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CLSI 2018 Year in Review

December 19, 2018

As we come to the end of 2018, CLSI is once again grateful to the outstanding companies, partners, advisors, volunteers, students, educators, sponsors and friends who have contributed to our vibrant California life science ecosystem.

This year saw CLSI expand our successful entrepreneurship program, FAST, to foreign startups and researchers. Hundreds of individuals were able to build their skills and knowledge through CLSI’s professional development offerings. We unveiled a new initiative focused on advancing women’s careers. Our education programs celebrated outstanding high school student achievement while creating access and developing pathways to life science careers for over 1500 students in Bay Area high schools and community colleges. The genomics documentary we are partnering on got legs. And CLSI refreshed its look with new logos.

Below are just a few highlights from the year.


  • FAST: Thirteen companies went through CLSI’s FAST Advisory Program in 2018. As of this Fall, FAST now also includes 2-3 in-scope companies supported by CARB-X in each session.
  • CLSI’s 63 FAST companies have collectively raised over $840M, 24 have Series A or higher investments, 14 companies are generating revenue, 5 have successfully exited, and 14 have formed strategic partnerships since leaving the program. FAST graduates have nearly tripled their workforce, creating 305 new jobs. This success is in part due to the over 6900 hours offered by CLSI’s network of over 300 advisors.
  • FAST International: CLSI brought advisory services to 8 Canadian startups via a partnership with the Canadian Technology Accelerator-SF. This is the first collaboration in CLSI’s FAST International program for foreign companies seeking to gain a commercial foothold in U.S. markets. In addition to completing the Canadian program, CLSI will be providing FAST International services to startups and product developers from Denmark and Scotland in 2019.
  • CARB-X: CLSI continued to serve as an accelerator to CARB-X, the globe’s largest public-private partnership devoted to accelerating antibacterial innovation, which has awarded over $90M in grants to date to 35 portfolio companies/product-developers in 6 countries. The program is a boost to California, with 26% of grantees securing almost 50% of the funds to date.
  • PARTNERING: CLSI tapped its vast network of CA startups to bring partnering opportunities to Vir Biotechnology and investors with CTIC Capital.
  • INNOVATION SERIES: CLSI’s new Innovation Series explored Early Interactions with the FDA (Hogan Lovells), Managing Successful Growth (JPMorgan Chase), How to Find the Right Lab Space (Kidder Matthews) and Expanding Phase I Clinical Trials (Nucleus Network).


  • 2018 CA Workforce Trends Report: CLSI and the Biocom Institute released their biennial workforce trends report, identifying the most pressing talent needs of the California life sciences industry, at the BIO International Convention in June. The report was later presented at an HR conference organized by HUB University and at a legislative staffer’s briefing organized by Assembly pro tem Kevin Mullin.
  • CLSI Professional Development Workshops: More than 250 professionals took advantage of over 15 professional development courses offered by CLSI Partners in 2018. In addition to our standard BioBasics, Drug Development and Labs to Leadership offerings, CLSI rolled out new courses in Understanding Drug Pricing, Leveraging Your Leadership, and Leadership Edge for Women.


CLSI unveiled its new Women Leading Life Sciences Initiative in 2018 to provide mentoring, networking, and career development opportunities to advance females of all ages.

  • Women Life Science Executive Dinners: CLSI convened three Women Executive Dinners – with Gunderson Dettmer, Latham & Watkins, and Moss Adams – that brought together women executives from mature, emerging and investor companies for private dinners and peer-to-peer exchanges on industry issues.
  • CSweetener Panel on Executive Mentoring for Women: highlighted CSweetener’s executive mentoring program for women in or on the path to the C-Suite by featuring both mentees and mentors in the program.
  • Leadership Edge for Women: a new 6-week series offered by CLSI Partner “The Leadership Edge”, that explores themes such as Finding Your Authentic Leadership Style, Finding Your Niche for Career Success, and Networking for Success. The series continues in early 2019.


  • Amgen Bay Area BioGENEius Challenge: Shloka Janapaty of San Jose, CA, was selected CLSI’s 2018 Amgen Bay Area BioGENEius Challenge first-place winner for her research on a novel, fast, low-cost approach to achieving nearly 100% degradation of low-density polyethylene, a commonly used plastic that normally takes about a thousand years to degrade. She went on to take Honorable Mention in the International BioGENEius Global Environmental Challenge at BIO 2018.
  • Career Pathways and Bio-Community programs: CLSI and partners served over 1500 students in high schools and community colleges throughout the Bay Area in 2018. This included connecting students with industry volunteers for hands-on science, labs, career talks, speed networking, mock interviews, resume review, job shadowing, Capstone mentoring, and more.
  • NexGENEGirls: CLSI partner NexGeneGirls offered rigorous hands-on-training, internships including one in the Gladstone Institute lab of Noble Laurette Shinya Yamanaka) and leadership development to ten high school female students of color in the NexGeneGirls Spring Bootcamp and Summer Science Academy.


CLSI and other non-profits across the country are partnering on an exciting documentary project that examines genomics as a technical force capable of fundamentally transforming society and the human condition. Producers from Life Sciences Outreach have raised funds to seed production of the “sizzle reel”, the promotional short that will be used to pitch the project to mainstream distributors such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or HBO GO. Initial filmed interviews include luminaries such as Stephen Kingsmore (Rady Chilren’s Institute for Genomic Medicine), Eric Topol (Scripps), Stelios Papadopoulos (Biogen), and Dirk van den Boom (JunoDx). The producers have also launched a GoFundMe site to raise additional funds to support the project.


CLSI adopted a fresh look in 2018, as did its FAST Advisory Program.