Celebrating 10 Years of MassCONNECT Mentorship

Feb 06, 2020

By John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer, and Rachele Ryan, Manager of MassCONNECT at MassBio

Great entrepreneurs deserve great mentors. Both were present on December 18th when MassBio convened 200 leaders in the Massachusetts innovation ecosystem to showcase the graduates of MassCONNECT® 2019 and celebrate the 10th anniversary of MassCONNECT.

For their meritorious service and invaluable contributions in creating, launching, and shaping MassCONNECT from humble origins to become the premier mentoring program in life sciences, we honored Imran Nasrullah of Boehringer Ingelheim, Rakhshita Dhar of Roche, and Anna Christo of GLG. We also honored Reid Leonard of Werewolf Therapeutics, Pravin Chaturvedi of Oceanyx Pharmaceuticals, and John Hession of Morse Law as noble friends, mentors, and supporters for their unflagging support and beneficence to MassCONNECT and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The launch of MassCONNECT is remarkable when you consider the entrepreneurial environment in 2010 when Imran conceived the program. There were no mentoring programs dedicated to the life sciences. The Great Recession officially ended in September of 2010, but the economy was lagging, unemployment was high, Class A lab rates in Kendall Square were just north of $50, and the Kendall Square lab vacancy rate was 12%. In 2010, there were few incubators. MBI had been in operation since the late ’90s, while M2D2 launched in 2011, Harvard Innovation Lab launched in 2011, and LabCentral officially opened in 2013. MassCONNECT was launched in 2010 with 14 mentors.

“After the financial crisis of 2007-08, the MassBio Board became concerned that the innovation pipeline in Massachusetts would dry up. The IPO market was stalled, and venture capital investment had slowed, both of which were critical funding opportunities for biotech startups. We asked ourselves, what’s absent in this ecosystem that could help startups succeed, beyond financial support? The answer was mentorship and a deep network to support deal-making between big pharma and biotech. MassCONNECT became a critical component to strengthening the entire life sciences cluster in Massachusetts, bringing entrepreneurs the collective expertise of the ecosystem to accelerate innovation.”

– Imran Nasrullah, founder of MassCONNECT

Today, we are proud to note that MassCONNECT graduates – from a pre-seed state – have raised more than $150 million, received 15 golden tickets, and secured 50 partnerships with Pharma/MedTech. The mentor pool has grown to 200 industry veterans that can be defined as the unabridged Wikipedia of life sciences. We thank the 40+ mentors who provided the gift of their time and perspective to MassCONNECT in 2019.

The Innovation Services programs represent a unique platform to source, accelerate, partner, and fund early-stage innovation. As we enter 2020, we pledge to act as a constant catalyst in the innovation ecosystem. We pledge our assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs who are developing therapeutics, devices, diagnostics, and digital health solutions on behalf of patients. We pledge to continue our support of MassCONNECT graduates. 

In 2020, we will expand our efforts to construct a sustainable bridge between academia and industry. We’re thrilled to announce MassCONNECT.DH, a spinoff of MassCONNECT specifically dedicated to support the growth and success of digital health startups, and the first major initiative under MassBio’s digital health umbrella, MassBio.DH.

If you are interested in applying for the MassCONNECT program or interested in sponsoring or becoming a mentor, please contact Rachele Ryan.

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