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One Broadway, 5th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142

April 26th, 2018

3:00 – 8:30 PM


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BIO Connect 2018

Save the date for Venture Cafe’s BIO Connect mini-conference, taking place on April 26th, 2018. Our annual mini-conference will feature the latest business, technology, and regulatory developments in drugs and therapeutics. Join experts, innovators, and investors for a dialogue about funding and successes in the sector.


Presenting Sponsor

BIO Connect is hosted by Venture Café and brought to the Greater Boston community by:

SheConnects in










3:00 – 8:30 PM NETWORKING

3:00 – 5:00 PM OFFICE HOURS

5:00 – 6:00 PM BIOTECH PANEL

5:30 – 8:00 PM DEMOS

6:00 – 6:30 PM KEYNOTE


6:45 – 8:00 PM SHARK TANK



OFFICE HOURS (3:00 - 5:00 PM)

Early stage ventures and prospective entrepreneurs have an opportunity to sign up for Office Hours during this event. Entrepreneurs may sign up for 30-minute consultations with a variety of experts.

Appointments can be made on a first come, first served basis. Any cancellations will require 48-hour notification in order to accommodate entrepreneurs who have been placed on a wait-list. No-shows are frowned upon in the VenCaf community and we reserve the right to disallow future appointments for repeat offenders.

Appointments may be booked beginning April 1st, 2018, here:

Bio Connect, Office hours, startups

Stephanie Lustgarten








Executive with Diverse Experience in Life Sciences





Bio Connect Office hours startups

Asa Valenti








Resourceful business leader and investor with experience in BD transactions and partnerships





Bio Connect office hours startups

Sara Dutta








Energetic and creative researcher/consultant with extensive experience in computational modelling




How Digital Biotechs are Using Data, Collaboration, and Technology to Improve Fundraising

Life science and technology leaders discuss approaches to capturing and unlocking value from data that are transforming the way today’s biotechs achieve milestones needed to secure follow-on funding.

Join us as John Keilty from Decibel Therapeutics leads a discussion on how the next generation of “Digital Biotechs” are unlocking value from data and increased collaboration. We’ll learn from their approaches, learnings and support technology. John is joined by biotech leaders Molly Gibson of Flagship Pioneering and James Weis of Nest.Bio, and science software leaders Alok Tayi of TetraScience and Rory Macneil of Research Space.

John Keilty, Chief Data Sciences Officer, Decibel Therapeutics

John Keilty, Chief Data Sciences Officer, Decibel Therapeutics

James Weis, Partner, Nest.Bio Ventures, Venture Café Cambridge BioConnect

James Weis, Partner, Nest.Bio Ventures

Molly Gibson, Associate , Flagship Pioneering

Molly Gibson, Associate, Flagship Pioneering

Rory Macneil, CEO, Research Space

Rory MacNeil, CEO, Research Space

Alok Tayi, CEO, TetraScience

Alok Tayi, CEO, TetraScience



KEYNOTE SPEAKER (6:00 - 6:30 PM)


Join Travis McCready, President, and CEO of Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, in a special Life Sciences State of the Union. Hear McCready’s facts, stats, and insights on challenges and on what’s next in the 10-year horizon for life sciences in Massachusetts.


Travis McCready, President & CEO - Venture Café Cambridge - BIO Connect

Travis McCready, President & CEO

Travis McCready is the President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a $1 billion public-private partnership with the mission of advancing the life sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts.  He directs and oversees the center’s investment strategy, including the agency’s operations, programs, and partnerships.  Previously, Mr. McCready served as the Vice President for Programs at The Boston Foundation, directing the Foundation’s grants and community investment strategy to benefit the people of Greater Boston.  He was the first Executive Director of the Kendall Square Association, responsible for growing the innovation economy of Kendall Square, one of the Commonwealth’s most economically robust districts.  He has held the COO and CFO positions at the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, overseeing the operations and finances for three convention centers in Massachusetts.  A native of Brooklyn, Mr. McCready began his career as a public school teacher in the Bronx, NY.

Mr. McCready serves on the trustee Boards of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Conservation Law Foundation, and WBUR; and the New England Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  He served on the Economic Development Planning Council under two governors, including co-chairing the subcommittee on innovation and entrepreneurship.  He currently serves on the Massachusetts Digital Healthcare Council and the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative.  In 2017, he was named one of Boston’s 50 most powerful people by the Boston Business Journal.  Mr. McCready is a frequent speaker on economic development strategy as it relates to the convergence of private, public, and not-for-profit interests, and his blog, Life Sciences Discourses, has been recognized by The Boston Globe

Mr. McCready received his B.A. from Yale University and J.D. from the University of Iowa.


Life Sciences Flash Talks

Flash talks are comprised of a 30-minute presentation on a hot topic in Life Sciences followed by 15 minutes of networking with a highly engaged audience. Topics proposals can span the sector including biotech, diagnostics, digital health, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, therapeutics and more.


2018 Flash Talks

Track 1 – 6:00 – 6:45 PM

30-minute talk + 15-minute networking session


Wendy Tsai, BioSymetrics Inc.

