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.


2015 BBI Pitch Day Winners Transition from Science to Entrepreneurship

By Thomas Galassi and Sarah Kishinevsky

Dr. Paige Yellen, former Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) research fellow;  Founder and CEO of ABC Life Sciences (Right), Dr. Ryan Williams, MSKCC Research Scholar; ABC Life Sciences Scientific Advisor (Middle),  and BBI Team Member Romain Fardel; Princeton University Associate Research Scholar,  (Left) were the winners of BBI’s 2015 Pitch Day.

In the lab of his Principal Investigator, Dr. Daniel Heller, Dr. Williams recently developed a new form of biodegradable nanoparticles. If successfully implemented, these nanoparticles could be used as vehicles to deliver life altering drugs to patients suffering from kidney problems. Shortly before publishing their results, the two scientists filed a provisional patent and began to seek out potential paths to commercialize their discovery. With this goal in mind, they enrolled their technology into the BBI series where the ABC Life Sciences team (pictured above) was formed.

In order to create an attractive pitch to investor judges on Pitch Day, ABC Life Sciences realized that they would need a go-to-market strategy to reach human patients. This required altering their scientific thinking away from that of academic researchers.

ABC Life Sciences positioned the nanoparticles as a platform technology. This is because the unique specificity of the nanoparticles makes them ideal for the delivery of any number of life altering drugs to the kidney with minimal side effects to other organs. ABC Life Sciences chose acute kidney injury (AKI) as their first indication due to its high rate of incidence (1-2 million Americans per year) and a lack of approved therapies for the disease.

While both Dr. Williams and Dr. Yellen found value in the initial mindset shift brought on by BBI, the benefits extended beyond those early experiences. Dr. Williams began to incorporate commercial end goals into his experimental designs, by investigating animal models of AKI. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Yellen took a major leap – she officially incorporated ABC Life Sciences and transitioned from an academic researcher to an entrepreneur.  The team progressed toward Pitch Day with the goal of impressing the judges and getting valuable feedback on how to present their business plan in an investment meeting. Dr. Yellen felt that working towards Pitch Day provided the team with motivation and focus – two vital characteristics for start-up companies.

Dr. Williams, who was a runner-up in the prior year’s Pitch Day found some extra motivation from its competitive nature: “I didn’t want to lose, I didn’t want to come in second place again,” said Dr. Williams when asked about how his prior experience shaped ABC Life Sciences’ performance. Fortunately, ABC Life Sciences did win Pitch Day and is continuing to grow, as Dr. Yellen seeks out investors and non-dilutive funding and Dr. Williams continues technology development.

For more information on ABC Life sciences, visit:  or


Have an interesting story or question for the editor? Contact

Interested in learning more about BBI? Visit