The NCCR Chemical Biology believes in the benefits of stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit of research staff. We have made a unique contribution to forging connections between academics from all over Switzerland with industry, venture capitalists, business and legal experts in bringing customised training in entrepreneurship in the form of a workshop. Together with other academic partners, we have spread it all over Switzerland as the bench2biz workshop.
The story of the bench2biz workshop started in 2004 when the workshop was created by Mark Wilson, Rochester New York as a Neworks trademark product (‘Pre-seed workshop’). In the States, the workshop is held about ten times a year in various Host City locations throughout the northeast of the US. In Switzerland, the workshop is organized since 2012 by the NCCR Chemical Biology.
In 2016, new academic partners joined the adventure and the workshop is now conducted by a consortium of several research institutes that aims to organize the workshop every year in a different Swiss location. The partnership includes the NCCR Chemical Biology, NCCR Transcure, NCCR PlanetS, and NCCR RNA and disease. Innosuisse (CTI) and IPI are supporting this national initiative over several years.
The workshop fills a critical gap between superficial exposure of researchers to entrepreneurship in short events and the time-consuming training support available locally and nationally. It functions as the entry point to the Innosuisse organized training modules for students and entrepreneurs, to support the scientists in developing their business ideas, setting up their company and implementing a strategy for growth.
This intensive workshop specifically targets very early to early high-technology entrepreneurial ideas from all fields and from all over Switzerland. Through a condensed two and a half day approach, the bench2biz workshop prepares participants for the entry into the existing Swiss start-up promotion ecosystem. The high-technology business idea may or may not have been recently patented, or applicants may have a high-tech business idea but are still wondering about the next steps to take.
The bench2biz workshop has proven to be a fast and efficient way to vet projects and business ideas, and launch pre-seed stage companies. Out of the teams that came to the past workshops held in Switzerland, several for-profit ventures were created or empowered following participation. We are very proud to mention that since their participation to the workshop they have won prizes in Switzerland and the US, and they have received other international distinctions.