Empowering young scientists to uncover their entrepreneurial potential

Explore a startup opportunity with guidance from leading venture capital funds and entrepreneurs

Spring 2019 program: March-May 2019

Sign up to receive the syllabus and application when released in February

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Our Fall 2017 cohort after our last VC visit

Empowering Bay Area grad students and postdocs to uncover their entrepreneurial potential

We have done two programs so far with 17 "alumni" from Berkeley, Stanford and UCSF. Roughly half are PhD students and half are postdocs.

Program goals

Startups with a safety net

See whether starting a company is right for you through a hands-on, experiential learning process.

Learn how investors think

Learn how investors and entrepreneurs evaluate science, build companies and raise money. We bring in a few successful entrepreneurs to give guest lectures, and you will get feedback on your projects from several leading VCs.

Build relationships

Connect with leading investors and experienced entrepreneurs -- and the scientists in your cohort. Many alums build on these relationships after the program ends. A few alums have received job offers from venture funds we met during the program and from their portfolio companies.

Program structure: 10-week program

Lecture / guest speaker series

Every week we have a two-hour lecture, often with a guest speaker. Past speakers range from entrepreneurs who've started multiple billion-dollar companies to entrepreneurs who raised $10M+ before finishing their PhD.

Startup project and VC visits

Teams of ~3-4 students / postdocs explore a startup opportunity with feedback from VCs. At the beginning of the program, a VC will "seed" teams with a topic they find interesting, and over the next ~8 weeks teams will turn that idea into a pitch for a hypothetical startup. Every 1.5-2 weeks, we will visit a different venture fund and get feedback on the projects.

Who would benefit?

The program is designed for Bay Area grad students and postdocs, especially those in molecular and cell biology or bioengineering programs, who are interested, or think they might be interested, in startups and VC.

No prior experience in biotech is required. To keep everyone on a level playing field, we don't allow anyone to work on any of their own tech or IP during the program -- you will come up with your project ideas with your team, with guidance from VCs.

In the past, we've only accepted individual applicants, but we are considering letting teams of 3-4 apply together, in addition to accepting individual applications. If you are a team who would like to apply, please let us know.

Any level of interest in startups and VC is welcome, whether you are set on starting your own company, or whether you just want to dip your toe in the water. The program is designed to replicate the unstructured nature of starting a company -- we create checkpoints and guardrails to guide you, but most of the project work is self-directed.


Bay Bridge Bio is a completely free and independent program. We are not formally affiliated with any university, fund or company. The program was created by Richard Murphey while he was a grad student at Berkeley's Haas School of Business. Richard had worked in biopharma startups and VC before grad school, and created this program as something that he wished had existed when he was a student. You can read more about Richard and Bay Bridge Bio here.

See what else we're working on...

Bay Bridge Bio's goal is to help the next generation of biotech entrepreneurs create more high quality companies

We offer a number of programs and products to the biotech community (with more to come!)

Recent event: building and investing in biotech startups

Hear how top biotech VCs evaluate science and build companies

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Panel moderated by Michael Hostetler, WSGR:

  • David Allison, 5AM Ventures
  • Dan Becker, New Leaf Ventures
  • Sarah Bhagat, Sofinnova
  • Mira Chaurushiya, 5AM Ventures

Closing remarks by Karl Handelsman, Roche Venture Fund

Thanks to our sponsor, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Topics covered:

Overview of biotech venture capital

1:42 Panel start

2:56 Panelist introductions

15:00 How to get into venture

18:51 Getting in front of VCs

23:10 How early-stage funds source deals

25:12 How VCs start companies

30:14 Accelerators and incubators

What do VCs look for

31:29 What do late-stage funds look for?

33:07 What do early-stage funds look for?

34:33 What do VCs look for in a team?

37:39 How do VCs evaluate deals?

Advice for founders

42:06 Advice for first-time scientific founders

43:52 Value of grit

46:25 How to handle feedback

49:33 How long does it take VCs to make an investment?

Trends and opportunities

51:23 Interesting trends in biotech

52:07 Opportunities in CNS / neuro

55:37 Next-gen immuno-oncology

56:25 Getting to clinical proof of concept faster and cheaper

59:15 Precision medicine -- what it really means and why it matters

1:00:02 Programming organisms, new therapeutic modalities

1:00:42 Digital therapeutics -- need for evidence


1:02:45 What makes a great team?

1:07:38 Biotech VCs vs. angel investors

1:10:17 IP for early-stage companies

1:14:11 IP for late-stage companies

1:16:04 IP attorney's thoughts on startup IP

1:17:39 Valuing platforms vs products

Closing remarks: Karl Handelsman

1:23:31 The case for the entrepreneur

1:25:47 Lean startup principles applied to biotech


We'll be organizing more events for the Bay Area biopharma community, from happy hours to panel discussions