Some 50 members of the Launch NJ: Life Sciences Hub heard from Randy Harmon, lead technology commercialization consultant with the New Jersey Small Business Development Center (NJSBDC), at Rutgers Business School, and Yaniv Sneor, entrepreneur and angel investor, on Sept. 8, 2014. The meeting took place at Kean University.
In his introduction, Sam Kongsamut, organizer, said that the Launch NJ: Life Sciences Hub entrepreneurship community continues to grow. The 5-month old meetup group passed the 100 mark over the summer, and now stands at more than 140 members.
The group aims to provide a place where life science entrepreneurs can find help in getting their ventures started, he added.
Sneor, who founded Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels, spoke about funding as a component of a successful entrepreneurial effort, and focused on the importance of building a good team to execute a good idea. He said that, as startups are in need of customers and a business model, an experienced, flexible team is important. Sneor stressed that investors are interested in people first, ideas second. “All private equity investments are made in people, not just in science,” he said.
Harmon gave a comprehensive overview of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant processes, with an emphasis on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) program, of particular interest to life science entrepreneurs. He outlined the application procedures, and advocated looking at other government agencies as well, such as the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.
“Funding from the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs support the development of promising new technologies and serve as a pathway to equity fundraising,” added Harmon.
Dr. Keith Bostian, CEO of the Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship and Dean of Kean’s New Jersey Center for Science, Technology & Mathematics (NJCSTM), talked about the group with a reporter for a Kean University.
“An extraordinary depth of experienced life-sciences talent exists in the New Jersey area, which is home to major academic centers and a declining but still significant number of research-based biopharmaceutical companies that house world leaders across a broad range of scientific fields,” Dr. Bostian said.
Carlos Abad, who helped the Life Sciences Hub get off the ground as one of the LaunchNJ entrepreneurship groups, said that the life science meetup plays a role in the startup ecosystem of the state. “The pharmaceutical industry is an important sector in New Jersey, and there are big changes happening in the industry and in the state. The Life Sciences Hub creates a platform for an open dialogue and an exchange of ideas,” said Abad in a press release issued by Kean.