Lean LaunchPad for Synthetic Biology: Autumn 2016

  • Posted on 26 May, 2016
Dr Stephen Chambers, CEO SynbiCITE

The entrepreneurial programme Lean LaunchPad for Synthetic Biology returns to London this autumn. Now in its second year, this event brings together academic scientists and researchers working in synthetic biology and exposes them to the rigors of the market place.

Participants in the programme are challenged over 10 weeks, by seasoned entrepreneurs and investors, to test their hypotheses about market fit, customer relations, distribution channels, revenue streams, cost structure, key partners, and resources needed to generate a profitable scalable business model. They’re asked to ‘get out of the building’ and talk to potential customers, partners and competitors to validate their ideas. Teams entering the programme are matched with mentors, with practical entrepreneurial experience, and have access to a network of advisors across a wide range of sectors.

The Lean LaunchPad for Synthetic Biology plays a critical role in SynbiCITE’s mission of commercializing synthetic biology in the UK. The programme is based on the Lean Launchpad for Life Sciences, developed by Steve Blank at UCSF. This programme has been taught at Stanford, Berkley, Columbia and Caltech, and is being adopted by US NSF as part of its Innovation Corps curriculum. It stresses the importance of customer discovery, development and market validation in the launch of new products.

The term ‘lean’ is borrowed from the Japanese lean manufacturing process, which eliminates any work or investment that doesn’t produce value for the customer. With its early and constant focus on customers, the lean start-up approach was originally developed for web-based start-ups, but over time has been found equally relevant in other sectors. Today, ‘lean’ has evolved into Lean LaunchPad for Healthcare and Life Science, and now Synthetic Biology.

Lean LaunchPad succeeds in raising the investment readiness level of those taking part in the programme. Would-be entrepreneurs participating in the Lean LaunchPad for Synthetic Biology run by SynbiCITE have gone on to successfully establish their own companies, raise funds from venture companies or crowd sourcing, enter into collaborations with customers identified in the course, and have either been inspired to take their idea to the next level or discouraged from pursing a bad idea nobody wants.

SynbiCITE has helped run a successful Lean LaunchPad at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University in Northern Ireland, and an Educators (Teach the Teachers) programme for those interested in replicating the programme at their own institution.

If you are interested in taking part, or want more information on the Lean LaunchPad for Synthetic Biology taking place at Imperial College later this year, please contact me: