BBI Matchmaking event connects inventors, students and industry professionals

By Stella Paffenholz

On May 18 2017 the Bench to Bedside Initiative (BBI) together with Hacking Health NYC presented its second annual Commercializing Life Sciences Matchmaking event. Participants had the opportunity to meet and mingle with Tri-Institutional inventors and industry professionals to network and find teammates for the 2017 BBI course and Pitch Day Competition. The diverse group of attendees included people from academic research, technology, healthcare and the business communities.

The event’s keynote speech was delivered by Samuel Globus, the Director of Scientific Operations at Celmatix, a personalized medicine company focused on women’s health and fertility. The company was founded and is currently headed by Piraye Yurttas Beim, who laid the foundation for her expertise in personalized medicine during her doctoral work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and Weill Cornell Medicine. Samuel Globus emphasized how important it is for students to get to know non-academic tracks early in their career and that – as he himself is also a former graduate student at Weill Cornell and MSKCC –the Bench to Bedside Initiative is very close to his heart.

The inspiring keynote talk was followed by a presentation by Du Cheng, founder of iDu Optics, and winner of both the Weill Cornell Medicine Dean’s Entrepreneurship Lab $50K Biomedical Business Plan Challenge and 2016 Pitch Day Competition. Du’s company developed, and is currently selling, an imaging adapter for microscopes and portable electronic devices that helps researchers to more easily acquire and transmit imaging data.



Attendees network and look for team members at the BBI matchmaking event

Following Du’s presentation inventors were given the opportunity to spark the audience’s interest in their technologies by delivering one-minute pitches. The technologies were as diverse as the backgrounds of the attendees, ranging from an emergency response app, to artificial intelligence technology for drug target identification. Founders and inventors then presented their work with posters or interactive displays in a networking session, giving interested attendees the chance to learn more about the ideas or even try out the technology first-hand.

After the event BBI is staying engaged with attendees to keep them active in NYC’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Fostering such an ecosystem will hopefully create an environment where students can become exposed to business ideas and Tri-Intisutional start-ups can thrive.

Past BBI Winners Inspire New Group of Inventors for the 2017 Competition

Contributed By Mariam Giorgadze and Thomas Galassi

Last year, the Bench to Bedside Initiative (BBI) hosted its first Commercializing Life Sciences Matchmaking Event. This event teamed up scientists and clinicians with business professionals and fueled the success of participating teams in BBI’s 12 week-long course and Pitch Day competition. Following the competition, BBI’s two winning teams, iDu Optics and OneThree Biotech, successfully transitioned to compete in the Weill Cornell Medicine Dean’s Entrepreneurship Lab $50K Biomedical Business Plan Challenge, the finals of which will be held on May 10th.

This year BBI hopes that its matchmaking event will lead to even more high quality teams entering the 2017 Pitch Day Competition. Kenny Nova, an Entrepreneur and Angel Investor who participated in BBI’s 2016 Pitch Day recommends the event saying:

“This is a great opportunity for intellectually intrigued individuals who want to build something from the ground and take charge. Cornell Entrepreneurship Lab provides tremendous opportunity to investigate new inventions and cutting edge technology that’s set out to effectively and efficiently solve today’s healthcare challenges. There is a huge opportunity and need to create community around the life science inventions. No one can do this alone. Inventors can’t become business experts over night and business experts can’t absorb all the knowledge and medical expertise required either. When you look at these inventions and problems there are solving, [the] immediate need is to prioritize well and help inventors focus on [the] right issues while building the commercial application. So there is a great opportunity for both parties to complement each other. Only this can ensure successful translation of inventions and applications into commercial products and ignition of new startups.”

Anybody who is interested in ensuring the successful translation of inventions should be sure to get involved with BBI and not miss this year’s Commercializing Life Sciences Matchmaking Event on May 18th. Participants will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with Tri-institutional (Weill Cornell Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Rockefeller University) inventors and industry professionals to start finding teammates for the 2017 BBI course and Pitch Day Competition.


BBI Alumni Learn How to Turn Business Plans into an Investment

By Thomas Galassi and Sarah Kishinevsky

Last summer the Weill Cornell Dean’s Entrepreneurship Lab and the Cornell Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) worked together to host a “Patent Class Mini Series” as a follow up to the BBI course. Upon the completion of the mini-series participants filled out course evaluations and indicated an overwhelmingly positive reaction. Furthermore, when asked for suggestions, several participants indicated a desire for additional lectures.

