A partnership led by Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, has been awarded £150,000 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)'s Mentoring Challenge Fund. With matching funding taking the value of the programme to £300,000, SBC, Winning Pitch, BioNow and Business Growth Hub will work with entrepreneurs and small biosciences companies over the next year, coaching them through important developmental steps. If successful, it is expected that this pilot scheme will be followed by a longer-term initiative.

Recognising that biosciences companies gain optimal benefit from sector-specific guidance, a unique feature of this scheme is that its mentors will be drawn from a range of large pharmaceutical and scientific organisations. In addition, there will be careful matching of mentee to mentor, and the pair will then work together on specific goals for the year of the pilot. With SBC and Winning Pitch delivering the mentoring programme in the south of England, and BioNow/Business Growth Hub in the North, it is anticipated that around 50 companies will take part. Launch events will take place in March.

Dr Martino Picardo, CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said 'We believe that a structured mentoring programme for the biosciences industry across the UK is pivotal to the country's economic development and patient benefit. With support for our initiative from the BIS Mentoring Challenge Fund, SBC, Winning Pitch, BioNow and Business Growth Hub have every expectation it will generate significant value for many companies and lay the groundwork for a long-term programme.'