How to Start a Life Science Company


A comprehensive guide that takes first-time entrepreneurs through every step of founding a life science company.

Scientists, engineers and healthcare professionals usually have very little business training. Therefore, if you make an exciting new discovery or have a brilliant idea on how to improve patient care, it can be very difficult to know how to turn that discovery or idea into a successful business.

Life science encompasses the biotech, medtech, digital health and healthcare sectors. Our industry is highly regulated because we develop products and services that affect people’s health. Life science entrepreneurs across all sectors face challenges that other entrepreneurs don’t face, including intellectual property (IP) ownership and protection, regulatory compliance, and long and expensive product development cycles. If you make your discovery while working at a university or research institute, you may not even own your work. Raising funding is another major challenge for life science entrepreneurs. Investors are understandably wary of startup companies, particularly of biotech startups. Nine out of ten startups fail. Less than 10% of Phase I clinical trial candidates are approved by the FDA.

I am a scientist and a veterinarian and so know first-hand how difficult it can be to assimilate into the startup world. It’s a whole new language and way of thinking. Since leaving the bench, I have worked as a freelance marketing consultant for startup companies and life science organizations. In this role, I have spoken and worked with hundreds of life science entrepreneurs. I am always struck by the similarities between their stories. Entrepreneurs with many different kinds of technologies and product, from diagnostics to oral vaccines to software that aids with clinical diagnosis of back pain, tell me the same things. They have a sort of blueprint of how a clinician or a scientist could found a successful life science company.

So, I decided to take this advice, along with a lot of research, and turn it into this book: a how-to guide for scientists, engineers, healthcare professionals and students who want to start a life science company. It covers the business basics that we didn’t have time to learn at university.

This book runs through how to decide whether your science can be commercialised, intellectual property protection, regulatory hurdles, how to find the right co-founders and how and when to incorporate. It also provides templates on how to write product development, marketing and business plans, and how to pitch to investors.

All terms that show up in bold are included in a glossary at the back of the book. I’ve also listed references and further resources, most of which are freely available, to help you on your entrepreneurship journey.


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