The Pistoia Alliance President's Startup Challenge 2015

The Pistoia Alliance is expanding its horizons and actively searching for new fields and hot topics to focus future projects on. Where better to seek inspiration than the startup community?

@pistoiaalliance / #pistoia2015

The Pistoia Alliance President's Startup Challenge 2015 challenges small businesses to create new products and services to help lower the barrier to innovation in life sciences research and development. The Challenge is designed to support design-driven production, promote a culture of innovation and commercialization, and foster the development of new ideas.

Access to Professionals

Finalists gain access to mentorship from industry professionals who understand industry needs

Exposure to Global Industry

All entrants gain exposure to the Pistoia Alliance's global membership network, a unique mixture of pharma and tech companies

Validation of Ideas

All entrants will receive constructive feedback from our panel of experienced judges

up to 5 awards

Access to three months of mentorship

Invitation to attend award ceremony and conference in Philadelphia, PA, USA (travel subsidy available up to $1,000)

Use of finalist's logo on publicity material

Joint publicity opportunities

Media Partner

Recent Updates

Startup Challenge Experiences: Novaseek Research

Collaborating with Pistoia through the President's Startup Challenge gave us a chance to think through in a very structured way about the next step of development of our platform, resulting in addition of the tissue collection module to CDNR; and to get feedback from Pistoia members, both the judging panel and more importantly, through assigning an excellent industry mentor.

How to Enter

The contest is now closed to new entries. Entries had to be submited via iStart before 23:59:59 EDT on Sunday 13th September 2015.


You are most likely eligible to enter the contest if you can answer YES to all the following questions (this checklist is for guidance only - please refer to the official rules for full entry criteria):

  • Is your corporation, LLC, partnership, non-profit, or other corporate entity already legally formed?
  • Do you employ fewer than 50 people?
  • Is your revenue or balance sheet capital under US$10 million?
  • Is the product or service you are entering new and not yet commercially available?
  • If your product is based on an open source technology, has it made substantial additions or changes to it?
  • Are you and your country free from any trade restrictions or sanctions enforced by the United States?

Entry Procedure

All entrants must prepare a business proposal for entry into Round One of the contest and submit it via iStart. Successful entrants will be selected as finalists and automatically entered into Round Two. Full details are given below, including a list of what should be included in the business proposal.

Round 1: Business Proposal Requirements (closed 13th September 2015)

Entrants must include a brief text summary of their proposal that the Pistoia Alliance is permitted to reproduce publicly. Entrants must also explain how their proposal is relevant to the Pistoia Alliance's mission of lowering barriers to innovation in life sciences R&D. The proposal itself will remain confidential.

The proposal must be a PDF document of no more than 5 pages at a readable font size. It must cover the following points:

  1. Plan Description: Outline the product or service and how it is planned to be delivered and the anticipated impact it will have on innovation in life science research and development;
  2. Execution: Explain how you plan to develop your product or service. Please include information on required materials or resources, potential vendors, any regulatory barriers, and any environmental requirements or outputs to consider.
  3. Commercialization: Explain how you plan to market and sell your product or service. Explain how your product or service is different from others in the marketplace and how you can demonstrate a demand for your product or service.
  4. Qualifications: Explain the experience of your team and why your team is qualified to execute the Plan and lead a successful commercialization. Include your team’s commitment, what expertise you have or lack, and what your team has built or produced previously.

The product or service described in the business proposal must be new and must not be commercially available at the time of entry or during the Challenge. Full requirements are outlined in the official rules.

Round One Judging Criteria

Judges will rate the quality of all entries using the following five equally weighted criteria:

  1. Novelty of the Plan (including originality and creativity and whether the product or service is substantially different from current market offerings)
  2. Quality of the Plan (including the depth and quality of analysis and market research illustrated in the Plan and whether it includes an appropriate level of technical detail)
  3. Potential impact (including feasibility of production, material and production costs, and potential impact on the market if successful)
  4. Potential to benefit Pistoia Alliance members (including how the idea is relevant to the Pistoia Alliance's mission statement)
  5. Quality of the Team (including prior successes and experience of team members and capacity of the team to execute and bring the Plan to fruition)

Up to five entries that earn the highest overall score will be selected as finalists. Full details of the judging process are contained in the official rules.

Round 2: Video Requirements (closed 17th January 2016)

Round two is only open to finalists from round one, who will be automatically entered. During the three month mentorship process finalists will have up to 2 hours contact time per week with their assigned mentor. At the end of the mentorship period finalists must produce a video that should:

  • Clearly describe the proposed product or service’s design, functionality, and use scenarios
  • Highlight the way in which it addresses the judging criteria
  • Be no longer than 5 minutes
  • Be uploaded to a public video hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo without any access restrictions

Round Two Judging Criteria

Judges will rate the quality of the finalists' videos using the following two equally weighted criteria:

  1. Progress During Mentorship (including the relative progress made developing a prototype and bringing it to market, and the team’s success in executing on their goals);

  2. Business Promise (including commercial potential of the product or service and the team’s potential for success after the Challenge concludes).

Up to two finalists that earn the highest overall score will be selected as overall winners. Full details of the judging process are contained in the official rules.

Any Questions?

Please check the FAQs first. Any other enquiries or requests for further information should be directed via email to the contest administrator.