News & Announcements

CSU I-Corps Partners to Offer Bio-entrepreneurship Workshop to Researchers Nationwide




The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced eight new Inclusive Entrepreneurship supplemental awards under the Innovation Corps (I-CorpsTM) program, including one to CSU I-Corps, a member of the National Innovation Network. The Inclusive Entrepreneurship grants are designed to "increase participation and promote inclusion of underrepresented populations in the National Innovation Network."

The grant to CSU I-Corps, a program of the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB), will support a June 2017 Bio-entrepreneurship Workshop for a diverse group of early-career researchers during this year's Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Conference in San Diego. Pete Pellerito, BIO's Senior Advisor for Federal/State Economic Development and University Relations stated, "BIO welcomes this I-Corps initiative and its efforts to diversify the industry's innovator pipeline. We look forward to having the Bio-entrepreneurship Workshop participants at BIO 2017."

Susan Baxter, Executive Director of CSUPERB, said "We are looking forward to hosting life science researchers from universities nationwide at San Diego State University. The workshop will help unmask the skills, resources and networks needed to commercialize research-based ideas." Stanley Maloy, Dean of the College of Sciences at San Diego State University, added "The unique perspectives of diverse teams can generate creative insights into important problems. This workshop will provide the tools for turning these innovative ideas into commercially viable solutions that lead to rewarding careers and economic growth."

During the 2.5-day Bio-entrepreneurship Workshop, participants will learn about evidence-based entrepreneurship and value proposition design, pillars of the curriculum offered by I-CorpsTM sites and nodes nationwide. The workshop will pair participants and biotechnology industry experts in working teams.  After formulating value propositions, teams will test assumptions on the BIO 2017 exhibition floor.

CSUPERB will work with the E. E. Just Life Sciences Society, an initiative of the Center for Healthcare Innovation (CHI), and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) to recruit workshop participants nationwide.  "This bio-entrepreneurship workshop is ideal for our population of students," said Avery August, ABRCMS Chair, Professor at Cornell University and CSU Los Angeles alum, "it complements our efforts to broaden access to career options as an integral part of the STEM learning experience." Chad Womack, National Director of STEM Initiatives at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), said "the purpose of the bio-entrepreneurship workshop is to empower participants with cutting-edge strategies for startup entrepreneurship in the life sciences.  We believe the workshop will also enhance diversity and inclusion while supporting the growth of the bio-industry."

The Bio-entrepreneurship Workshop responds to a key finding of the 2016 California Talent Report co-authored by two BIO-affiliated organizations in California, the Biocom Institute and the California Life Sciences Institute (CLSI). The report cites concern from life science industry executives about "future talent from groups that are already unrepresented (i.e. African American, Hispanic and female) in STEM fields. Many recognize…the industry needs to do more to engage these underrepresented populations." CLSI and the Biocom Institute will help with BIO conference coordination, helping to draw in industry experts and mentors from Biocom and California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) member companies and CSU I-Corps' statewide mentor and alumni networks.

"We hope the Bio-entrepreneurship Workshop will become an integral part of BIO conventions in the future and help expand and diversify the ecosystem for life science innovation," said Lori Lindburg, CEO/President of CLSI. "As we gain experience this summer, we want to work with BIO and the national Coalition of State Bioscience Institutes to better integrate activities into convention programming," said Liisa Bozinovic, Executive Director of Biocom Institute.

The 2017 Bio-entrepreneurship Workshop will be held June 19-21, 2017, at San Diego State University.  The NSF grant will cover participants' travel to and from San Diego, lodging and meals. Applications will be accepted starting in February.

 [updated Feb. 24, 2017: Program information and applications can be found at the CSU I-Corps website​.]