Wendy Tsai, BioSymetrics Inc.

How to Avoid Potholes on the Road to Life Sciences Machine Learning Paradise

Review of R&D challenges and benchmarking analysis of platform technologies used for AI Machine Learning of large-scale and complex biomedical data.

Presenter:  Wendy Tsai of BioSymetrics, Inc










Greg Mannix, Life Science Nation

Greg Mannix, Life Science Nation

Fundraising Tips for Early-Stage Life Science Companies

Many early-stage companies are led by first-time entrepreneurs. Though many of them have great ideas, most do not have a business background. We offer some very useful tips and strategies on how to approach fundraising in this space, including a breakdown of the types of investors who invest in early-stage projects, common myths and pitfalls surrounding fundraising and key data elements that investors want to see from fundraising CEO’s.

Presenter: Greg Mannix, Life Science Nation












Cornelia Kroeger, German Accelerator Life Sciences

Cornelia Kroeger, German Accelerator Life Sciences

The Digital Transformation of Pharma

A case study on how Digital Health reshapes established R&D and Clinical Development processes in Biopharma, creating new therapy regiments to improve patient outcomes.

Presenter: Cornelia Kroeger, German Accelerator Life Sciences











David Saxner, Principal, Longfellow Associates

David Saxner, Principal, Longfellow Associates

Beyond the Science and Capital: How to Build a Life Science Product

What really matters when building a life science product? Beyond the science and the capital there are many other important factors that are overlooked. We dive into these and cover what you need to make your life science product a success.

Presenter: David Saxner, Principal, Longfellow Associates










Track 2 – 6:45 – 7:30 PM

30-minute talk + 15-minute networking session


Leila Pirhaji, CEO, ReviveMed

Leila Pirhaji, CEO, ReviveMed

AI-Driven Drug Discovery 

An overview of leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in drug discovery and development: opportunities, challenges, and current technologies.

Presenter: Leila Pirhaji, CEO, ReviveMed












Dan Morten, CEO, Stealth Venture

Dan Morden, CEO, Stealth Venture

The Other Half of Life Sciences

In Boston, when someone says life sciences, what you generally think of is therapeutic development. Therapeutic development gets all the large funding rounds, the press coverage, etc. But there is a second life sciences industry in development. This is medical data science, the application of data science techniques such as machine learning and deep learning applied to biometric data. We can use these techniques to better understand the complex system that is our bodies and their basic biological function. More than genomics, we can measure how the body responds to medication in near real time with the advancement of medical wearables creating co-diagnostics, novel endpoints for clinical trials, and truly personalized medicine.

Presenter: Dan Morden, CEO, Stealth Venture






Aisha Townes, Momedx inc.

Aisha Townes, Momedx inc.

How to Use Digital Health Space to Reach People of Color?

While health may be a human right, health equity has not been achieved in the US. There are great racial disparities in health. Digital health tools may be the best innovative solution for reducing health disparities. I am launching a platform to highlight mental health for people of color. I am able to provide insights from our beta testers and focus groups as well as some case studies. There are open questions I will propose to stimulate participants and drive innovative solutions.

Presenter: Aisha Townes, Momedx inc.







Isaac Krauss, Associate Professor. Brandeis University

Isaac Krauss, Associate Professor. Brandeis University

Carbohydrate-Based Vaccines for HIV and Cancer

Isaac Krauss is an associate professor at Brandeis University. He’s working on a new method for creating vaccines that mimic specific antibodies in a way that could lead to immunizations against HIV, many types of cancer, and host of other diseases. He’s also a professional-level violinist, and nearly took another path in life. Hear about his breakthrough vaccine discovery, and the importance of creativity in science, especially when tackling the big challenges.

Presenter: Isaac Krauss, Associate Professor. Brandeis University





 Track 3 – 7:30 – 8:15 PM

30-minute talk + 15-minute networking session


Stephanie Lustgarten, Vice President, Biometrics, Verastem, Inc.

Stephanie Lustgarten, Vice President, Biometrics, Verastem, Inc.

Strategies to Foster Youth Interest in STEM

There are many initiatives that exist to connect young people who are interested in a future in STEM/life sciences with educational and mentoring opportunities. How can we motivate young people to take further advantage of these opportunities, and foster/develop their interest in STEM?

Presenter: Stephanie Lustgarten, Vice President, Biometrics, Verastem, Inc.







Ingrid Marko, BioChemistry PhD Candidate, Brandeis University

Ingrid Marko, CEO, ModiBrace

Brace Yourself: Redesigning Scoliosis Back Braces

Ingrid Marko, founder of ModiBrace, has a personal connection to her invention: she herself has scoliosis. She experienced the inadequacy of today’s treatments as a patient, and that experience is what set her on her startup path. Learn about how to choose a research focus and launch a venture. Let’s discuss the many paths to becoming a biotech innovator.

