Last week, BioUtah and the University of Utah’s Center for Technology & Venture Commercialization (TVC) held their annual Entrepreneur & Investor Summit. It was an amazing opportunity to explore financing options for early and later stage Utah Life Science companies and the challenges facing our local entrepreneurs. Want to learn more? Our own Acting Corporate Recruitment Manager, Liesl Limburg shares insights gained from the summit, read on:

The amount of new venture capital to the life sciences industry, even over the past year, has been staggering. In Salt Lake City, more than $200 million has been invested in the Life Sciences industry since 2016. $200 million!  We are leading the nation in job growth. States like New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are seeing significant declines in Life Science jobs, but they are increasing in Utah.  In 2018, we had the highest job growth in the nation.

Why is that?

Utah is prime for the Life Science industry because of our manufacturing supply chain. More companies choose Salt Lake City for our favorable business climate, quality of life, and phenomenal tech ecosystem. But there is something even more intriguing for investors — available real estate and a specialized concentration in at least 3 subsectors.  Oncology and gene therapy are leading the industry. Regenerative medicine is on the rise. It’s an exciting time for entrepreneurs bringing their innovations to market.

University of Utah’s Center for Technology and Venture Commercialization is leading the way in developing more incubator and wet lab space as the center for innovation and job creation. BioUtah is providing phenomenal networking opportunities for Life Science startups. VC’s are looking for more of the same — more wet space lab and mentoring.

About that Real Estate

From early-stage at The University of Utah and Research Park development to innovation happening in Class A and co-working office space downtown, to late-stage manufacturing west toward Salt Lake International Airport, Salt Lake City provides an ideal ‘corridor’ to grow and scale with ease. We’re leading the effort to identify Salt Lake City’s Opportunity Zones by identifying areas that allow for capital stacking of various gap filling tools available through the City.


Connecting with Life Science Investors

The summit provided the stage for nine rising startup companies to pitch and the opportunity to learn how companies can better connect to VC’s. The best route? Personal connections and recommendations. As the life sciences venture community is both relatively small and close knit, a targeted approach allows a company to maintain control of its financing process.

Not only are VC funds looking for the problem the company is solving in the market, but they want to know the product story – how many people it will impact and what it will cost.  VC funds are looking for:

  • Alignment to investment thesis
  • Scalability
  • Exit points/ company valuation
  • Freedom to operate (FTO)
  • Other investors; more investors, more likely to access VC funds
  • Expertise in the room
  • Is there a 3-5 year increase?
  • Company culture

We were encouraged to meet with many of Utah’s own VC firms leading the way in the Life Science industries.  We also learned that there is a void between angel funding and VC’s that Salt Lake City and the State of Utah could potentially fill. New and emerging companies are looking for other funding sources and tax incentives to accommodate the infrastructure and programmatic needs.

Salt Lake City is invested in the future of healthcare and we’re getting stronger every day. Need help connecting to the resources to grow your idea? Reach out, we’re here to help.