Life Sciences Fellowship 

A full-time, two-year program that provides experiential learning in research and development (R&D) commercialization/startup creation for life sciences entrepreneurs. 

Expected Outcomes
Fellows are expected to:

  • Develop executive-level experience by launching and growing a Digital Health or Life Sciences startup; and 
  • Learn how to translate R&D into a commercially viable product or service.

Funding and Support

  • Up to $200,000 in startup funding, including a $55,000/year stipend for the Fellow.
  • Professional Development programming to rapidly upskill Fellows on how to navigate the commercialization process and attract more investment.
  • Mentorship from Expert Advisors.
  • Access to equipped life sciences laboratory space in the Life Sciences Innovation Hub.

Applicant Eligibility
Entrepreneurially-inclined candidates with advanced knowledge or experience in the type of R&D to be commercialized - commonly obtained through an advanced degree (Masters or greater).

Candidates must be:

  • Legally eligible to work in Canada;
  • Able to participate full-time in the Fellowship for two years;
  • Reside in Alberta during the Fellowship and maintain a company presence or office at the Life Sciences Innovation Hub.

Project/Startup Eligibility
The project must have a compelling plan for leveraging R&D to a create health-related product or service. A new company must be formed during the Fellowship, with the Fellow as the founding CEO or founding senior-level executive.

Project/Startup must:

  • Demonstrate the ability and intent to transfer R&D to the company;
  • Have a tangible plan for commercialization above R&D generation and publication;
  • Have a focus on digital health and life sciences (healthcare, veterinary medicine, agriculture, and health and wellness);
  • Be a project that is not a well-established company. Specifically, projects that have been incorporated and have had substantial business activity before July 1, 2020, are ineligible.

A total of six Fellowships will be awarded - four for digital health, and two life sciences.

Selection Criteria
Fellows are selected on relevancy (to digital health/life sciences), differentiation/potential for intellectual property, the viability of the technology, market viability, and talent readiness (capacity of the applicant to lead, grow, and represent the company).

Applications are now closed. 

Cohort 3 Process 

For questions about the program contact Jane Desrochers at jdesrochers@innovatecalgary.com.

The Life Sciences Startup Fellowship is made possible in part through the support from Calgary Economic Development's Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Western Economic Diversification, and Alberta Innovates.

POPULAR QUESTIONS

Are there any requirements for equity ownership in the startup?

The Fellow must have a meaningful equity stake in the new venture, specifically, at least a simple majority of the shares outstanding. There can be multiple co-founders, but the Fellow must have the largest ownership of shares.

I’m from outside of Alberta. In light of COVID-19, is a transition period possible before having to relocate to Calgary?

We recognize the current challenges surrounding relocation and are flexible to exploring a transition period before having to relocate. We are available to discuss your concerns.

What are the program objectives?

Program Objectives:

  • Develop executive-level entrepreneurial talent that can create and grow startups; and 
  • Strengthen and grow Alberta's Digital Health and Life Sciences ecosystem.
How is the program funded?

The Life Sciences Innovation Hub's programming is funding in part through the generous support from Calgary Economic Development's Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, Alberta Economic Development and Trade, and Western Economic Diversification.

Alberta Innovates partnered with Innovate Calgary to design and fund a third round of the Life Sciences Startup Fellowship with a focus on increasing entrepreneurial capacity and startup creation in areas of strategic importance to Alberta (e.g. Digital Health).

 

What can the Life Sciences Fellowship startup spend the monies on?

The stipend must cover the Life Sciences Fellow's salary. The startup funds can include expenses relating to the business: operational expenses, intellectual property, prototyping, and market development costs. There are some exclusions, including capital purchases, journal fees, degree or certification costs. Full details are outlined in the Life Sciences Participation Agreement.

The stipend and reimbursement for eligible expenses are transferred monthly to the Life Sciences Fellowship company.

To request a copy of the Participation Agreement, email Jim Wilson at jwilson@innovatecalgary.com

 

What will Life Sciences Fellows do during the Fellowship?

The Life Sciences Fellows will work full-time in their startup working towards the outcomes listed earlier, including business development, customer discovery, market research, business planning, financial modelling, and building the team and advisors. Additionally, it may include continued research and development, or clinical trials.

Approximately one day per month is allocated for Professional Development workshops.

How long is the Life Sciences Fellowship?

