In order to thrive, all forms of life need the right environment. For Pittsburgh’s life sciences community, LifeX Labs has created just the right conditions to support the growth of medical innovation.
Launched in 2018 by the University of Pittsburgh, through a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the life sciences accelerator collaborates with Pittsburgh’s world-class research institutions to uncover promising biotech research and guide it through the commercialization process.
LifeX Labs nurtures early-stage biotechnology companies through three forms of programming: community events, a 14-week accelerator and its incubator program. Community events are free and open to the public, including workshops, office hours and a speaker series. The accelerator helps startups get off the ground by teaching founders how to develop a business model, create a pitch deck and begin fundraising.
The real bread and butter of LifeX’s work is its startup residency incubator program. Here, early-stage life sciences companies — or “portfolio companies,” as LifeX calls them — set up shop within LifeX’s coworking and lab spaces, and receive curated, hands-on training with the ultimate goal of raising pre-seed or Series A funding. The program is enriched by participant access to executives-in-residence, industry networks, and a list of service providers that understand the nuanced legal, insurance and regulatory requirements of the biotech industry.
Led by a lean, motivated team that includes engineers, business leaders and scientists, LifeX is cultivating life sciences innovation in Pittsburgh, with the hope of bringing new treatments and devices to patients around the world.
Our mission is to provide a centralized hub for the life sciences industry in Pittsburgh. That’s why we hold a number of events — we want people to know they can come to us for resources, that this is their community and it's around all the time.Colleen M. Cassidy, Ph.D. Director, Biopharmaceutical Active Management Group
I’m a physician by training and a business consultant. By marrying those two things as an executive-in-residence at LifeX, I feel I can reach more patients. It’s not about money. It’s about building innovative devices and drugs which might be able to help those who are suffering.Lisa Boyette, MD, PhD LifeX Executive-in-Residence
LifeX has been an integral part of our company. The team has helped fill in gaps from a product research and management standpoint, lead us through turbulent times and steered us away from pitfalls that we might have otherwise run into.Dustin Riley Full Stack Developer at Noctem Health, LifeX portfolio company
Tell us about the team that runs LifeX:
We’re small, which has allowed us to be collaborative and agile. Currently, we’re at five full-time employees, with one part-time executive-in-residence (our seasoned industry experts) — though we are actively recruiting for more.
We’re all intrinsically motivated people; scrappy, hardworking go-getters. No one ever says, “That’s not my job.” In fact, it’s the opposite, we are always looking for things to fix.
What makes Pittsburgh a fitting location for LifeX?
The University of Pittsburgh ranks fifth in National Institutes of Health funding, but it has needed more focused support in how to commercialize academic research into products that can actually treat patients.
We were founded to be a centralized hub for life sciences resources and support, and a community, so that we can help more entrepreneurs create a path to market. As time goes on and our ecosystem grows, we’ll have a portfolio of companies in Pittsburgh with a significant amount of training in this process.
Our coworking and lab spaces are in the South Side and Lawrenceville neighborhoods, respectively — on the perimeter of Pittsburgh’s Innovation District.
What are some of the unique features that LifeX offers the greater life sciences community in Pittsburgh?
Our free community events are open to everyone and are a great opportunity to find resources or network with other members of the life sciences scene.
● “Office hours” (a no-cost, 30-minute consult with experienced service providers)
● Weekly breakfasts
● Speaker series featuring industry leaders
● Founders’ Forum for leaders in the life sciences space
● Expert workshops
What is the difference between the accelerator and incubator programs?
The accelerator program is designed for early-stage innovators looking to take a leap from the lab to starting a business. The program hosts a new cohort (8 teams) each spring and runs for three and half months. The programming is very structured, with every team learning from the same curriculum, although there is room to work on individual goals.
The incubator program is designed for entrepreneurs who are ready to make a full-time commitment to advancing their startup. Participants set and work toward personalized technical and business milestones through support, mentorship and intensive hands-on training from our team, executives-in-residence and a long list of local life sciences experts and service providers.
How do I apply to be in the incubator program?
Take a look at our website to learn more about the program and fill out a free application.