Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative receives $250,000 from Sanofi; Announcement made during event to promote women entrepreneurs in the life sciences industry
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced Sanofi as the newest funding partner for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s (MLSC) Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative (MassNextGen), a competitive program for women-led life sciences companies. Sanofi will contribute $250,000 to the public-private partnership. Baker-Polito Administration and Sanofi officials made the announcement during the MLSC’s A Pitch of Their Own event, which promotes women entrepreneurs in the life sciences community.
Launched in November 2017, MassNextGen identifies promising women-led life sciences companies and provides critical funding and access to a robust panel of executive coaches to ensure that they have important resources to succeed. The five-year commitment, which now stands as a $1.375M commitment which has grown to now include Sanofi ($250,000), also includes $875,000 in direct awards to participants, with funding from anchor partners, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and King Street Properties. An additional $500,000 in in-kind contributions will be provided for networking, professional development, and coaching support.
“Massachusetts is the proud home to one of the world’s leading life sciences ecosystems and our administration is committed to increasing workforce diversity and empowering more women entrepreneurs in the field,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Programs like MassNextGen are helping women-led life sciences companies grow, and we welcome Sanofi’s support for this important initiative.”
“We are thrilled to have a strong partner like Sanofi contribute to our administration’s efforts to encourage diversity in the life sciences and we look forward to collaborating with them,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Here in Massachusetts we are tackling this issue from multiple angles, such as investing in STEM-focused efforts and supporting business leaders like MassNextGen. Together, these efforts will help us enhance the diversity of Massachusetts companies and its workforce, for generations to come.”
Sanofi has long been committed to the ideals of inclusion and diversity, and is dependent on the diverse backgrounds and talents of its employees to be more innovative and effective in developing and delivering important medicines and health solutions for patients. Sanofi is Massachusetts largest life sciences employer, and is deeply invested in the state’s life sciences ecosystem. By fostering these important values through this MassNextGen initiative, Sanofi believes it will spur meaningful progress that will impact the entire health care industry.
“We recognize that in order to have a true effect on progress, each of us will need to extend beyond our own company walls to create an inclusive environment. An environment that encourages a broad spectrum of ideas and voices that will ensure the best science and ideas support the innovations of tomorrow,” said Muzammil Mansuri, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Sanofi.
In June 2018, the inaugural awardees for the MassNextGen initiative were announced. Five women-led companies were selected, representing a wide range of applications to improve human health. All five companies received access to a network of executive coaches for a year. Two of the awardees, Olaris Therapeutics, Inc. and Reveal Pharmaceuticals, Inc., received $62,500 in funding in addition to coaching.
“In order to retain our leadership post in the life sciences, we need to strategize and act boldly to further support diversity in the life sciences,” said MLSC President & CEO Travis McCready. “A strong life sciences ecosystem is a diverse one. Female entrepreneurs and the companies they lead are an essential pillar of our innovative and thriving sector.”
The MLSC has leveraged the region’s substantial network of seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and life science experts to create an executive coaching network that selects each year’s winners based on a set of criteria including, but not limited to, the level of involvement of women in the conception, strategy and execution of the company, the proposed use of funding and feasibility, and promise of the business plan and technology.
“The MassNextGen program has expanded my professional network and assisted in increasing the visibility of my company’s work in the ecosystem,” said Laura Indolfi, CEO of PanTher Therapeutics. “The research is clear: companies with more diverse leadership do better. Through this program, Massachusetts is demonstrating once again its pioneer role enabling that the success of women at all levels must be a touchstone of a thriving life sciences ecosystem. It is an honor to go through the program and learn from the highly talented fellow women selected.”
Sanofi’s announcement was made prior to the start of the MLSC’s A Pitch of Their Own event hosted by LabCentral in Cambridge. Female CEOs of 10 early-stage companies presented five minute pitches highlighting the groundbreaking innovations championed by women in Massachusetts.
“We’re encouraged by the quantity and caliber of entrepreneurs and companies we have been able to engage so far through this program,” said MLSC Vice President for Industry Programs & Relations Jennifer Griffin. “Together we are dispelling the hollow notion that there just aren’t enough female entrepreneurs and developing and executing new strategies to address persistent bias toward female entrepreneurs in our industry.”
Applications for the second year of the MassNextGen initiative are expected to launch in January 2019. The MLSC’s inaugural round received a total of 37 applications from women-led, early-stage life sciences companies. The applicants were located throughout the Commonwealth and represented a range of sectors within the life sciences industry.
This past June, Governor Baker signed An Act providing continued investment in the life sciences industry in the Commonwealth to invest up to $623 million in bond authorization and tax credits over five years in education, research and development, and workforce training. This legislation will serve to reinforce the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to ensuring Massachusetts’ leadership in the life sciences sector.
Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions.
With more than 100,000 people in 100 countries, Sanofi is transforming scientific innovation into healthcare solutions around the globe.
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About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is an economic development investment agency dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the life sciences in Massachusetts, home to the most verdant and productive life sciences ecosystem in the world. Through public-private funding initiatives, the MLSC supports innovation, research & development, commercialization, and manufacturing activities in the fields of biopharma, medical device, diagnostics, and digital health. Since its creation in 2007, the MLSC has strategically deployed over $677 million in Massachusetts, through a combination of grants, loans, capital infrastructure investments, tax incentives, and workforce programs. These investments have created thousands of jobs, and propelled the development of new therapies, devices, and scientific advancements that are improving patient health and well-being in Massachusetts and beyond.