans to offer a follow-up session, most likely in autumn. The workshop will bring the start-up process alive — explaining how to create and organize a start-up firm — and will feature case studies of small companies spawned by local researchers.
For further information on scientific entrepreneurship at City of Hope, please contact the CATD at ext. 65600.