New Orleans BioInnovation Center Granted Funds for Diversity Program

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans BioInnovation Center and Xavier University of Louisiana have received $495,000 in grant funding from JPMorgan Chase & Co. The investment will be used to launch the Advancing Diversity in Life-Sciences Entrepreneurship project, aimed at increasing access to capital for people who historically are underrepresented in the biosciences industry.

“New Orleans is brimming with innovative minds, but there is a clear disparity when it comes to diversity within the life-science ecosystem,” said Kris Khalil, executive director of NOBIC. “Our vision for this program builds on our successful efforts to nurture the biotech startup scene in New Orleans, and this grant will enable us to narrow the funding gap by connecting underrepresented business founders with dynamic sources of capital.”

Xavier is represented on the NOBIC board of directors and the two institutions partnered on a recent $500,000 federal program award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. 

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“For almost one hundred years, Xavier has been dedicated to advancing causes for equity and promoting a more just and humane society,” said Reynold Verret, the university’s president. “This collaboration will enable the creation of an equitable and diverse ecosystem in the biotech and biosciences industries, unlocking new opportunities for women and people of color in the greater New Orleans area through access to capital and fostering cooperation to reduce barriers in the field.” 

JPMorgan Chase said it has helped fund 350 startups.

“JPMorgan Chase is committed to fostering an equitable economy where innovation and entrepreneurship can thrive,” said Victoria Adams Phipps, vice president, global philanthropy and program officer at JPMorgan Chase. “Our support for the New Orleans BioInnovation Center and Xavier University of Louisiana will cultivate and empower a diverse pipeline of life science ventures that will go on to create local jobs and contribute to our growing economy.”

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The pilot program will begin with strategic outreach planning to increase awareness and engagement with the local business investment community among potential entrepreneurs within universities, particularly Louisiana’s historically Black colleges and universities. This will involve outreach to existing BIPOC and/or female entrepreneurs, researchers, professors, and student innovators who demonstrate interest and aptitude for technical product development and commercialization. In tandem, the program will begin the process of building a robust network of public and private capital sources willing to support the initiative, with a focus on Louisiana State Small Credit Business Initiative funders.

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