NUvention: Therapeutics is a pilot class that will focus on how to leverage Lean Startup Principles in the therapeutics industry. Historically, building a company in this space has been viewed as a 10+ year effort requiring eight or nine figures in capital. These companies must manage high technical and market risks, deal with complex intellectual property and navigate the culturally diverse worlds of science and business.
In 2015, Naurex Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company based on Northwestern research, was sold to Allergen for $560 million cash and other performance compensation that may bring the total price to a much higher value. Naurex is the primary case study for NUvention: Therapeutics. Naurex’s founder/chief science officer and biomedical engineering professor, Joseph Moskal, chairs the faculty team for the class. Course participants will also research other successful and failed companies/products in the therapeutics space that were pursued by startups and by large pharma/biotech companies.
Learning will focus on the following areas:
- Understanding challenges of starting companies in the therapeutics space and how they have been overcome.
- How to focus your research on areas that have strong commercial application.
- Differences between traditional and non-traditional approaches to conducting product and customer development.
- Understand what are critical milestones necessary to evolve from lab research to a stand-alone company.
- How to develop strategic partnerships with larger companies early in the development of a startup.
- How do Lean Startup principles apply in this space?
- Building a team that can straddle the science and business dimensions.
Project ideas would come from the Northwestern Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) portfolio and from students/faculty that submit invention disclosures to INVO. The primary focus of this class involves how to develop and recognize a high potential compound and then pivot the from the lab to a private enterprise.
Learning methodology will involve a combination of case studies, lectures, guest speakers, and project work;
NUvention: Therapeutics is open to all Northwestern students in all schools, including undergrads, graduate, and postdoc students. Class is structured as a survey class; some students may look to form teams which will assess the feasibility of therapeutic innovations in certain areas; others would purely audit the class discussions.