Program Design

Following a competitive process, early-stage life science companies led by underrepresented entrepreneurs will receive a yearlong customized package of support, which includes non-dilutive grant funding and access to a network of seasoned Executive and Business Coaches. Throughout the year, the awardees will work to refine their business strategies and build a toolkit to more effectively raise capital.

Specifically, this year’s competition will award:

  • Funding up to $100,000 per awardee, which may include in-kind support from program sponsors. MLSC has the sole discretion to decide the number and size of award(s) based on the quality of applicants and funding available.
  • Coaching from a network of seasoned entrepreneurs, executive coach, sponsors, and life science investors.
  • Visibility within the life science industry including press and media coverage of the company and entrepreneur.
  • A “pitch” event for awardees to highlight their company to sponsors, entrepreneurial community, and investors at the conclusion of the program.

Program Eligibility

Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • The Applicant’s Life Science company (“Company”) must be located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and registered to do business in Massachusetts. A Certificate of Good Standing from the Massachusetts Secretary of State and Certificate of Good Standing from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue are required for the submission.
  • The Company must be led by an underrepresented entrepreneur (“Applicant”) that identifies as: Arab American, Middle Eastern and North African American; Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Native Hawaiian; Black, African American, or Afro Caribbean; Female; Hispanic, Hispanic American, or Latinx/Latin; Indigenous, Native American, or First Nation; LGBTQIA+; Living with apparent or non-apparent disability; Neurodiverse; Refugee, Immigrant, or Migrant; Socially disadvantaged; Veteran or another underrepresented group in the CEO or equivalent position (e.g., President).
  • The Applicant must be open to executive coaching, including receiving critique and feedback, and must commit to attending executive and business coaching sessions in MA throughout the year-long program.
  • The Company must have the majority of its FTEs (full-time-equivalent employees, >35 hours per week) based in Massachusetts and must have a minimum of 1 FTE. The entrepreneur does not need to collect a salary from the Company but must spend >35 hours per week working for the Company.
  • The Company must have a life sciences focus with core technology and/or service in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical diagnostics or imaging, bioinformatics, digital health, agricultural biotechnology, chemical synthesis and/or technology, genomics, marine biology or technology, nanotechnology, drug delivery, proteomics, regenerative medicine, and/or veterinary science.
  • Total dilutive financing (from angel investors, venture capitalists, or institutional investors) raised by the Company can’t exceed $5M.
  • The Company must be in compliance with all other MLSC agreements, if any.

Review Process

  1. An initial administrative screening of each application will be conducted by the MLSC’s staff. The MLSC reserves the right to ask the applicant to provide more information or clarification at any stage of the process.
  2. Applications will be reviewed by coaches, sponsors, and external experts.
  3. Selected finalist Companies will be invited to meet with the judging panel to present their business plan and address questions or provide clarification. The MLSC will notify such Companies in advance and provide additional instructions.
  4. Final recommendations on Applicants will be brought to MLSC’s Board of Directors for approval (“Awardees”).

Review Criteria

Applications will be reviewed based on the following categories:

Diversity of the company leadership and team

  • Diversity of the management team, advisory board, founders, etc.
  • The role(s) that diverse team members are playing in developing and executing the core strategy of the Company
  • Demonstrated commitment to maintaining diverse leadership in the Company including building out diverse management teams and Boards

Proposed use of grant money

  • Milestone(s) that grant money would enable Company to reach
  • Importance of milestone to Company’s overall success
  • Potential for cost-sharing grant money with other sources

Feasibility of business plan

  • Value proposition of technology and degree of differentiation from standard of care/current solutions
  • Level of unmet need that the technology addresses
  • Understanding of addressable market and commercial opportunity
  • Commercialization plan including clinical, regulatory, pricing and reimbursement strategies
  • Fundraising strategy with respect to near-term milestones and long-term goals
  • Potential partnerships and exit strategy

Ability to leverage executive coaching

  • Role that executive coaching would serve for the underrepresented entrepreneur and their Company
  • Commitment to receiving feedback and critique from executive coaches
  • Willingness to engage in coaching sessions and other potential coaching opportunities


  • The MLSC will provide select awardees a grant of up to $100,000, which may include in-kind support from program sponsors, to be utilized over a period of no more than twelve months.
  • Eligible expenses are direct costs related to the project and may include salary support with fringe rate not to exceed 30% of the requested salary, legal expenses, publication fees, clinical trials, consultants, materials, supplies, purchase of capital equipment, and project-related travel (up to 10%). Non-fundable expenses include paying off debt, paying board members, paying for operating costs, such as rent and utilities, and activities funded by other funding sources.
  • Following execution of the grant agreement, funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis to the Awardees based on the terms of the Grant Agreement.
  • The MLSC reserves the right to adjust the requested amount of funding for each proposal.