MassBio® Welcomes Four Life Sciences and Digital Health Startups to Participate in Final 2019 MassCONNECT® Mentorship Cycle

Oct 03, 2019

Entrepreneurs presented their ideas and technology to industry experts and prospective mentors

October 3, 2019 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) — 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, yesterday kicked off its third and final cycle of 2019 with a technology showcase. During the event, the four selected life sciences and digital health startups showcased their technologies to a room of seasoned industry experts and potential mentors for early feedback. A testament to the immense innovation cultivated in Massachusetts, this cycle’s group is focused on developing first-in-class oral therapeutics to address barrier-dysfunction diseases; an image-guided suturing device to simplify and reduce costs of endoscopic procedures and care; technology for early detection and treatment of eye disease; and commercializing a novel drug discovery platform for the rapid identification of oncology therapeutics. 

This MassCONNECT cycle is being sponsored by Haug Partners and Boehringer Ingelheim. Evaluate is an in-kind sponsor of this cycle.

“Haug Partners is delighted to sponsor this new cycle of the MassCONNECT mentoring program,” said John Dougherty, managing partner of Haug Partners’ Boston office.  “The road to commercial success in our sector can be daunting, and requires smart decision-making on financing, IP, regulatory, clinical, and partnering and commercial strategies.  MassCONNECT’s track record of matching innovators and entrepreneurs with seasoned life science professionals is outstanding, and we look forward to another great cycle,” said Dougherty.

“Fostering the next generation of scientific leaders and entrepreneurs is vital to sparking the breakthroughs of the future and MassCONNECT is paramount to making this happen,” said Ioannis Sapountzis, Ph.D., Global Head of Business Development & Licensing, Boehringer Ingelheim. “Boehringer Ingelheim is proud to yet again sponsor this visionary program and ensure that the innovation ecosystem can continue to flourish in Massachusetts and beyond.”

“Evaluate is proud to continue our sponsorship of the MassCONNECT program,” said Deborah Kobewka, CEO of Evaluate Ltd. “We look forward to providing the market insights to help these life sciences innovators pursue their full potential and deliver improved options to the patients that need them.”

Following this week’s showcase, entrepreneurs will be paired with a team of mentors, based on their individual objectives and needs, for eight weeks of hands-on coaching as they seek to develop business plans, launch companies and raise capital. The startups will then present in front of potential investors and partners.

The applicants chosen for the final mentorship round of 2019 are:

Artus Therapeutics

Co-founders: Sakthimala Jagadeesan PhD; Fred Ausubel PhD; Sid Ahmed Labed PhD; Praveen Vemula, PhD; & Venkatakrishna Rao Jala PhD

Artus Therapeutics is a preclinical stage company developing first-in-class oral therapeutics to address barrier-dysfunction diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, alcoholic liver disease, and non-alcoholic liver disease.

Envision Endoscopy

Co-founders: Azadeh Khanicheh, PhD; Isaac Ostrovsky, MS; Christopher Thompson, MD

EnVision Endoscopy is developing a novel image guided suturing device that will allow endoluminal tissue approximation and closure in the gastrointestinal tract to simplify endoscopic procedures and reduce cost of care.


Co-founders: Matteo Tomasi, PhD; Shrinivas Pundlik, PhD; Kevin Houston, OD; Gang Luo, PhD.

EYEnexo is a digital health company developing technology for early detection and treatment of eye diseases. Its first products are systems clinically validated system to identify impaired visual function and neurological conditions affecting the eyes.  

Trilogy Sciences

Founder: Neil Dhawan, PhD

Trilogy Sciences is a chemical biology company that has created a novel drug discovery platform via the seamless integration of structure-based design, combinatorial chemistry, and automated biophysics for the rapid identification of first-in-class oncology therapeutics.

“We want to welcome Artus, Envision, EYENexo, and Trilogy into MassCONNECT Cycle III and the MassCONNECT community,” said John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer, MassBio. “We were inspired by their commitment to address unmet medical need and are honored to support them as they patrol and expand the boundaries of innovation on behalf of patients. MassBio launched MassCONNECT in 2010 during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and it started with a handful of industry mentors. As we look ahead to the MassCONNECT showcase and 10th Anniversary celebration, we are proud to note that the MassCONNECT mentor pool has expanded greatly and represents the Wikipedia of life sciences. What hasn’t changed is our unwavering commitment to research, innovation, and patients.”


MassBio’s MassCONNECT program is the only entrepreneur mentorship program in Massachusetts that dives deep into the life sciences. MassCONNECT matches entrepreneurs and founders with seasoned life sciences professionals to catalyze and commercialize innovation. The MassCONNECT process involves a two-month mentorship where industry experts guide entrepreneurs as they seek to develop business plans, launch companies, and raise capital. MassCONNECT mentors evaluate and provide feedback on commercial feasibility; identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and team up to furnish industry-specific business advice for innovative ideas in therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices and health IT. Entrepreneurs gain invaluable advice and coaching on defining value proposition, developing pitches and building professional networks. For more information, or to apply to be a mentor, mentee or MBA project manager, visit

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