A seed fund to drive biopharma innovation

Pistoia Alliance looks to finance four projects annually from idea to proof of concept

Jeffrey Bouley
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BOSTON—In early October, the Pistoia Alliance—a global, not-for-profit alliance that works to lower barriers to innovation in life-sciences and healthcare R&D—launched its new Innovation Seed Fund to finance early-stage concepts in biopharma and healthcare.

Specifically, Pistoia is looking to fund three to four new projects per year related to research, prototypes and proof of concepts (POC), with the aim of lowering the risks of innovation for all stakeholders, while accelerating pre-competitive collaboration in R&D.

The Innovation Seed Fund will concentrate on ideas that align with one or more of the group’s strategic areas of focus, including: empowering patients, emerging science and technology, R&D productivity and data standards, and regulatory tools and services.

“The Innovation Seed Fund enables us to help organizations bring together the skills and funding they need to start new initiatives in healthcare and biopharma R&D regardless of their size, lowering the risks for the whole industry,” said Dr. Steve Arlington, president of the Pistoia Alliance. “This is a great opportunity for us to support companies and patient-led groups exploring new ideas and will give Pistoia Alliance members visibility of unique and interesting initiatives.

“By enabling more POCs to be created from early-stage ideas, we hope it will allow many to reach the point where they can go on to gain venture capital investment or further momentum within our community. Currently, countless great ideas never reach fruition as innovators don’t have the initial funds to develop a POC.”

According to the organization, the Pistoia Alliance Innovation Seed Fund has already received a number of “innovative proposals that help patients gain more control over their healthcare journeys. Innovations such as new ways of conducting clinical trials are in demand by industry and patients alike—for example, initiatives like wearable devices for clinical trials, connecting patients directly to clinical trials and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, diagnostics in the home and telemedicine aids.”

Pistoia noted that projects such as these highlight the importance and value of the its connected ecosystem of biopharma and healthcare members.

“The Innovation Seed Fund is to help advance ideas, develop strong business cases and drive wider membership engagement into these projects,” stated Kathy Gibson, innovation and investment advisor at the Pistoia Alliance. “In this digital age, there are so many opportunities to enhance the patient experience; this fund helps to make these initiatives feasible, lowering the risk and costs for individual businesses. On average, a quarter of startups fail in the first year [and we are] dedicated to preventing this from happening to innovations that can empower patients and improve healthcare and biopharma for all.”

Jeffrey Bouley

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