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Pfizer to Grant Golden Tickets to Biotech Startups


It might be your lucky day. Pfizer has issued a call for U.S. startup companies to file proposals to receive a “Golden Ticket” that would provide them a year of bench space at LabCentral.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, LabCentral works with entrepreneurial startups focused on drug development, Johannes Fruehauf, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder and president of LabCentral, told MedTech Boston. Fruehauf said people coming out of academia can apply for space in the lab to build their company.

“We help innovators move science along faster and cheaper than the alternative of paying money to build their own lab facility,” he said.

LabCentral offers a fully equipped, permitted and supported lab for biomedical research. The facility houses roughly 65 companies. They generally stay at the lab for about 15 months.

Access to the lab is highly selective, with only about 20% of applicants gaining acceptance, Freuhauf said. Applicants are vetted in a three-step process. LabCentral looks at the quality of the science, the business plan, the team, funding and resources. They undergo personal interviews and in-person pitches before a selection committee. 

Pfizer is a sponsor of LabCentral. As such, the biopharmaceutical giant has the opportunity to give up to two Golden Tickets to promising startups. This is the second year Pfizer is awarding the prize.

While the startups that receive the tickets — which are worth about $50,000 — benefit by getting a year of rent-free lab space, Pfizer gets to keep its eye on companies that it might want to partner with.

“Pfizer is committed to advancing the most promising science,” Eileen Elliott, Ph.D., a lead for site affairs and external partnerships at Pfizer, said in a statement to MedTech Boston. “LabCentral Golden Tickets represent a creative opportunity to enable startups to pursue innovative research.”

Fruehauf added that many big pharmaceutical companies are actively seeking external innovation to fill their pipeline of drug candidates. 

“This is one effort they can use in that regard,” he said.

But this initiative isn’t just beneficial for startups and LabCentral’s sponsors.

Golden Tickets help accelerate drug development and give companies that could not otherwise afford being in a lab the opportunity to innovate further.

Startups interested in applying can fill out an application by Aug. 23. Finalists will be invited to present their proposals at Pfizer. Winners will be announced at a later date.

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