Deerfield Management Company, a New York City-based healthcare investment firm, today announced the launch of the X-Seed Award, a new program designed to support early-stage life science startups. Award winners will be women and other minority founders in New York City.
The X-Seed Award was created by Deerfield as a result of the partnership announced in September 2019 between NYCEDC and Deerfield to develop the Cure life science campus, which is slated to open in January 2021. The 12-story vertical campus is bringing together innovators from academia, government, industry, and the not-for-profit sectors under one roof to advance human health and accelerate the fight against disease. Occupants will benefit from state-of-the-art laboratories, engineering and computing space, as well as other amenities and support services.
“As the City looks towards the future, we are committed to a recovery that puts equity at the center,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation. “The Deerfield X-seed Award is a major milestone towards achieving that goal. By supporting early stage entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, we can advance the City’s position as a leader in life sciences innovation for years to come.”
The X-Seed Award program, with a 20+ year commitment, will provide funding for a diverse population of the most talented researchers and entrepreneurs in New York City. It will help address a critical funding gap, bridging promising translational research to marketplace and commercial success.
Each year, the award will have a specific focus with Deerfield selecting five teams that will be awarded a total of up to $500,000. Finalists will have an opportunity to present their startups to a panel which includes: Claire Pomeroy, MD, President and CEO of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation; Nancy Thornberry, CEO at Kallyope, Inc.; James E. Flynn, Managing Partner of Deerfield; Elise Wang, Principal at Deerfield; and Joseph Pearlberg, Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Deerfield, among others. For 2021, given the state of the pandemic, the focus will be on infectious disease.
Deadline for submission is January 29, 2021 and the winners will be announced in March. To learn more about the X-Seed Fund’s applicant eligibility criteria, visit www.xseedaward.com
In addition to receiving award funding, the winning teams will join a two-year cohort of their fellow awardees. The teams will be provided with peer-learning, and office hours with leading investors, entrepreneurs, and business experts. Through the X-Seed Award cohort, it is anticipated that these startups will bolster their network and significantly raise their visibility. Graduates of each cohort will in turn serve as mentors and coaches for future cohorts, further strengthening the entrepreneurial community in New York City.
The life sciences sector is comprised of mission-driven companies in fields like biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, medical devices, and biochemistry that work to translate scientific research into cures and treatments that save and improve lives.
However, funding for women and other minority-led life science research and ventures face a significant gap. Female founders raised only 2.3 percent of total venture capital funding in 2018. Black applicants are 10 percent less likely than whites to be awarded NIH Funding and women of color, more broadly, have raised less than 1 percent of all venture capital funding since 2009.
The X-Seed Award was designed to disrupt this trend to create a stronger, more equitable New York. “If we are to continue to make progress in the fight against disease, we must make supporting and mentoring New York’s most talented and diverse scientists a priority, laying the groundwork for future generations to come,” said Karen Heidelberger, Partner and Chief Partnership and Communications Officer at Deerfield. “I can think of no better way to do that than to create the X-Seed Award program. We look forward to this exciting journey, as New York becomes a leading life science capital.”
With its rich history of developing and leading programs that support diversity, additional educational programming will continue, including Deerfield’s growing LifeSci NYC Fellows and Break into the Boardroom programs. In addition, in 2019 Deerfield introduced a new effort, Women in Science, focused on training women on how to commercialize their novel discoveries and create companies.
The campus is part of LifeSci NYC, a $500 million commitment to establish New York City as a global leader in the life sciences. The opening of the Cure will include the relocation of Deerfield’s corporate headquarters to the site at 345 Park Avenue South in New York City (from its current location of 780 Third Avenue). With this endeavor, Deerfield has invested $635 million to create the transformative life sciences campus.
Deerfield announced in September 2019 that it intended to commit more than $2 billion in research and seed funding by 2030 to develop much-needed new and innovative medicines and treatment solutions. Deerfield expects this world-class infrastructure and funding will contribute to the prevention, cure or management of dozens of still deadly and debilitating diseases.