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interview with grit zahn

14. August 2020

Accelerator ProgrammLife ScienceEntrepreneurship

Today we present you our first coach for the Life Science Track 2020! Grit was already there last year and will help you again this year with all your questions. Check out our interview and learn more about Grit!

Dear Grit, thank you for the interview with us. Please tell us a little bit about your person and your life science reference.

I am a biochemist by training and working since nearly 20 years in the biotech universe in particular in drug development projects. During this time I led different projects from the early target discovery and assay development until clinical phase 1 testing and I was also involved in the market approval of a drug for an orphan disease when I was at the Berlin based biotech company Jerini AG. During my different positions in different companies I was involved in nearly all phases of a company life cycle from foundation, over fundraising, IPO until acquisition by a big pharmaceutical company. Actually, I am the head of research of the Berlin based Biotech company Eternygen, located in the Bayer CoLaborator.

What is the AHEAD Life Science Track?

The ahead program of Fraunhofer Venture supports scientists who consider commercializing their ideas with a spin-off by giving coaching for all aspects of business planning, strategic discussions and IP.  The Life Science Track further develops the successful concept by combining Fraunhofer Ventures expertise with the industry-specific expertise of the Life Science Factory such as experienced Biotech and MedTech entrepreneurs, regulatory experts, life science focused investors and industry contacts.  

Why are you one of the lead coach for the AHEAD Life Science Track?

I am working closely together with the team of the Life Science Factory and always excited about new ideas and to work with motivated teams. Based on my experience in drug development and other life science topics I hope to help the teams to further incubate their ideas and to learn how they can progress their projects.

What do you think is the special thing about the AHEAD Life Science Track?

There are two important aspects making the program special. One is obviously the combination of expertises from Fraunhofer Venture and Life Science Factory. The other very important aspect is to meet other teams in a similar situation, exchange about ideas, challenges and making contacts as well as being away from the daily business in the lab or office and to focus on the spin-off project.

Which topics are covered in the AHEAD Life Science Track?

I think the program covers all aspects needed for teams considering company formation such as pitching training, business planning, regulatory guidance, IP, networking, fundrasing and much more.

Why should teams apply for the AHEAD Life Science Track?

The program is a great opportunity to incubate your ideas intensively with your team, to challenge the business model and to get access to expertise and funding for your planned business.

How far does a team have to be for the AHEAD Life Science Track?

From my perspective there is definitively no particular maturation grade you need to enter the program. In recent campaigns I met teams at different stages from the very first idea still before proof of concept up to teams just before foundation of the company and market entry with a final product. And all those teams profited from the program significantly.

What would you recommend teams that are in the early stages of formation? What should teams pay attention to?

I think it is very important to “incubate” your idea in the team with experienced entrepreneurs and other experts to get feedback on your busines model, common pitfalls for young companies and getting access to relevant networks. Today there are many interesting opportunities to do this by applying for business contests, pitching campaigns, hackathons and in particular programs like the Ahead Life Science Track.

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