In response to these requests the Weill Cornell Dean’s Entrepreneurship Lab and BioPharma Alliances and Research Collaborations expanded this series and offered a Biotechnology Due Diligence Workshop. The workshop consisted of 7 lectures covering:

  • Expanding your patent portfolio strategy as a startup
  • The important documents that are involved in starting a company
  • Incorporation
  • How to hire employees/consultants
  • Types of investors and investments
  • FDA compliance
  • University licensing
  • Walking through a standard term sheet with a venture capital investor


Workshop participants hear a lecture by Craig Kenesky

Lecturers for the course included Craig Kenesky, Ph.D. and Associate and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, PC, Vibhu Sachdev, JD. Cornell Technology Licensing, and Blake Stevens, Ph.D., Vice President at Harris and Harris Venture Capital and Private Equity. Specifically, these lecturers taught BBI alumni the steps necessary to turn a business plan built around a scientific discovery/invention into a seed funded startup company. From all accounts the lectures were extremely effective as participants indicated the workshop was “very practical”, “well organized”, and “provided a clear picture of starting a company.” Moreover, when asked to quantify their opinions participants gave the workshop  an average score of 4.69 out of 5 for being informative and 4.77 out of 5 for being interesting.

To keep this positive momentum going the Dean’s E-lab and BBI will continue to offer events throughout the spring. Next up will be the Weill Cornell Biomedical Business Plan Challenge and a BBI matchmaking event where inventors will showcase their technologies to attendees in hopes of forming the strongest business plan teams possible for this falls upcoming Pitch Day Competition.

Paul Hastings LLP Provides BBI with its Two Largest Prizes Yet

By Thomas Galassi

At BBI’s 2016 Pitch Day Finals two teams, iDu Optics and OneThree Biotech, were able to capture the first and second place prizes, respectively. In addition to receiving prizes from WuXi AppTec, The Big Red Venture Fund, The Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels and inDinero, these teams also received the two largest prizes in BBI’s four year history: a combined $25,000 in legal fees ($15,000 for first place and $10,000 for second place) from Paul Hastings LLP.

We would like to thank Paul Hastings LLP for their generous support

Paul Hastings LLP is an international law firm with 21 offices around the world and a corporate group that brings together more than 450 lawyers to advise companies with innovative technology and cutting edge ideas across numerous industries, particularly in the life sciences, software, and e-commerce. The services of this world class law firm are sure to be invaluable to the teams as Paul Hastings has received numerous prestigious honors including:

  • Winning the Financial Times’ Great Legal Ideas Award
  • Being named a top five firm for innovation in North America by the Financial Times
  • Being named in the 2017 BTI Consulting Group Client Sercie A-Team report as one of the top 30 law firms that deliver the best service to clients

These prizes, coupled with the other prizes received by iDu Optics and OneThree Biotech on Pitch Day, are already providing incredible value to the teams as they move forward. According to team members the legal services provided by Paul Hastings have been “a tremendous help” that “will be crucial for moving forward.” Without a doubt these services will place this year’s class winners in prime position to move their teams forward towards investable startup companies.

iDU Optics and OneThreeBiotech Take Home Prizes at 2016 Pitch Day Finals

By Thomas Galassi

After three months of lectures and three rounds of business plan pitches we are proud to announce the winners and runners-up of the 2016 BBI Pitch Day competition as:

  • iDu Optics – LabCam microscope adapter (First Place)
    • Members:
      • Du Cheng – Tri-I MD/PhD Program, Inventor of technology
      • Shaun Tao, Rockefeller University
      • Yin-Yin Wang, Sales Representative, Stemcell Technologies
      • Tania Silcott, Clinical Analyst, Code Blue Informatics
Team iDu Optics with Nigel Liverton, Executive Director at WuXi AppTec
  • OneThree Biotech – A better approach to drug target convolution (Runner-up)
    • Members:
      • Neel Madhukar – Weill Cornell PhD Student, Inventor of Technology
      • Robert Fieldhouse – Post Doctoral Fellow, Mount Sinai
      • Suranjit Mukherjee – Weill Cornell PhD Student
      • Rafal Wiewiora – Tri-I PhD Student
Team OneThreeBiotech with their prize provided by the Big Red Venture Fund

In what was without a doubt the strongest, most competitive BBI Pitch Day competition yet, these two teams stood above the rest and captured several coveted, and valuable, prizes. Each team presented a phenomenal seven minute business plan pitch and then aptly responded to the judges during the ensuing four minute question and answer session.  For their performances on Pitch Day the teams were rewarded with several, extremely valuable prizes from some of BBI’s most gracious sponsors:

