activationIanne Salvosa June 18, 2024 - Efforts are afoot to make Richmond more of a player in the biohealth industry.

Downtown-based Activation Capital is launching the Frontier BioHealth program to provide training and mentorship for up to 10 startups from August to November to groom life sciences companies in the area for the long term.

Activation Capital Vice President of Entrepreneurship Jim Pannucci said the program is a nod to the group’s original mission to help the region and the VA Bio+Tech Park be a hub of biotechnology. Activation Capital operates the park, while supporting entrepreneurship and startups in the region through various programs.

The Bio+Tech Park was established about three decades ago to turn Richmond into a center of biotechnology and now about 70 companies and research facilities operate in the area, with interests ranging from smoke-free tobacco alternatives to organ donation.

While surrounding universities like Virginia Commonwealth University are increasing their financial commitment to life sciences research, Pannucci said Activation Capital is seeking to grow the business environment in research so life sciences startups can take root in the area, returning to the campus’ biotechnology origins.

“Richmond is absolutely poised to become a recognized region and city for doing biohealth type of work, and we’re just here to set the table for that as Activation Capital and clear some obstacles so all those great scientists and technologists can succeed,” Pannucci said.

He said Frontier BioHealth’s ideal candidates are those that already have their own intellectual property and have full-time staff, but it is also keeping an eye out for fresher startups in the “pre-acceleration” stage.

The program accepted applications through Monday and will kick off Aug. 8. There are 76 applicants. There is no requirement for startups to stay in Richmond after the program, but the application does ask whether applicants have considered settling their company in Richmond or the Commonwealth of Virginia, though the answer is not factored into judging.

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