Presenter: Ingrid Marko, CEO, ModiBrace






Kendra Taylor, PhD, MMSc. – CEO at First Immuno-Consulting

Kendra Taylor, CEO, First Immuno-Consulting

Early Stage Market Research: Why Invest the Time?

Early-stage life science market research is critical to the innovation process and funding success. Early-stage innovators and startups often skip critical aspects of market research such as identifying segmented addressable markets with commercial potential or having a complete view of the competition. This session will elucidate the importance of early-stage life science market research, provide insights and tips on how to get started.

Presenter: Kendra Taylor, PhD, MMSc. – CEO at First Immuno-Consulting






Arantza Muriana, bio connect, venture cafe

Arantza Muriana, CEO, Biobide

Alternative Models for Drug Discovery & Development

Pharma and Biotech industry is lacking good lead candidates and good human clinical candidate, therefore are looking for alternative methods to improve the Drug Discovery and Development process and commercialize new drug entities successfully. We will review those new alternative technologies and trends, mainly developed by innovative startup companies.

Presenter: Arantza Muriana, CEO, Biobide



BIO Connect is once again hosting its Life Sciences Shark Tank. This was a huge success in 2017. Five life science entrepreneurs will pitch a selection of investors.  It is a great platform to pitch, meet and build relationships with investors in the Life Sciences sector.


Avi Spier, Novartis

Avi Spier, Novartis

Avi Spier is Director or NIBR BD&L, Search and Evaluation with Novartis.

In 2001, Dr. Spier co-founded La Jolla based Allon Therapeutics, Inc. and led the peptide therapeutic neurodegenerative disease-focused company as its President and CEO through two financing rounds and up to its entry onto the Toronto Stock Exchange. In 2004, Dr. Spier joined the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF), as its Director of Business Development. In 2012 Dr. Spier was appointed Director of BD&L in NIBR, with responsibility for search and evaluation activities for the Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Diabetes (CVM), Global Discovery Chemistry (GDC), Chemical Biology and Therapeutics (CBT), GNF Systems and the Microbiome organizations of NIBR. Dr. Spier was educated in Biological Sciences at Oxford University, received his Ph.D. in molecular neuroscience from Cambridge University at the MRC-Laboratory of Molecular Biology and trained as a postdoc at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), La Jolla, CA.







Anil Achyuta, L'oreal

Anil Achyuta, L’oreal

Anil Achyuta is Director of Advanced Research in L’oreal’s Open Innovation and Strategy division. Anil heads External Innovation in Boston to forge new business relationships within Boston’s rich entrepreneurial ecosystem to facilitate access to emerging scientific innovation to L’Oreal.











Walter Olesiak, Remiges Ventures

Walter Olesiak, Remiges Ventures

Walter Olesiak is Partner with Remiges Ventures – a US-based cross-border venture capital firm with offices in Cambridge, MA, and Tokyo, Japan, focused on investments in early-stage drug discovery and development companies.










Laura Tadvalkar, MP Healthcare Venture Management

Laura is a Senior Associate at MP Healthcare Venture Management (MPH), the strategic venture capital fund of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma. MPH invests in early-stage biotech companies developing novel therapeutics and platform technologies, in areas of strategic interest for Mitsubishi Tanabe. Laura is currently a Board Observer at Ribometrix, which discovers and develops small molecule therapeutics to target functional RNA structures.

Previously, Laura was a Manager at Clarion Healthcare, a boutique life sciences consulting firm based in Boston. At Clarion, she worked with emerging and established biopharmaceutical companies on commercial strategy for therapeutics and drug/device combinations in rare disease and oncology.







Travis McCready

President & CEO

Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

John Keilty

Chief Data Sciences Officer

Decibel Therapeutics

Wendy Tsai

VP Business Development

BioSymetrics Inc.

Alok Tayi



James Weis


Molly Gibson


Flagship Pioneering

Aisha Townes

Project Coordinator

Momedx inc.


Cornelia Kroeger

Program Director

German Accelerator Life Sciences

Dan Morden


Medical Data Science

Greg Mannix

VP Business Development

Life Science Nation

Kendra Taylor

Founder & CEO

First Immuno-Consulting  LLC

Isaac Krauss

Associate Professor

Brandies University

Leila Pirhaji

Founder & CEO


Stephanie Lustgarten

Vice President


Rory MacNeil


Research Space

Ingrid Marko



Avi Spier

Director of Search & Evaluation


Walter Olesiak


Remiges Ventures

Anil Achyuta

Director, Advanced Research


Arantza Muriana



Laura Tadvalkar
Sr. Associate
MP Healthcare Venture Management



Mansfield Bio-Incubator is a non-profit biotech, pharma, life science, and medical device business incubator facility. Mansfield Bio-Incubator’s mission is to facilitate and assist the creation, growth, and success of the next generation of biotech, pharma, life science, and medical device companies.  They were created to nurture entrepreneurial and economic development in the community. They aim to do this by maintaining affordable lab and office space and making cutting-edge technology, services, training, mentoring, and a network of professional advisors available to small biotechnology companies and healthcare-related start-ups.

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