Biotech founders in the making, get ready. A new life-science startup incubator is coming to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Nucleate, a free and collaborative student-run organization, works to empower biotech founders by facilitating the formation of pioneering life sciences companies. The organization has a presence in many locations across the United States and recently established a chapter in Colorado.
Nucleate Boulder is open to eligible students from universities across the state, including the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, CU Boulder, CU Denver, Colorado School of Mines and Colorado State University. Through team formation, mentorship and networking, the program aims to equip students with the knowledge needed to build a company that many do not receive in their formal education.
Pioneering a hub for students
“Our core mission is to pioneer a hub for students, specifically PhD and postdocs, interested in building life-science ventures,” said Stefanos Koutsoukos, one of Nucleate Boulder’s managing directors. Koutsoukos is in his first year as a PhD student in the Human Medical Genetics and Genomics program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and in fall 2021 reached out to Nucleate headquarters about starting a Colorado chapter. He is the chapter’s co-founder and is excited to partner with a new generation of student biotech founders in Colorado.
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“One way Nucleate Boulder hopes to work with students is through their thesis work, either at the beginning, middle or end of their PhD or postdoc. We want to help students spin out their research, raise money and ultimately, at the end of the day, do good science that will make a broad impact,” Koutsoukos said.
According to Koutsoukos, biotech venture formation led by PhDs or postdocs is a relatively new idea. “I could probably go through my entire PhD and graduate studies without having any exposure to biotech venture formation,” he said. “It's very much an education and training that you need to, at least in the current infrastructure, pursue yourself. With that being said, even when you do seek it out, the resources that are student-centric are very limited. We are excited to change this paradigm.”
Nucleate Boulder’s incubator called the Activator program begins with a mutual-matching team formation phase where it pairs students in a team of other early-career individuals with a similar vision for a biotech startup. It will offer workshops and mentor office hours, culminating in a final pitch showcase before world-renown venture capitalists (VCs) from across the industry. The group is inviting students from a wide range of backgrounds, including life science and business (MBAs are welcome to apply). Applications for Nucleate Boulder’s first Activator open on Aug. 1 and close in October.
Nucleate Boulder will have an official launch party in early September. Along with regional leadership, the event will host founders and VCs from across the Colorado biotech landscape and be a valuable networking event for students.
Laura Veith is a special contributor.