The Fellowship is two years in duration, starting in January 2021. Fellows participate full-time for two years. The Fellowship may be terminated if: the Fellow can no longer participate full-time;  the startup is acquired without the Fellow continuing in a leadership role; the activity of the Fellow or company diverges from the program objectives, or the Fellow decides to terminate. Funding ceases when the Fellowship is terminated.

Who are the Expert Advisors?

Life Sciences Fellows will have access to up to 100 hours per year of consulting and mentorship from an Expert Advisors group. These advisors have extensive business experience and connections within the life sciences sector, with expertise in regulatory, finance, marketing, governance, business strategy, communications, and more.  

Review our Expert Advisor list here

What is the application process?

Applications for the third cohort of the Life Sciences Fellowship program can be submitted online.

Application deadline: Midnight (MST) Sept 15, 2020.

Do I need to have an affiliation with the University of Calgary? Can others from outside of the University of Calgary apply?

No. You do not need to be affiliated with the University of Calgary and yes, we welcome applicants from out of province, other institutions, and the broader community.

I am currently working with another accelerator or other institute, can I apply?

Yes. We are open to collaborating with others to best support the development of life science startups.

I am not a digital health company, can I still apply?

Yes. We are accepting applications for a broad range of life sciences applicants. Some awards will be specific to digital health, however, others will be awarded for general life sciences applicants.

What does the Fellowship include?

The Fellowship provides $200,000 of funding allocated as:

  • $55,000/yr stipend for the Fellow for two (2) years
  • $5,000/yr for Employment Insurance (EI) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions for the Fellow for two (2) years
  • $68,000 of funding for the startup company ("Eligible Expenses")
  • $12,000 to support membership fees for the Life Sciences Innovation Hub, covering lab and desk space, professional development workshops, and expert advisor mentorship.
Will a Life Sciences Fellow be an employee?

The Life Sciences Startup Fellowship program is structured around the creation and growth of a startup. As such, Fellows will need to incorporate a company with the Fellow serving as a founding CEO, or senior-level executive.

If the company is incorporated provincially, or nationally, it must reside in Alberta. The Fellow is not an employee of Innovate Calgary, or the Life Sciences Innovation Hub. The Fellow is an employee of the startup.

What are the Professional Development Workshops?

The Life Sciences Fellowship includes Professional Development workshops to provide an experiential learning framework to help Fellows manage the startups’ launch and growth.

Workshops are prepared by experts in R&D commercialization and company creation.  Topics include: ·  

  • Intellectual Property
  • Design and Quality - clinical trials, regulatory planning, and quality management
  • Business Functions - communications, corporate structure
  • Investment - pitch training, investment readiness
  • Life Sciences Community - network, collaboration
  • Market and Competition

The format for professional development will be workshop-based, followed by company-specific milestones and mentorship.

Do I get access to a lab?

Yes. The Life Sciences Fellowship startup company has access to one desk and bench space in a shared laboratory at the Life Sciences Innovation Hub. Review the LSI Hub Equipment List

Life Sciences Fellows are expected to locate their companies in the Life Sciences Innovation Hub in Calgary.

Does Innovate Calgary take equity?

Participation in the Fellowship program itself does not have any equity, royalty, or repayment obligations to Innovate Calgary or the University of Calgary.

However, it is common to transfer intellectual property into the startup company. If the intellectual property originates at the University of Calgary, then the startup must meet the revenue-sharing obligations as stated in the University of Calgary’s Intellectual Property Policy. Similarly, if the Life Sciences startup company acquires intellectual property from another institution, it will have to comply with that institute’s policy.  The company must meet any revenue sharing obligations within 90 days of signing the Participation Agreement unless otherwise agreed to by Innovate Calgary.

What are the Selection Criteria?

Applications will be reviewed by a Selection Panel based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance: extent to which the proposal has an apparentdigital health or life sciences focus.
  • Differentiation: extent to which the technology is different from existing approaches with existing or planned intellectual property.
  • Viability of Technology: extent to which the proposed product or service is technically viable with some early demonstration, perhaps in a laboratory setting or as a prototype.
  • Market Viability: extent to which the proposed product or service is commercially viable with anticipated customers and sufficient market size to support commercial activity.
  • Talent Readiness: extent to which the candidate has: i) the expertise to develop the technology towards a product or service;  ii) clear entrepreneurial aims, and iii) capacity to lead and professionally represent the proposed company to customers and investors.

Life Sciences Fellows creates impact through startup creation

Program helps develop research-intensive science into viable companies

Read article