Now, in the competition's seventh year, there's an additional bonus - the winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize to help the winning company achieve a business development milestone. This prize is in addition to the valuable mentoring opportunities that emerging entrepreneurs receive as a component of the program, said Jennifer Moore Sherer, Ph.D., executive director of Southeast BIO (SEBIO).
According to the organization's marketing material, the BIO/Plan Competition at SEBIO is "designed to foster the creation of new venture-attractive life science and medical technology companies and the development of corporate partnering opportunities in the Southeast U.S." A lofty goal, indeed.
Here's the thing, though - it works. For the winners, and for the finalists, the process helps drive companies towards capitalization through venture money or through corporate partnering, said Sherer.
Take CED Member Oncoscope, for example, a finalist in the original BIO/Plan Competition in 2007. According to Sherer, the company has raised $5.1 million in venture capital since participating. The company has also augmented this funding with $4.6 million in grant money.
The deadline to apply to the 2013 BIO/Plan Competition is Monday, April 15, 2013. We've asked Jennifer Moore Sherer, Ph.D., a few additional questions on the competition, and our interview is below.
CED: We understand that a selection committee elects the finalists from a pool of applicants – how is the selection committee formed?
Sherer: There are two selection steps. The first is to select up to ten semi-finalists from a pool of applicants. These semi-finalists will participate in the mentoring component of the program and at the end of the mentoring period, submit a business proposal/development plan for judging (i.e. the second selection step).
CED: What happens next?
Sherer: Four finalists are selected from the semi-finalist pool to present their opportunities at the annual SEBIO Investor & Partnering Forum. The selection committee consists of volunteers from throughout the Southeast region. The committee is diverse with respect to representation of the life science subsectors (e.g. biotech, medical device, pharma, diagnostics, etc.) and typically includes investors (angel and VC), corporate business development representatives, entrepreneurs, and service providers with start-up or commercialization expertise.
CED: How many applications will you receive in 2013?
Sherer: We expect 40-50 applications this year.
CED: What are the two primary benefits to startup companies? In other words, why would a startup company apply?
Sherer: Exposure and vetting of your business opportunity. There are multiple opportunities for exposure to the regional investment and corporate life science communities; as applicants advance through the program, the frequency of interaction with and exposure to potential investors and partners increases.
Sherer: Also, applicants that advance to the semi-final round and participate in the mentoring component of the program develop a business proposal or development plan that is well vetted by industry experts, which can add value to the underlying assets.
Are there other benefits to applying and participating?
Sherer: Yes, the program is educational (through the mentoring process) for emerging entrepreneurs. Also, the overall winner receives a $10,000 cash prize to help achieve a business development milestone.
CED: What’s one thing that life science companies could do tomorrow in order to grow their business?
Sherer: Be diligent about finding ways to use capital as efficiently and effectively as possible.
CED: How is the BIO/Plan Competition unique from other business competitions?
Sherer: The BIO/Plan Competition is designed to attract the earliest stage potential business opportunities from southeastern research universities, research centers and existing entrepreneurs. It is not a “business plan” competition, per se, but rather a program that seeks and helps cultivate assets that are on the verge of becoming a venture-attractive company or corporate partnering opportunity.
CED: What else can life science startups do to prepare for venture capital fundraising - other than join CED, of course?
Sherer: Companies with an established business plan, and/or management team, and/or are resident in a local incubator, but not yet professionally funded, will find greater benefits from applying to the SEBIO EARLY/Stage program later this spring.
Editor's Note: Companies in North Carolina, particularly those in the Triangle, may also be interested in either CED FastTrac®TechVenture™ or the CED Venture Mentoring Service (CED-VMS).