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Apply Now: Early-Stage Life Sciences Competition For Women, MassNextGen, Is Taking Applications

If you're a woman entrepreneur in life sciences, MassNextGen is for you. Apply by Feb. 14 for a slot in the Boston-based program. Compete for up to $100,000, get executive coaching and more.

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center  recently announced the launch of the Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative, a new competitive program for women entrepreneurs in early-stage life sciences companies. MassNextGen will begin as a five year, $1 million commitment focused on advancing diversity and providing support for the next generation of life science

entrepreneurs. Application deadline is Feb. 14. 

Program Overview

The Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative (MassNextGen) is a five year, $1 million commitment to ensure greater gender parity in the next generation of life science entrepreneurs. Increasing the number of successful entrepreneurs is in the best interest of the entire life science industry and as such, this initiative is a public-private partnership between the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and our initial corporate sponsor Takeda.

Each year, following a competitive program, women-led early-stage life science companies will be awarded a year-long customized package of support, which includes non-dilutive grant funding and access to a network of seasoned Executive Coaches from the life sciences ecosystem to refine their business strategies and effectively raise capital.

Up to $100,000 of non-dilutive capital is available for the inaugural year of the program to be distributed to winners of a competitive process. An additional $100,000 of in-kind support and coaching from an illustrious network of seasoned entrepreneurs and life science investors as executive coaches will be available to winners of the first year’s challenge. 

Why MassNextGen?

It is clear the system is broken and that a lack of diversity in life sciences is a problem at all levels of the ecosystem. This underrepresentation has real consequences not only for individual careers, but also for the amount of new innovative therapeutics that make it to patients. Specifically for women entrepreneurs, there is well documented bias when raising funds. Between 2011 and 2013, only 15% of the companies receiving venture capital investment had a woman on the executive team. However, only 3% of the total venture capital dollars in the U.S. went to companies with a woman CEO. Seed stage money is the hardest for women executives to come by. Gender parity is not only about equal representation. It’s about a strong business case that supports a diverse ecosystem. Research shows that companies with more diverse leadership do better. Several studies have demonstrated that companies, including biotechs, with diverse boards, even those with at least one woman on their board, outperform companies with all-male boards. Other studies show that diverse teams find more creative solutions to problems. Having more women at all levels of our ecosystem makes our industry stronger.

This initiative is designed to support women entrepreneurs, giving them the tools they need to overcome the bias they face. These tools include expanding their network, increased visibility within our ecosystem, and directly investing in their ventures via non-dilutive capital. We look forward to featuring standout Massachusetts women-led life science companies over the course of the next 5 years. We also look forward to partnering with industry members to make it happen!

The program is now accepting applications for its inaugural 2018 year! Read our solicitation to see if you qualify for MassNextGen and for more details of the initiative. Please visit our SmartSimple portal to apply by the 12 p.m. (EDT) Feb. 14 deadline. Top applicants may be asked to meet with our judging panel and will be notified of such a request.

If you have any questions regarding the application process, e-mail

About the author

Natasha Zena

Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the co-founder of Lioness, the go-to news source for everything female entrepreneur. Natasha was recognized as an emerging leader in digital media by The Poynter Institute and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has mentored women entrepreneurs and moderated panels at a number of national accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences such as The Lean Startup Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Women Empower Expo and Smart Cities Connect. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, "How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021." In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.

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