AVX August 2021 Update

Ahmet-Hamdi Cavusoglu

August 1, 2021

Hello again and welcome to August! The past month continues the brisk pace of fundraising for both start-ups and VC funds - leading some to wonder if the past hypothesis of who were first-check/lead VCs were wrong as capital becomes more of a commodity. And as more money is raised, more is being spent on jobs as the war for talents heats up during what is being called the 'Great Resignation'. Hopefully this puts more fuel on the fire to help encourage more scientists and researchers to start new ventures of their own! (Perhaps you prefer some suggestions in a mixtape format? Got that too!) In other news, IBM and the New York Academy of Sciences are developing an International Science Reserves and the Open Cap Table Coalition came out of 'stealth' this week - two big efforts to impact the scientific and venture space to keep your eyes on.

In the rest of this newsletter, I will highlight some of our progress at AVX, highlight a few (digital) events from around the network, and some think pieces to examine.

A few upcoming deadlines for the AVX community:

  1. IndieBio is a leading life science accelerator, investing in over 160 companies across human and planetary health. Our 4-month acceleration program includes $525K funding, dedicated mentorship, and fully-equipped laboratories in San Francisco and New York. During the program, teams are focused on turning science into product, closing customers, and raising investment. Fall application deadline: Aug 15th.
  2. Endless Frontier Labs (EFL) helps startups scale through a nine-month performance-based mentoring process. EFL is open to early-stage science and technology startups looking to raise a Seed or Series A round over the course of the program. The program is suitable for founders from around the world seeking connections to the U.S. ecosystem. EFL is accepting applications through Friday, August 6th, 2021. If you’d like to learn more, please join us for an upcoming info session or contact us at info@endlessfrontierlabs.com
  3. Berkeley SkyDeck is industry agnostic and welcomes founders who believe their ideas can change the world and become the next moonshot. SkyDeck offers a 6-month acceleration program, access to a network of 350+ exceptional advisors/mentors, a $105,000 investment, and access to UC Berkeley faculty and talent–including the global network of 510,000 living Berkeley alumni. Startups are eligible if they have a team member (founder, employee, advisor) that is either affiliated with any of the 10 University of California campuses or is an international founder looking to bring their business to the US. Applications for Batch 13 are now open! Apply today at https://bit.ly/380tgit
  4. Counterfactual Ventures leverages emerging technologies and synthesizes insights across the protein value chain to build startups that create a climate-positive, humane and secure future of food. We offer scientists and technical domain experts a maximally supportive environment in which to launch high-growth, high-impact startups, with a focus on alternative protein technology platforms, enablement businesses, market catalysts, and push technologies. We're seeking founders to co-create our first four companies and will support successful applicants in finding their ideal co-founder(s), provide $300,000 of pre-seed capital, and six months of tailored incubation to accelerate market and investment readiness. Learn more and apply before August 15th to be considered for the first cohort.
  5. BioFoundry trains biopharma startup founders to lead teams, pitch investors, and approach partners with confidence. And applications are live for biopharma startups! We focus on the business side of building your business – from investors to pharma companies to hiring. Learn more about the program, our requirements, and how to apply here: https://www.venturelink.org/biofoundry
  6. SciFounder Fellowship is a program to help early career scientists start companies of their own. We believe that companies can often be the best way to pursue translational research, and not enough scientists consider this as a serious option. The Fellowship program provides a cash investment of $400,000 to each founding team to get started, along with mentorship and a peer-network of other scientists starting companies to help support you. Our second application cycle ends August 15.

With our updated interface, you can see all ventures here: AVX Feed

Conversation Statistics

We are up to 13,461 total connections and conversations on the AVX network - 552 more over the last month (4% month over month growth). We are currently tracking 22 potential match negotiations and another 102 with multi-month long discussions heading toward possible matches. We have now actively connected 593 different ventures (out of 1770+ examined) with 1382 different entrepreneurs and investors (out of a pool of 3200+)

Top Digital Events

Aug 3: Fireside Chat with Biotech/Healthcare VC Dave Allison, 5AM Ventures 5AM Ventures is a leading venture capital firm focused on building next-generation life science companies. In this fireside interview, Dave will speak about the venture capital scene in the hot life sciences sector and how 5AM invests. Hear about the criteria he looks for, what makes a company appealing and how to get noticed among the thousands of emails 5AM receives every year. Find out when in a startup's life cycle you should connect and how to best approach the firm.

Aug 29: NSIN presents: AI for Command Challenge NSIN, in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate is seeking novel AI-based techniques that push the state of the art to compete in the AI for Command Challenge. Open to all Innovators. The need for planning is a fundamental task required to support large-scale and complex operations. This challenge is in support of the AI for Command AFVentures Technology Focus Areas. Toward this goal, this challenge specifically seeks to engage industry to take the first steps and develop AI agents. The challenge is built on the commercial game Command: Modern Operations. Through a series of scenarios this challenge hopes to excite and foster new innovations in the world of AI for planning.

DIGITAL EVENTS

Some Thought Pieces

Last month, TenU hosted an excellent panel discussing the finer points of academic spin-off creation. TenU is a transatlantic collaboration formed to capture effective practices in research commercialisation and share these with UK and US governments and higher education communities, in order to increase the societal impact of research. (The same group that provided guidance on university equity stakes in venture spin-outs last month) They provided four key messages for people to take home. 1) Collaboration is at the heart of ongoing successful regional initiatives and has been accelerated through the pandemic, 2) Building capacity is as much about building and strengthening networks as it is about acquiring skills, 3) Creating place is part and parcel of building and retaining an entrepreneurial community, and 4) There is no one-size-fits-all in technology transfer, but there is one goal: taking the best science to the next stage to create societal impact.

Aug 6 Update 1: On other interesting trends, I'd encourage a look at Y Combinator where they recently launched a new Co-Founder Matching Platform. Yes, the same Y Combinator where Paul Graham has stated "Cofounder dating" is a bad idea. Cofounders should be friends before starting the company. Though the ecosystem has changed a lot since 2017 - CoFoundersLab acquired FounderDating, Stealth launched out of, well, stealth, tools/communities like Lunchclub, Orbiit, BIOS, and On Deck Fellowships have arrived providing people the opportunity to find new colleagues, advisors, investors, and potential co-founders. And don't forget that it might be good to have some structured questions as you meet that new potential business partner (as one might for a romantic partner). So, welcome to the club!

Aug 6 Update 2: Recently, I recently spoke with Max Finder of Bountiful.work on his podcast about AVX, then team DNA of strong research-based university spinoff companies, as well as some advice to young entrepreneurs and researchers who want to lead or join these initiatives (YouTube, Apple, Spotify, Google). And if you are tired of my own voice, be sure to check out the episodes with Fernando Gómez-Baquero, Alex Wright-Gladstein, Carl Schoellhammer, Ofra Weinberger, and others! Thank you Max!

Still looking for more? How about two trifectas?

First trifecta of odd thoughts: 1) "He couldn’t get over his fiancee’s death. So he brought her back as an A.I. chatbot", 2) Winston Churchill predicted artificial wombs and lab-grown meat, and 3) YouTuber Won $10,000 Bet With a Physicist Over Wind-Powered Vehicle.

Finally, I have followed an interesting trifecta of topics dealings with unexpected endings: 1) RIP Biz Markie, 2) 'We all quit' (I guess the Burger King bathroom is now closed), and 3) Dead Startup Toys.

As always, thank you for reading – Hamdi