Starting a life science company from your research is certainly not for the faint of heart. It is not uncommon for a life science entrepreneur to work 80-120 hours per week. Furthermore, the entrepreneur must wear several different “hats”, including the hat of a scientist, executive decision-maker and janitor. There is a significant amount of risk associated with starting a life science company around your research; however, with great risk comes the potential for great reward. The OTL is here to guide you through the earliest stages of your company and discuss the various options and resources available to the aspiring life science entrepreneur.
Laying the Groundwork
Building a solid foundation is essential for a start-up company. This includes writing a business plan, developing the appropriate legal structure for the start-up company and hiring the right people. The OTL can put you in touch with the right resources and people to start the process. Finding ample and affordable wet lab space can also present a challenge for a burgeoning life science start-up company. Fortunately, the OTL has fostered relationships with several local incubators that offer wet lab space at a reasonable cost. Please follow the links provided or contact the OTL for more information.
Conflict of Interest
If you plan to maintain your position and tenure as a City of Hope employee while creating your start-up company, you must first present your case to the City of Hope Conflict of Interest (COI) committee. The purpose and goal of the COI committee is to identify ways to facilitate the start of a new company while managing any conflicts it may present vis-à-vis your duties as a City of Hope employee. The OTL can direct you to the appropriate COI committee members when you and your company are ready.
One of the most difficult challenges faced by aspiring life science companies is finding and securing adequate funding. A start-up company should consider all options, including the “3 Fs” (friends, family and fools), private angel or venture capital investors, institutional investors, pharmaceutical company-based investment funds and even government-based, non-diluting grants such as those offered through the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program. The amount of funding available from any investor will be limited, which requires investors to choose very carefully in which companies they invest. The burden of convincing investors that a company represents a solid investment opportunity falls squarely on the entrepreneur. The OTL is here to connect you to the appropriate people and organizations when the company is ready for a “pitch” to investors.
Building a Team
A successful company must assemble a team of high caliber, highly energetic individuals to perform key tasks and manage operations, including a CEO and COO. A talented and reliable attorney is an invaluable asset to a life science start-up. Forming a scientific advisory board is a good idea to guide the scientific direction of the company in its nascent stages. Having the right people on the scientific advisory board can tremendously improve visibility and focus the scientific efforts of the company. The latter is especially important at the earliest stages of a company’s development.