Biotech nonprofit Nucleate to launch chapter in Miami to empower nextgen leaders

By  Chloe Kirk and Natalie Ricciardi / Nucleate

How do you prepare scientists to be successful in biotechnology after graduate school?

It’s a question academia has struggled to answer for trainees who have performed potentially life-saving or paradigm shifting research during their academic studies. But Nucleate, a Boston-based trainee-led organization, has figured out how to bridge this knowledge gap!

Founded in 2019 by Soufiane Aboulhouda and Oliver Dodd, PhD candidates at Harvard University, Nucleate provides hands-on leadership and entrepreneurship opportunities for academic trainees. These opportunities directly translate into the skills and network necessary for biotech entrepreneurship and other industry related career paths.

Nucleate now has more than 20 chapters across the globe. They’ve expanded to include biotech programming from world-leaders in the field, fellowships in venture capital and policy, annual summits, and host regional and global accelerators through their flagship Activator program.

As of Fall 2022, Florida joined the ranks as a new Nucleate chapter. Based in Miami and co-founded by two University of Miami Biochemistry PhD candidates, Natalie Ricciardi and Chloe Kirk, they have quickly grown to include a core leadership team spanning University of Miami, University of Central Florida, and University of South Florida.

“We founded the Nucleate Florida chapter because we saw the influx of tech capital into Miami with comparatively little growth overlap in the Florida biotech industry” explains Natalie Ricciardi, co-founder and co-managing director of Nucleate Florida. “Researchers want to start life science companies in Florida but are often incentivized to migrate to other biotech hubs like Boston or the Bay area because of the lack of a clear roadmap or resources here.”

This message is echoed by Miami biotech leaders Dr. Carlos Bustamante, adjunct Stanford and University of Miami professor and founder of Hialeah-based Galatea Bio, and Brad Loncar, a biotechnology industry investor and University of Miami alumni, who now provide mentoring as advisors to the Nucleate Florida team.

This past month, Nucleate Florida held its first major chapter event as a networking night sponsored by the national Nucleate chapter and Manatech, the tech innovation branch of Mana Common responsible for developing sections of Downtown and Wynwood Miami.

Keynote speaker Brad Loncar started off the night detailing the opportunity for Miami to capitalize on the expanding biotech movement, and brought up multiple colleagues to bring home these points. “We all have a responsibility to be communicators,” Brad emphasized before handing the stage over to David Schull, President of healthcare and technology public relations company Russo Partners. The take home message of Brad’s talk was to “ignite a sense of community and connection in the biotech system of South Florida.”

After a short break, the event reconvened with a panel of Florida biotech leaders: Ty Gabriel, a biotech investor, Carlos Liverani, co-founder and CEO of Spectral, and Dr. Carlos Bustamante. The group shared their insight into the advantages and hurdles of developing South Florida as a biotech hub as well as advice for research trainees interested in creating their own companies.

This networking event created a unique space for trainees, faculty, and seasoned players in the Florida biotech ecosystem to be in the same room, sparking powerful new mentoring relationships for tomorrow’s life science leaders. Events like this showcase the interest and resources available to further develop a self-sustaining Florida biotech ecosystem.

See the recap video here.

Nucleate Florida will be holding monthly in-person and virtual events and hosting their launch event later this summer. Stay in-the-loop by following us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter!

Photo at top of post: left to right, Natalie Ricciardi, Co-MD Nucleate FL; Dana Godrich, VP of Strategy Nucleate FL; Olivia Bosquet, VP of Communications Nucleate FL; Chloe Kirk, Co-MD Nucleate FL

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