Science-focused PhD holders are in a great position to found a high-tech startup today. At least, that's the thesis of an in-depth and convincing blog post from the NatureJobs blog.
There, Dr Mark Hammond, one of the founders at Deep Science Ventures, lists a series of reasons why higher degrees in science qualify one for a grueling startup cycle. Here's a condensed version of the reasons.
1: They Rely on the Same Skills
Start-ups demand endurance, just like science PhDs. Also elements in common:
“[T]he creativity to think about things beyond current knowledge, to build empathy with other stakeholders, the ability to tell a good story, the ability to excel at something that virtually no one else does, and finally the discipline to take an iterative, hypothesis-led approach.”
2: Cost for Science Startups Is Low
Traditionally, tech startups are great for low-cost initiatives, thanks to rapid growth and cloud software as a service. Now science startups are low cost as well: “Experiments [will soon] become automated by a combination of AI and data-driven approaches alongside robotic platforms such as Transcriptic and SynbiCITE. Even animal labs are emerging in the cloud.”
3: Sweet, Sweet Grant Money
Grants mentioned in the article:
“In the UK virtually all of the research councils (BBSRC, EPSRC and Wellcome, NIHR) and most of the Royal Academies (RAEng, RSC) provide grants as well as the Government (Innovate UK). Science Mag provides a huge list of US grant options including translational grants, and the Horizon 2020 and Knowledge and innovation Centres (KICs) are key in the EU.”
4: VCs Are Increasingly Interested In Science Startups
A16Z, Horizon Ventures, Breakout Labs, FlagShip ventures, YCombinator, and Imperial Innovations all make the list of investors interested in capitalizing on the potential behind science-based, and science/tech hybrid, startups. It's a big shift from the past few years, but it's not slowing down anytime soon.