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Jul 1, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 13)

Building a Successful Biotech Incubator

Proximity to Academic Hubs and Capital Remains a Crucial Factor in Hatching a Thriving Cluster

  • Training

    Entrepreneurial support and training are vital to biotech start-ups. Brilliant scientific founders aren’t necessarily brilliant in business, and even experienced executives can be stymied by the regulatory considerations associated with bringing a drug to market. To fill in some of the gaps, the savviest business accelerators hold regular get-togethers and seminars.

    For example, BIOCOM’s monthly meetings typically attract more than 200 people. It hosts more than 100 networking opportunities each year. Some of the topics have included financing trends, transitioning from the lab to leadership, a briefing on the key concepts of modern biology, and strategies to inspire innovation.

    MaRS has a virtual education program dubbed “Entrepreneurship 101.” One February class features budgeting, another agrifood innovation. The classes are available at no cost, and anyone can register. The program also includes blogs and discussion groups such as the drug development and cancer targets groups. So far, MaRS has relied on viral marketing to get the word out.

    Buffalo Biosciences has a seminar series that takes entrepreneurs through the entire process, including raising capital, grant writing, licensing, and working with universities for partnerships and tech transfer. “You have to take resident knowledge and transfer it to a body of knowledge people can use,” Johnson says. “Different technologies and ideas drive business.”

  • Support Services

    “An incubator needs not just a group of accountants, but a group of experts with hands-on experience in taking a product from idea to market,” Johnson says. “This is totally different from the academic world.”

    To provide that expertise, MaRS developed the MaRS Venture Group. This team of experienced investors, entrepreneurs, technology experts, and advisors works with companies to help them bridge the gap between entrepreneurial start-up and experienced growth company. The Venture Group provides market intelligence as well  as advisory services such as strategic planning, partnership and alliance building, intellectual property management, marketing and communications, sales strategy, channel development, financing, and human resource development. It works with groups outside the MaRS orbit, too.

Readers' Comments

Posted 09/03/2009 by BioTech Student

Thank you so much for this wonderful article. I am involved in a project and this article helped me a lot in understanding incubators!

Posted 07/09/2009 by Biotech Entrepreneur

Does anyone have advice on the first steps to forming a new biotech incubator? I am a computational biotech consultant who is also a serial entrepreneur. I am looking to form a biotech incubator in NJ that leverages the academic talent in NJ (Princeton, Rutgers, etc.) as well as Pennsylvania (University of Pennsylvania, etc.) This incubator would act as a bridge between the early discovery results from academic research efforts and the abundant pharma and biotech companies located in NJ, PA, NY, DE. If you have any ideas please contact me at my computational biotechnology website

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