RI Bio’s Entrepreneur in Residence Discusses Ocean State Resources for Start-Ups

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Things Are Going Swimmingly: Ocean State Resources for Start-Ups

Last week, my colleague at RI Bio, Carol Malysz and I presented at Innovate Newport’s Tuesday Talks event around my new role as Entrepreneur in Residence. The new position revolves around the desire of RI Bio to better help Rhode Island start-ups succeed early and often by guiding them in the best use of resources at the academic and state level. Many good and valuable technologies never reach the market; not because they don’t work, but because they didn’t work soon enough. We’re here to help.

Academic Resources

Many don’t know the plethora of resources available to them with university support across the state and every start-up should consider leveraging those affiliations. Core facilities at URI and Brown can save significant capital costs for young companies who may want to avoid owning $100,000 finicky mass spectrometers, cytometers, and other analytical equipment. Additionally, these academic affiliations allow entrepreneurs to access valuable research and development resources and non-dilutive federal funding. Start-ups should also look to consult university specialists regarding NIH and NSF evaluation boards to bump them into the top tier of consideration for SBIR support.

Rhode Island Resources

The state offers a wide variety of assistance programs and organizations to support start-ups in their early stages. Rhode Island resources of particular value for start-ups include:

· Innovation vouchers that fund critical early stage research to demonstrate proof-of-concept

· Science and Technology grants and SBIR support

· Innovation network and cluster grants

RI Bio’s resources can help identify and make immediate, valuable connections to stimulate business growth for start-ups as well. Our Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Technical Service Suite is specifically designed to help life science companies in a variety of ways including, but not limited to:

· Freedom-to-Operate (FTO) Analysis – Ensure a patent technology is unique and viable before a cash-strapped start-up spends up to $10,000 prosecuting it. The risk is real, read this recent story here where Evident Technologies was sued into bankruptcy for infringement.

· Identification of high-probability sources of capital – It’s important that a start-up match their technology to the right investor in terms of market and investment scale.

· Market vs. Tech Review – Most start-ups are challenged by either accessing the market or developing the technology; ideally one is not challenged by both.

· Responsible IP advancement – A start-up should be careful not to invest too heavily in protecting a technology that will not work or a patent that’s value cannot be readily realized. RI Bio can help identify the “killer” experiments, both technical and market related, that justify pursuing patent protection.

· SBIR/Non-Dilutive Guidance – RI Bio can help navigate and secure governmental grant opportunities. We can help identify achievable, interesting specific aims and milestones that will merit funding when presented to an SBIR panel.

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