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DE&I Resources for Startups

Right now, there is a wave of activity directed at building the life sciences industry of the future. Governments, businesses, and institutions are investing heavily in innovation and technology, as they look to leverage the possibilities of medical research transformation.

As a result, startup bio-entrepreneurial ecosystems are undergoing major growth, with new, agile, innovative companies disrupting biotech of the past and offering new approaches to creativity and connection. However, if we don’t leverage the capabilities from a diverse workforce there will be lost opportunities for new discoveries.

The importance of embedding DEI at the startup level

Innovation is not something that is; it’s something that happens. As is the case for anything that happens, a certain environment is required. Where there is space for new ideas not only to be shared but to be challenged, innovation can happen. When we allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable, to think differently, to color outside the lines, innovation can flourish. It should come as no surprise then that diversity is the key to unlocking innovation. Indeed, diverse views and ideas are essential to drive the kind of disruptive, creative, critical thinking required to take the life sciences ecosystem forward.

Furthermore, there is unequivocal evidence that shows companies embracing diversity in leadership achieve better results in terms of innovation and creativity, and quite simply, better bottom lines.

Why we should be intentional about DEI from the get-go

The biotech start-up ecosystems are fertile ground for boundless potential. To improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), we need to design for it. Those who play a role in supporting start-ups must ensure their programs are designed to attract, include, and support diverse founders. This means creating spaces for People of Color and those from underrepresented groups in the life sciences to learn about the opportunities available, develop key skills, identify in themselves the potential for leading scalable companies, and see in others examples of how it can be done. To date, such spaces have been limited. But the community of support is rapidly growing, as the movement for diversity in biotech takes hold.

The pursuit of DEI in biotech entrepreneurship has shifted from a social side-issue to one receiving serious attention. From golden tickets to hackathons providing a launch pad for diverse founders to corporate and government-backed programs helping diverse founders become investment-ready–the efforts to raise awareness as well as the value of equity, representation, and investing are growing.

The intersection of biotech startups and government

To truly move the needle, we need to attack the problem from every angle. For example, while outstanding academic research is conducted in our universities and hospitals, curing one mouse of a rare cancer is by no means a human drug. Translating an academic paper and patent into a ‘Pharma-Grade’ asset as good or better than their internal programs requires the speed, risk, and appropriate rigor of biotech and its investors. This bridge from academia to pharma is the very reason the biotech industry exists. We must ensure that the biotech bridge is constantly renewed.

And our governments play a key role, not only through direct investment but also through the design of government policies and initiatives intended to assist the broader life sciences community. There is a real opportunity to make a direct impact by ensuring all programs funded by government bodies take a proactive approach to DEI by requiring a “non-negotiable” approach to inclusivity. This will have a consequential impact which will drive innovation and produce a more diverse (and thriving) biotech start-up environment.

Without intentional design for DEI, the future of biotech will remain an uneven playing field–creating a huge, missed opportunity to improve health and patient outcomes. The ideas and perspectives of diverse founders offer vital opportunities for the development of new products, services, and creative solutions to global medical crises. As we look for ways to increase our drug discovery pipelines, we embed DEI at the core of our growth strategies.

A Practical Guide to Diversity and Inclusion in Startups, DiversityQ
Startups have a unique position as change agents: they are young, agile, are born in the millennial era, have funding and have a new product or app that can change the world. They can change the workplace, society, and the world we live in. This guide is about positively changing the world with your startup in a profound and sustained way.

How to Make Diversity a Hiring Priority at the Startup Stage, Built In
Diversity and inclusion isn’t just an issue for large tech companies. Startups need to make diverse hiring a priority too. When you create a culture early on and don’t have D&I as part of that culture, you’re not creating those expectations and behaviors. And, it’s so hard to course correct once you go from 50 people to 150-300.

Roadmap to Improve ED&I at LifeSci Companies with Fewer than 20 Employees, MassBio
Any size company can take meaningful action toward improving equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) within their organization. In fact, starting now is especially important as it will create a strong foundation of ED&I at your company and help ensure future success as you grow. Here’s how to get started.

Running a Startup? Here’s Why You Should Care About Diversity and Inclusion, TechWire
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is often overlooked in the startup community, since startup teams are usually small and almost always strapped for time and money. But DEI isn’t only for big business, and frankly, it might be the biggest key to unlocking a highly-productive, innovative, collaborative culture and securing investment so you can scale.

There’s a Surprising Shift Taking Place in How White Entrepreneurs Are Approaching Diversity, Fortune
Companies launching in this startup boom have a chance to set things right. Fixing hiring practices, missions and work cultures that exclude is as important as the disruption startups already represent to the status quo. A lot of people think of diversity as a project. It’s not. If you are doing it in a way that’s right, it has to touch every aspect of the business.

This Resource Center has been created to complement your DE&I initiatives and/or strategies. The links and information included in this Resource Center are suggestions to help you on your individual/company journey and is in no way an exhaustive list of what is available. The vendors listed have not been endorsed by Biocom California.