  • WuXi AppTec generously provided a $1000 prize for the first place iDu Optics team. WuXi AppTec is a leading global pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and medical device open-access capability and technology platform global operation that provides a broad an integrated portfolio of services throughout the R&D process.
  • The Big Red Venture Fund and its fund manager Kiel Iwanek, provided a $500 prize for the second place OneThreeBiotech team. The Big Red Venture Fund is an early-stage venture capital fund operated entirely by a team of MBA students at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management that typically invests up to $250,000 in U.S.-based high-growth companies across all industries.
  • The Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels have presented iDu Optics with the opportunity to pitch at 1st Pitch Life Sciences, an event designed to encourage and educate aspiring life science entrepreneurs who know they may be too early to seek investment but want the opportunity to practice their pitch and to receive constructive criticism from experienced and knowledgeable professionals.
  • inDinero is graciously offering $500 in accounting services to both iDu Optics and OneThreeBiotech. inDinero is a software with service accounting company that acts as an outsourced controller for its clients that aims to free up its clients to focus on the more strategic imperatives of their business.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, this year’s Pitch Day contestants will be well prepared should they decide to move their business plans forward and attempt to turn their technologies into incorporated start-up companies.

BBI would like to thank their gracious sponsors for their generous support

Two Teams Take Home Valuable Prizes during BBI’s Elimination Round

By Thomas Galassi

On Tuesday November 15th, BBI held the Elimination Round of its annual business plan competition. Seventeen remaining teams presented their seven minute pitches and were then questioned by the judges for two additional minutes. During the elimination round two consulting prizes (each a $500 value) were awarded to two teams that competed in the Pitch Day Finals on December 13th:

  • iDU Optics was awarded the KevinBizGlobal Prize. The prize included a complementary 90 minute consulting session with Kevin FitzGerald, founder of the startup and leadership coaching firm KevinBizGlobal,  an online service connecting and mentoring entrepreneurs worldwide.
  • OneThreeBiotech was awarded the Blue Cactus Consulting Prize. This prize included a complementary two hour consulting session with Yaniv Sneor, co-founder of Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels1st Pitch Life Sciences, and Blue Cactus Consulting, a firm with expertise assisting physical and life science companies with business strategy and technology commercialization and monetization.
Thank you to our gracious sponsors Blue Cactus Consulting and KevinBizGlobal

According to the winners these consulting prizes were “invaluable as [they] prepared for both the Pitch Day and any future entrepreneurial activities.” This was evidenced by the fact that both iDU Optics and OneThreeBiotech gave award winning pitches during the Final Round on December 13th. We would like to thank KevinBizGlobal and Blue Cactus Consulting for their generosity as their prizes had a big hand in raising the quality of BBI’s 4th annual Pitch Day Competition.


Seven Teams Advance to Pitch Day Finals

By Thomas Galassi

On Tuesday November 15th, BBI held the Elimination Round of its annual business plan competition. Seventeen remaining teams presented their seven minute pitches and were then questioned by the judges for two additional minutes. Judges selected which teams would advance to the final round of the Pitch Day Competition on December 13th. This year’s finalists represent all three institutions of the Tri-Institution and are listed below, with the inventing institution’s licensing office or individual in parentheses:

  • Sensogen – Pulse-oximetry technologies (Sloan Kettering)
  • PARP Wash – Revolutionizing Oral Cancer DetectionTM (Sloan Kettering)
  • New Lymph node imaging in breast cancer surgery with light emitting nanoparticles (Sloan Kettering)
  • RU4 Therapeutics – Jq1 as a novel therapy for treating epileptic seizures (Rockefeller)
  • Toxidem – Making in vitro toxicology faster, less expensive, & more accurate (Weill Cornell)
  • OneThree Biotech – A better approach to drug target convolution (Weill Cornell)
  • iDu Optics – LabCam microscope adapter (Du Cheng, MD, PhD student)

Teams will revise their pitches based off feedback from mentor judges and BBI TAs in preparation for December 13th. Two teams that will certainly have an advantage going into the final competition are the winners of this year’s Yaniv Sneor, and Kevin FitzGerald Consultation prizes. The winners of these prizes that will be competing in the final round of pitches are:

  • iDu Optics – Kevin FitzGerald Prize. This prize includes a complementary 90 minute consulting session with Kevin FitzGerald, founder of the startup and leadership coaching firm KevinBizGlobal ($500 value).
  • OneThreeBiotech – Yaniv Sneor Prize. This prize includes a complementary two hour consulting session with Yaniv Sneor, co-founder of Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels, 1st Pitch Life Sciences, and Blue Cactus Consulting ($500 value).

The remainder of this year’s prizes will be announced after the final round of pitches on December 13th. In previous competitions the winner of the Pitch Day competition showed major improvements in their pitches between the Elimination and Final Rounds, so we expect this year’s contest to be wide open, and wish all of the competing teams the best of luck moving forward.

To get free tickets to the December 13th Pitch Day Competition click here.

We would like to give a special thanks to all of our gracious mentors for their time.