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Activation Capital Introduces ‘Frontier BioHealth’ to Catalyze Life Science Startups

Activation Capital announces the launch of Frontier BioHealth, an educational and support program designed to provide highly specialized training, targeted mentorship, and relationship building to help scale pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and health-focused consumer products companies. The inaugural four-month program will be critical in bringing research-intense products and companies to market. It will broaden the continuum of regional early-stage support – additive to Virginia Commonwealth University’s proof of concept fund and newly launched pre-accelerator program – and continue to coalesce the emerging private investment ecosystem in Central Virginia.

“We celebrate the growing base of research and technological advances within the region’s health and life sciences sector,” said Chandra Briggman, President and CEO of Activation Capital. Virginia Commonwealth University has seen a 76% increase in sponsored research over the past five years. Virginia State University is creating a robust technology transfer and commercialization ecosystem on its campus to expand its agtech and other expertise. Our goal is to ensure more of that research and technology is translated into successful products, companies, and jobs, which is the intended return on research investments,” added Briggman.  “These companies are important contributors to regional economic growth because they are associated with higher-paying jobs and with delivering innovations that improve all varieties of life. Our Frontier BioHealth initiative is designed to help deliver these outcomes more consistently.”

Under the leadership of Activation Capital’s newly appointed Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Dr. Jim Pannucci, Frontier BioHealth will address the long, complex, and capital-intense journey that life sciences startups face as they bring products to market. “On average, deep tech firms building life science solutions require up to 15 years to reach the market. There is currently a gap in support for these firms within the region, as noted by our regional partners, yet these firms hold great promise for transforming segments of the sector and our regional economy,” said Dr. Pannucci. “Our goal is to provide startups with a comprehensive array of resources, connections, and guidance – helping them navigate market-readiness challenges and scale their solutions.”

Frontier BioHealth reflects the growing momentum in Central Virginia’s life sciences sector, including the early successes of the advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing cluster scale-up efforts and the introduction of multiple sector-related educational programs like Reynolds Community College’s Biotechnology Laboratory Technician Associate in Science (AS) degree program, and the School of Pharmacy’s new Pharmaceutical Sciences degree at VCU. “Frontier BioHealth will help broaden the regional life sciences innovation portfolio – yielding a more diverse innovation ecosystem and a workforce with skills across a broader selection of sub-sectors. It will help deepen regional expertise and thus increase the region’s global competitiveness within key life science focus areas,” said Briggman.

The launch of Frontier BioHealth is a return to the Bio+Tech Park’s roots, where the 34-acre urban campus offered an array of training, wrap-around support, and networking for university spinouts and other emerging firms from within its Biotech Center and shared lab space. “I am excited to bring my deep scientific and business expertise to help write the next chapter of the Center’s history and build an active community of successful health and life sciences firms operating within the region,” said Pannucci. “Over the next 12 months, we will engage and iterate our offerings to address the dynamic needs of these firms, but we are ready to get started.” Participating companies will have access to a wide variety of resources from Activation Capital and its national-level partnerships with gener8tor, FedTech, and Fat Robin Consulting. The inaugural training component is intended to kick off in early August 2024 and will conclude in November 2024. Companies with a clear commercialization path, a strong scientific discovery that is ready to scale, and a full-time founder are invited to apply. Additional information can be found at www.activation.capital/frontier-biohealth.

Frontier BioHealth is funded in part through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of Activation Capital and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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