BioEntrepreneurship Initiative to Fuel More Life Science Startups in New York State

BioEntrepreneurship Initiative to Fuel More Life Science Startups in New York State

The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University has announced a new BioEntrepreneurship initiative to connect MBA students and life science researchers to cutting-edge life science companies in New York state while catalyzing the formation of new life science startups. Funded by Empire State Development, the program aims to spur the growth of a statewide life science innovation cluster by connecting upstate and downstate researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators—solidifying New York as a global leader in life science innovation and a top spot for life science startups. 

“This initiative will help position New York State as a clear leader in life-sciences innovation,” said Mark Nelson, Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of Cornell’s Johnson School of Management. “Building on the cross-disciplinary strengths of Cornell, MBA students work with life-science and healthcare innovators on new ventures, supported by a carefully constructed educational platform and mentored by experienced and successful entrepreneurs. The resulting new ventures will contribute economically to New York state while bringing exciting new life-sciences innovations to market.” 

Up to 30 applicants will be selected in the first round of the program, including 15 MBA students and 15 clinicians, scientists, and engineers from a variety of Cornell’s schools such as Weill Cornell Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Engineering, and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Each Cornell BioEntrepreneurship fellow will receive a certificate from the Johnson Graduate School of Management after they complete 12 credits of coursework and participate in a series of intensive workshops. During the program, they will form small teams and focus on a single innovation for which they will create a business plan, assess their target market, and test their business models in real-world situations. 

“The BioEntrepreneurship fellows in this program will be addressing real-world challenges, making important connections, and bringing novel technologies to market, all while leveraging the strengths of Cornell’s many colleges and departments that are innovating in healthcare and the life sciences,” said Matt DeLisa, the William L. Lewis Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and director of Cornell’s Institute of Biotechnology.  

Startup founders, researchers, and leaders in New York’s current life sciences ecosystem will be connected to the BioEntrepreneurship fellows in a variety of ways: they will serve as guest speakers, providing education on commercialization; industry coaches, providing mentorship and introductions; advisory panel members, serving as a pseudo-board of directors holding the BioEntrepreneurship fellows accountable and providing feedback; and hosts for a series of trek visits to life science companies throughout the state.  

“The enthusiasm for this program among the New York life science community is beyond measure,” said Greg Ray, program lead for the BioEntrepreneurship initiative and instructor at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. “Countless alumni and friends of Cornell have offered to coach participants, share experiences, and host corporate visits. The BioEntrepreneurship fellows in this program will be uniquely positioned and supported to launch their own companies or lead the development of new innovations in growing life science firms upon completion of the program.” 

Cornell is uniquely positioned to manage this initiative as it leads the state in spending on life sciences research and development and ranks among the top 13 institutions nationwide.   

“Weill Cornell Medicine has an enduring legacy of innovation. It’s accomplished physicians and scientists catalyze research breakthroughs into new modalities and therapies that have the potential to transform human health,” said Barbara Hempstead, dean of the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and the O. Wayne Isom Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “The BioEntrepreneurship initiative will tap into that deep reservoir of expertise and provide program participants with a hands-on education—collaborating alongside their colleagues at the Ithaca campus—that will help them realize their entrepreneurial endeavors.” 

The SC Johnson College of Business, home to the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, boasts many nationally ranked programs and will leverage its breadth of business programs to further train fellows and help them design and launch businesses that can make an impact.  

Dean Andrew Karolyi of the SC Johnson College of Business shared, “starting a business based on an idea or invention from fields of science like biotechnology require huge investments, patience in the development time for making, say, vaccines, drugs or antibodies, a tolerance for risk and scientific uncertainty. Our MBA students in the Johnson School have the training and skills to meet such challenges. I am so pleased that the BioEntrepreneurship initiative will connect them with life science companies all across New York state. Important new biotech business ventures will blossom from this collaboration.” 

The initiative aligns with Cornell’s charge to support radical collaboration across disciplines, and among its campuses in Ithaca and New York City, to develop research-based solutions to real-world challenges.  

“We are generating world class technologies at Cornell and we need to develop world class management to make these technologies a reality in the market,” said David Putnam, associate dean for innovation and entrepreneurship at Cornell Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering and biomolecular engineering. “This grant, and the program it launches, is one step in creating a technology corridor between the Finger Lakes and Manhattan.” 

“The College of Veterinary Medicine is intent on creating educational opportunities for innovation-oriented students that encourage entrepreneurial advances within the animal health space,” said David Lee, associate dean for external programs and director of the Center for Veterinary Business and Entrepreneurship. “Continued interdisciplinary collaboration between the Veterinary College, the SC Johnson College of Business, and the broader Cornell community through the BioEntrepreneurship initiative is yet another perfect example of Cornell’s strengths coming together to achieve educational goals.”  

Applications for Cornell’s BioEntrepreneurship fellowship will open in the fall of 2021 and coursework will begin in the spring of 2022. Updates and more information can be found at  

About the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management 
Founded in 1946, Johnson is Cornell University’s graduate school of management. Consistently ranked as one of the top graduate schools of business, the Johnson School builds upon Cornell’s depth and breadth of distinguished research and teaching, and its vast, worldwide network of alumni, faculty, and colleagues. The school’s “performance learning” approach offers students defined frameworks and analytical tools, combined with expert feedback to solve real problems in real organizations. Deliberately small and extremely selective, the Johnson School maintains an intense, collaborative community, where students develop teamwork and networking skills that foster innovation and deliver results. Programs include one- and two-year MBA degrees, an Executive MBA and the Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA, which offers interactive videoconferencing sessions across the U.S. and Canada. For more about the Johnson School please visit: