“What we saw was initially the opportunity to have space,” Yomtov said, “but what they brought to the table was the ability to have advisers.” Yomtov had been an engineer in medical device startups and is a pioneer in the field of neurostimulation, but in his new small company, he has to perform a range of activities.
“It has been a phenomenal experience, and it has allowed me to round out my entrepreneurial résumé,” Yomtov said.
The ability to offer lab space has been critical to North Shore InnoVentures’ growth in the past year. The incubator rents a lab full of high-tech equipment from New England PharmAssociates, which provides consulting and management services to life sciences companies. The lab is just down the hall from North Shore InnoVentures’ offices.
“That gave us the opportunity to really grow,” said Farmer, who is a scientist with a Ph.D. in pharmacology and physiology from Duke University. She has managed research labs and directed product development, marketing and communications for Baxter Healthcare’s Hemoglobin Therapeutics Division.
Four companies were part of the incubator in September 2011. By January 2012, five companies had come into the lab, and by June 2012, 18 companies were involved.
In the lab, Farmer shows the space used by Cell Assay Innovations, whose cell-based assay technologies are used in drug development, and HepatoChem, whose technology chemically produces metabolites of drugs used to speed up drug research and development. In April, HepatoChem was awarded a $330,000 loan from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public agency putting in place the state’s $1 billion life sciences initiative.
While it varies, companies pay about $2,000 a month to use the lab, far less than it would cost to set up a lab from scratch. Companies also get safety support, waste disposal, Internet access, utilities, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other amenities.