Start-up services in OC are available for motivated life science entrepreneurs.
Connecting inventors with investors, technology with commercialization, OC is cultivating a prominent life sciences ecosystem with the support of myriad resources. So, what services are available to startups in Orange County? Which are accessible to the general public or do I need an affiliation to participate?
Housed within BAI’s building and open to the public is the SBDC (Small Business Development Center), which is partially funded through the U.S. Small Business Administration. This organization offers one-on-one experienced consulting specializing in high-tech and med tech scalable ventures within the UCI and OC ecosystem at no cost to their clients. With access to capital, knowledge, and talent networks, SBDC additionally utilizes workshops and special events to help get entrepreneurs investor ready. SBIR/STTR assistance is also in their wheelhouse.
For funding introductions, UCI Beall Applied Innovation at the Cove has in residence a community-access Associate Director of Venture Capital Collaboration to help facilitate introductions for funding-ready start-ups. Key word here is funding-ready.
Tech Coast Angels works well beyond startups within the university arena. Orange County hosts their third largest chapter in the nation with 95 members, and over 400 members nationwide. TCA actively seeks to connect innovative companies with entrepreneurs utilizing a fount of industry experience and venture capitalists. Their website hosts a variety of informative articles and video links to educate potential startups as well as aspiring angels.
EvoNexus is a non-profit incubator focused on tech and life sciences at their Orange County location. Additionally, this organization focuses on life sciences and med tech in San Diego, with FinTech incubators in Silicon Valley and San Diego. Spanning a spectrum of subjects that includes materials science, EvoNexus aims to support startups through a network of mentors as well as strategic and corporate partnerships. They consistently hold events to build upon these relationships and grow their community of eager entrepreneurs with the intention to develop a startup’s minimum viable product and better prepare them for the next steps of growth.
The Medical Innovation Exchange (MIx) takes their belief in curiosity and collaboration to focus on progress within the healthcare sector. Bringing together professionals and innovators in the medical technology industry, this lively group aims to connect ideas and capital while fostering positive growth and education in their field. MedTech Minds in particular is a popular monthly “MIx-er” in mastermind (peer-to-peer brainstorming) with star-power industry moderator format that intends to cultivate new ideas in medicine through learning and exploring fresh perspectives among other healthcare professionals.
DeviceAlliance similarly holds monthly events to foster a community of education and growth within the medical device industry. This non-profit organization is motivated by bringing together healthcare professionals with a passion for innovation in Southern California to formulate startups and/or expand market share. Offering expert insight to young and experienced professionals alike, DeviceAlliance focuses on collaboration within a competitive marketplace to create opportunities for medical device enterprise.
UCI Beall Applied Innovation is becoming a robust resource for entrepreneurs in Southern California. As the university’s research gateway to the public, this department invites a multitude of project foci, predominately around the life sciences. For UC Irvine affiliates (students, staff, faculty and alumni), the Wayfinder program is a full-featured startup incubator holding four rounds of applications per year. Once accepted, teams are connected with experienced mentors (network of Innovation Advisors) as well as put in front of angel investors and venture capital firms (Tech Coast Angels and Cove Fund). A great way to get involved at BAI is to attend one of their several hundred events held annually, many of which are open to the public.
Additional funds for innovators may be found through UCI affiliate programs, namely the Student Startup Fund and POP Grants. The former provides micro grants (up to $1,000) to students engaged in the university’s entrepreneurial programs, enabling early stage researchers to cover project-related expenses. Proof of Product (POP) Grants is a program working to stimulate development of commercially viable technology, focused on faculty innovators. More information can be found about these and other programs through BAI if you are affiliated with UCI. For non-UCI affiliates, attending community events is a positive approach to gain exposure and create connections within the growing life sciences niche. Renting lab space may also be advantageous in cultivating ideas among other like-minded researchers and ultimately help you move from lab to launch.
The Ralph W. Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics at Chapman University provides the essential practicum to complete their education, training, and experience. The industry expertise in business strategy, financial analysis and new product-service commercialization allow the team to develop Chapman students, enrich faculty and connect alumni with idea generation.