MassBio® Welcomes Three Life Sciences Startups to Participate in 2020’s Inaugural MassCONNECT® Mentorship Cycle

Feb 21, 2020

Entrepreneurs showcased their ideas and technologies to industry leaders at opening event.

February 21, 2020 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) – Last 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 2020 with an opening showcase. During the event, the three selected life sciences startups presented their ideas to a room of industry veterans and prospective members for early feedback. Products of Massachusetts’ vast innovation economy, this cycle’s cohort is focused on developing therapeutics for neglected and underserved needs of patients with respiratory rare disease; a novel kinase inhibitor to specifically target stomach cancer; and a drug delivery platform to improve oral bioavailability and accelerate clinical development of poorly soluble small molecule therapeutics.

Bayer and Nutter are sponsors of this MassCONNECT cycle.

“Bayer is excited to continue our partnership with the MassCONNECT program for the fourth year to advance patient-centric scientific ideas,” said Chandra Ramanathan, Global Head, Pharma R&D Open Innovation at Bayer. “As an active member of the Cambridge and Boston innovation community, we are proud to support and mentor entrepreneurs seeking new, efficient ways to develop better treatments for patients.”

 “We are delighted to meet the 2020 select group of life sciences entrepreneurs in the MassCONNECT program and to work with them to develop and implement a strategy that fits their technology and provides commercial opportunities,” said Kathy Williams, Ph.D., a partner in Nutter’s Intellectual Property Department and co-chair of the firm’s Life Sciences practice group. “It is fascinating to interact with a startup company at its inception, and to see it evolve over time under the guidance of the mentors.”   

The applicants chosen for mentorship are:

Blue BioSciences
Founder: Safia Rizvi, PhD, MBA
A pre-clinical stage biotechnology developing therapeutics for neglected and underserved needs of patients with Respiratory Rare Disease.

Signet Therapeutics
Co-Founders: Haisheng Zhang, PhD; Haijun Dong, PhD; Adam Bass, MD
Signet Therapeutics is developing a novel kinase inhibitor to specifically target diffuse stomach cancer.

Veramorph Materials
Founder: Doug Godfrin, PhD
Veramorph Materials is developing an all-in-one excipient as an oral dosage technology designed to improve oral bioavailability and accelerate clinical development of increasingly prevalent poorly soluble small molecule therapeutics.

“We are pleased to announce the launch of MassCONNECT Cycle I 2020 and welcome Blue BioSciences, Signet Therapeutics, and Veramorph Materials into the MassCONNECT community,” said John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer, MassBio. “MassCONNECT mentors have responded enthusiastically to the Cycle I cohort and we look forward to working with these forward-thinking entrepreneurs. Startups are a critical part of the Massachusetts innovation ecosystem and we extend profound gratitude to the mentors and to our sponsors, Bayer and Nutter, who have graciously offered their support to MassCONNECT.”


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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