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Giving biotech startups a hand

When the Milken Institute released its report on the life sciences industry last year, the region scored high in categories measuring employment level, industry growth and economic impact.

Where the area floundered was in the small business vitality index. That category evaluated how successful regions are in creating new entrepreneurial firms. Philadelphia came in ninth among 11 geographic markets studied in the report.

Karen J. Hanson sees BioStrategy Partners as a ‘capacity building’ organization.

One group trying to improve that lackluster ranking is BioStrategy Partners.

BioStrategy Partners is a virtual life sciences incubator that provides technology and business development services to startup and emerging-stage life sciences companies and university-based research projects.

The 5-year-old nonprofit, based in Elkins Park, does not fund early-stage companies, a function handled by local organizations such as BioAdvance, Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Science Center. Those organizations also offer programs and services that support biotech startups.

Many BioStrategy programs and services are geared toward the first-time entrepreneur.

“We are a capacity-building organization,” said Karen J. Hanson, former head of the defunct economic development group Greater Philadelphia First and now BioStrategy’s executive director. “There’s an awful lot that has to be done to make a company ready for an investment… and today companies need to be stronger than ever to get the attention of investors.”

Joel Smith, past chairman of the organization, said BioStrategy Partners has also been described as “the first leg of a 440,” referring to the four by 440-yard track and field relay race, for scientists who wish to build a company around their discovery or invention and as the “bridge from science to business.”

Among its programs are:

  • The diligence program, which vets the commercialization potential for young life sciences companies and matches entrepreneurs with professionals from the BioStrategy Partners network to serve as mentors;
  • The corporate development program, which provides hands-on guidance to help emerging companies meet business growth milestones; and
  • The commercialization germinator, which provides assistance to university-based research projects with commercial potential.

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Media Contact:

Kristen Fitch

Kristen Fitch

Director, Marketing