Below are answers to some of the most common questions about our unique program. If you don’t see the answer to your question, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
PharmStars is a global accelerator for digital health startups seeking pharma (including biotech) clients or partners. Our program offers tailored education and personalized mentoring to startups with the aim of achieving greater success when engaging with pharma. Our pharma members enjoy premium access to a select group of promising, groomed digital health startups that align with their digital health strategies.
Startups apply online to participate in a cohort of ten companies. The cohort participates in a 10-week educational and mentoring program (PharmaU(TM)) that culminates with a private, members-only Showcase Event. Our groomed startups present their refined pitches to pharma members and may have one-on-one meetings with members at the Showcase Event.
The PharmStars curriculum is currently focused on US-based pharma companies. Participating startups, however, can be based anywhere.
PharmaU is PharmStars’ educational program, developed and led by the PharmStars team. PharmaU consists of three parts:
1) a structured curriculum to teach startups what they need to know about pharma;
2) individualized coaching and mentoring for startups on how to successfully engage pharma; and
3) a series of workshops and seminars for pharma members, known as “Executive Ed,” on how to implement digital health programs and partnerships.
Our classes and interactive sessions focus on the most important topics related to the pharma industry, including: pharma’s internal structure and functions, the pharma business model, regulatory drivers, pharma-startup deal structures, and current industry trends. The curriculum is taught by PharmStars' expert faculty and occasional external speakers. There will be ample opportunity for peer-to-peer sharing and discussion. Our curriculum will be both educational and fun.
Classes will be held virtually on Mondays and Thursdays 1:00 – 3:00 pm ET weekly from September 1 to November 10, 2021.
Startups will select mutually agreeable meeting times with the PharmStars staff for mentoring sessions. We expect each startup will have at least three meetings over the course of the program.
PharmaU classes and mentoring will be done virtually. Startups based anywhere in the world can participate.
Each participating startup is expected to send two representatives from their senior leadership to PharmaU. These representatives must have decision-making authority to represent the startup when engaging in conversations with prospective pharma clients. Ideally, the representatives would be the startup’s CEO and another senior leader. To gain the full value from our accelerator, representatives are expected to participate in the entire 10-week program.
Yes. We have an extensive curriculum that builds on itself. Because our curriculum is cumulative, startup representatives are required to attend all PharmaU classes.
Participants are expected to make every effort to attend all classes. Since there will be two representatives from each startup, we expect you to coordinate with your company’s other representative to catch up if you miss any material. In extenuating circumstances, classes can be recorded and made available.
Our expert PharmStars staff (not an ad hoc mentor network) provides each startup with individualized guidance on enhancing their business case and preparing to engage with pharma. Topics include defining value proposition and business models, successful pitch preparation, personalized deal structures, and more.
Each cohort culminates with the private Showcase Event. All startups will pitch to an audience of PharmStars pharma members. Private, one-on-one meetings between startups and pharma members will occur at the Showcase Event.
The decision as to whether the Showcase Event will be live or virtual will be made a few months prior to the event.
The Showcase Event will be followed by a three-week promotional “blackout” period. During this time, startups and pharma members will have the unique opportunity to meet and negotiate with each other. Startups, pharma members, and PharmStars will refrain from using social media or other methods to publicize the identities of the participating startups from the beginning of the program until the blackout period is over.
We are accepting digital health startups that want to engage pharma as clients or partners, would benefit from priority access to our pharma members, and recognize the importance of an enhanced understanding of pharma. Digital health startups that are interested in receiving coaching to create clearer value propositions and better pitches to engage pharma are ideal candidates.
Startups eligible for the program should have a prototype or product developed which they are ready to offer to pharma.
All digital health startups with innovative pharma solutions are welcome to apply. Priority will be given to startups with innovative digital health solutions that enhance and improve clinical trials. For example, startups with technology to increase the speed and efficiency of clinical trials, optimize trial participant recruitment and retention, or improve data collection and management (including remote monitoring of trial participants) will be given preference. Future cohorts will likely have other thematic priorities.
We will choose digital health startups to join the accelerator based on:
Startups that participate in PharmStars can benefit in numerous ways. Through PharmaU, participants will learn about the pharma ecosystem and how to successfully navigate pharma organizations. Startups will also receive personalized mentoring to assist them in preparing and articulating a value proposition that resonates with pharma. Startups will meet our pharma members during the Showcase Event and may be invited to one-on-one meetings with them. Startups will also have the opportunity to be part of a community with other pharma-focused startups.
Startups will gain tremendous insight into the functioning of pharma companies over the course of PharmaU, which may influence their plans for how to best engage pharma. As a result of personalized mentorship, startups may pivot their business model and/or description of their value proposition. Startups get only one chance to make a good first impression with pharma. By the conclusion of our program, our startups will be able to put their best foot forward. It is in the best interest of participating startups to wait to initiate any new contacts with pharma until they have completed the accelerator. Startups enrolled in PharmStars are strongly discouraged from new pharma business engagements from the time of acceptance into PharmStars until the conclusion of the blackout period (three weeks after the Showcase Event).
In 2021, there will be one cohort consisting of 10 startups participating in a 10-week program. Starting in 2022, there will be at least two cohorts per year.
The application for the program is available under the “Apply” tab. Applications will be accepted from June 1 to July 21, 2021.
Yes, you must be at least 18 years old to participate in PharmStars.
There is a no fee to apply. Startups accepted into the first cohort will pay a nominal fee of $1000, which is a small fraction of the cost and value of the program.
PharmStars is of greatest value to startups that are trying to learn how to successfully engage with pharma clients, customers, and partners.
Yes. Accelerators have different focuses and offer different benefits. PharmStars is the first and only accelerator for digital health startups focused on understanding the pharma industry and learning how pharma “thinks.” Our expert staff has extensive pharma experience and will assist startups in refining their value proposition and crafting a pitch that resonates with pharma.
Acceptances will be communicated by email on or around August 23, 2021. Startups must respond within 3 days to accept or decline the opportunity to join PharmStars. If no response is received within 3 days, the invitation will be extended to another applicant.
Yes. If an applicant is not selected, the startup may apply for future cohorts. In addition, as part of the application process, a startup may indicate whether it would like us to keep its application on file for consideration during future application cycles.
Yes, the application needs to be completed online in one sitting. Sorry! However, we recommend downloading a copy of the application from the application tab of this website, working on the application offline, and then pasting your answers into the application.
Each pharma member designates a champion to liaise between their firm and PharmStars' startups, including at the Showcase Event. The champion will be director-level or higher with strong internal relationships, demonstrated interest and comfort in working with startups, and familiarity with their firm’s digital health needs and strategy.
No, members are not involved in selection. In fact, participating startups’ identities will be kept confidential from members until the startups have finished PharmaU and are fully ready to engage. Members will meet startups at the Showcase Event.
Yes, our pharma members have input into the selection of our cohort themes.
The “Executive Ed” portion of PharmaU provides optional, proprietary educational seminars and workshops on key topics for our pharma member liaisons.
No, PharmStars does not take any equity from startups. We also are not involved in any deals or partnerships between startups and members.
No, PharmStars will not be involved in the negotiations between members and startups. Our role is to select, educate, and groom startups, preparing them to have constructive conversations with pharma. The rest is up to each startup.
No, startups are required to keep PharmaU curriculum and materials confidential.
Startups must keep their selection and participation in PharmStars confidential throughout the program until the conclusion of the blackout period, which ends three weeks after the Showcase Event. Exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis for fundraising purposes.
No, startups and members are not allowed to share confidential information in the application or at any time during the program.
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