MassBio® Launches First MassCONNECT® Mentorship Cycle of 2021 with Three Life Sciences Startups

Feb 26, 2021

Entrepreneurs presented their ideas and technologies to industry leaders at opening showcase

February 26, 2021 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) – This week, MassBio®’s MassCONNECT®, the only mentoring program in Massachusetts that is solely dedicated to serving the needs of early-stage entrepreneurs in the life sciences, launched its first mentorship cycle of 2021 with a virtual opening showcase. During the event, the three chosen life sciences startups showcased their ideas and technologies to prospective mentors for early feedback. A testament to the immense degree of innovation cultivated within Massachusetts’ early-stage ecosystem, these startups are focused on developing a silicon nanotechnology to measure protein concentrations, supporting the immune system to treat chronic inflammatory diseases, and accelerating and de-risking effective treatments for rare genetic diseases.

“As the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts’ startup ecosystem continues to innovate to address not only the ongoing public health crisis, but a vast array of unmet medical needs faced by patients everywhere,” said Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, President & COO, MassBio. “We are excited to welcome this new cohort of entrepreneurs and provide leading expertise to support them along their path to commercialization as they seek to reach patients in need.”

Bayer and Morgan Stanley are the Premier Supporter Sponsors of MassCONNECT. Troutman Pepper is the Cycle Sponsor and Evaluate is an In-Kind Sponsor.

“This is our fourth year partnering with MassBio on the MassCONNECT program. Contributing to the thriving ecosystem in Massachusetts is a priority for Bayer, and we are honored to continue to support, partner with, and invest in people behind some of the most exciting science happening in the world today,” said Chandra Ramanathan, Global Head of Pharma R&D Open Innovation, Bayer. “By cultivating the talents of scientists and entrepreneurs, we hope to inspire the next generation of leaders to bring new treatments to patients.”

“Morgan Stanley is honored to sponsor the MassCONNECT program and to support the important work this cohort of entrepreneurs is undertaking to address some of the world’s most challenging health needs,” said Ron Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s New England Region. “As MassBio’s preferred financial partner, Morgan Stanley has the privilege to use our experience, scale, and expertise to holistically support early-stage companies in realizing their fullest potential.”

“Building a solid financial base in the early stages of a company is critical to its long-term viability. Cash management, employee financial wellness and retirement plans, and equity compensation, are just a few examples of considerations for startups,” said Al Hammond, Institutional Consulting Director, Graystone Consulting, Morgan Stanley. “We hope our support for their financial services needs can help free up these entrepreneurs to focus on the science that will change the world for the better.”

“Each year the MassCONNECT program introduces us to innovative and inspiring entrepreneurs who are developing cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to make a significant impact in the life sciences industry, and ultimately in improving our quality of life and actually saving lives,” said Steve London, Partner, Troutman Pepper. “We welcome the opportunity to mentor these startups and guide them on the development of their plans and strategy. We are proud to continue our support of the MassCONNECT program and MassBio.”

“We’re excited to continue our support of the MassCONNECT program,” said Sean Crowley, Director of New Business Development at Evaluate. “Each new cycle advances life-changing ideas and innovative technologies, and we look forward to helping these entrepreneurs develop their path to the market.”

The entrepreneurs will be paired with a tailored team of expert mentors for eight weeks of hands-on coaching as they develop business plans, launch companies, and raise capital. The entrepreneurs will then present in front of potential investors and partners during a closing event.

The selected startups are:

Advanced Silicon Group 
Co-founders: Marcie Black, PhD; Bill Rever, MSE, MBA 

Advanced Silicon Group is developing a silicon nanowire biosensor to measure protein concentrations rapidly, at a low-cost, and to measure many proteins at the same time. 

Promakhos Therapeutics Inc. 
Co-founders: Katerina Chatzi, PhD; Jasper Edgar Neggars, PhD 

Promakhos Therapeutics Inc. is developing orally bioavailable therapies to restore immune homeostasis in chronic inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease. 

Unravel Biosciences 
Co-founders: Richard Novak, PhD; Frederic Vigneault, PhD; Michael Levin, PhD; Donald Ingber, MD, PhD 

Unravel Biosciences combines target-agnostic AI drug prediction with cognitive and behavioral screening to accelerate and de-risk effective treatments for patients living with rare genetic diseases. 

To learn more about the MassCONNECT program, please visit:

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