BioLabs Investor Day Attracts 65 Startups and 30 Investors to Philadelphia

By Chris Frew | April 21, 2024

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More than 200 attendees converged upon the Curtis for the second annual Philadelphia Investor Day event hosted by BioLabs. The Curtis building is home to BioLabs Philadelphia, which is one of the fifteen incubator locations within the BioLabs network that provides founders and startup companies with resources such as free equipment for members and flexible lab space that can be leased as needed. 

While the functional resources and infrastructure that BioLabs provides are important for founders, the company’s mission is about so much more. As Johannes Fruehauf, president and CEO of BioLabs, shared at the event’s opening “BioLabs provides an opportunity for founders to meet with other peers and with other stakeholders, with investors, with pharmaceutical companies, and with other founders who have shared their path.” 

This type of learning and supportive environment, coupled with the purposeful collisions that BioLabs fosters is especially important for first-time founders.

“You are the ones that we built this company for,” shared Fruehauf. 

“In a way, we built (BioLabs) on our own experience of being academics and having the desire to take an idea forward, to make a product out of it. And no one really taught us how to do that in grad school. So we found that learning from mentors, learning from peers, learning from the market and learning from the Pharma buyers, is the best way of doing it. And so we tried to distill that into our facilities. The Biolabs Investor Day series is a part of that programming.”

The event was organized by the team at BioLabs Philadelphia, who fully embrace the BioLabs community culture and mission. Led by Melina Blees, who was nominated for the 2023 BioBuzz Community Builder of the Year award, the Philly team has built a reputation within the BioLabs network and greater Philadelphia for how hard they work to support their founders and the broader startup community.

Beyond the recent Investor Day, they are already planning to host a Job Fair this Fall and may also have another Investor Day in the works.

The Event: Much more than pitches.

Organized in partnership with BioStrategy Partners, the invite-only event provided startups the opportunity to pitch and mingle with 30 investors from the region as well as many from out-of-market who attended in hopes of finding their next deal. Startups also came from both the Philly ecosystem, as well as from throughout the East Coast to attend the event; including from Boston, New Jersey, Maryland, DC and North Carolina.

The program consisted of a series of quick pitches, plenty of networking opportunities, some panel presentations and a poster session for some early-stage companies who were not part of the pitch segment. The pitches were designed to be short and remain high level to give investors an intro to the company, their technology and the founders and plenty of networking time was built in to provide additional conversations and relationship building to take place.

The day’s pitches culminated in the presentation of the ‘Startup of the Year’ award, which was selected by the attending investors who got to vote for their top choice after the final pitch of the day. 

This year’s winner was 3Daughters, led by CEO Mary Beth Cicero for their innovative frameless, non-hormonal IUD for long-acting contraception. The Boston-based company’s novel approach eliminates one of the major barriers to the adoption of IUDs, insertion pain.

Scheer Partners sponsored the closing reception which provided even more opportunities for further relationship building as well as the opportunity to meet the eighteen poster presenters who were eager to share their stories with investors, peers and other interested guests in a casual atmosphere.

The Startups:

This year’s startups were selected out of 78 applicants.  Of the applicants, fifteen were selected to pitch and another eighteen were selected to present a poster.

Startups ranged from traditional small molecules, to gene therapy and new gene editing platforms, as well as diagnostics and even a company that is building semiconductors powered by human brain cells to achieve 1000x greater energy efficiency for chips (Nanoneuro Systems).

There were several homegrown companies out of the Philadelphia ecosystem, including Nanoneuro Systems, Vellum Biosciences ( a Penn upstart spinout), miRoncol Diagnostics and Cellepus Therapeutics. A spinout of the University of Pittsburgh, Monarch Therapeutics, also pitched.

Several companies from the Wexford SciTech fund were selected, including; Astek Diagnostics, Kalocyte and this year’s top prize winner, 3Daughters.

Photo credit: Ginger Fox Photography

While we can’t go into detail about each of the amazing startups in one article, we are happy to highlight them all here:

  • 3Daughters, pitched by Mary Beth Cicero, CEO
  • Cellepus Therapeutics, pitched by Dr. Kuldeep Neote, CEO 
  • EBV Therapeutics, pitched by Ezra Felker, CEO
  • GeneLancet BioSciences, pitched by Minghong Zhong, Ph.D.
  • ImmuNovX Biotech, pitched by Dalfoni Banerjee, Founder and CEO
  • Kalocyte, Inc., pitched by Elaine Haynes, President and CEO
  • miRoncol Diagnostics, pitched by Victoria Xu, CoFounder and CEO
  • Monarch Therapeutics, Inc., pitched by Christopher Potts, CEO
  • Materialize Bio, pitched by Joanna Xylas, PhD
  • Nanoneuro Systems, pitched by Maxx Yung, Founder
  • OCMS Bio, LLC, pitched by Paul Halpern, JD
  • RephImmune, pitched by Ming-Wei Chen, Founder and CEO
  • Sparing Vision, pitched by Daniel C Chung, DO, MA, CMO
  • Vellum Biosciences, pitched by Derek Miller, CEO
  • VerImmune, pitched by Josh Wang, Founder and CEO

The startups who presented posters included:

  • 100XBIO
  • Accelerated Biosciences
  • ACE Genomics
  • Astek Diagnostics, Inc.
  • BiologicsMD, Inc.
  • D2B3, Inc.
  • Illexcor Therapeutics
  • Imtol, Inc.
  • Linnaeus Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Merlin Biotech, Inc.
  • Oral Biolife, Inc.
  • Sauvie BiKE, LLC
  • SemPresto
  • SIRPant Immunotherapeutics
  • Syndeavor Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Sentrimed
  • TurboVax Inc.

This was the 8th Investor Day held by BioLabs worldwide, the second annual Investor Day at the Philadelphia location and definitely not the last. BioBuzz will continue to support BioLabs programming and will do our best to follow these startups as they reach their next milestones in advancing their technologies.

Sponsors for this year’s event include CRADL, Breakthrough Properties, Gunderson Dettmer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Scheer Partners, Revvity, Elemental Machines, Eppendorf, Keystone Properties, Millipore Sigma and Promega.

Be sure to follow all that BioLabs Philadelphia is doing for their startups and the region by following their LinkedIn Page