View More 2023, Scientific Sessions, Session Coverage

Professional development session to offer tips to secure funding for innovative ideas


Estimated Read Time:

3 minutes

Kathryn Zavala, PhD
Kathryn Zavala, PhD

Every day, clinicians and researchers conceive of new methods and devices for improving the lives of people with diabetes. Bringing these concepts to fruition often requires a substantial amount of capital and a business acumen that is not taught at medical school.

A professional development session on Saturday, June 24, will address some of the challenges of taking an idea from the bench to bedside. Learn How to Pitch Your Entrepreneurial Idea and Get Funding will take place at 11:30 a.m. PT in Room 24 of the San Diego Convention Center.

“We see innovation happening everywhere with everyone, and there’s this concept of moving ideas from the lab, and it’s not just corporations that are making these products happen,” said Kathryn Zavala, PhD, COO and BioTools Innovator Managing Director, MedTech Innovator. “It’s everyone.”

Dr. Zavala and Sumita Pennathur, PhD, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, will explain what a pitch to an investor should include and, importantly, what it should not.

“The whole idea is to learn from people who have experience evaluating pitches and evaluating them as somebody who is going to be funding those novel ideas,” Dr. Zavala said. “This will give first-time founders and scientific founders a leg up on being able to pitch their ideas to someone who is going to fund it, because, eventually, you are going to need someone to fund it.”

The presenters will discuss what investors look for in a pitch, including the pitch deck and the person presenting the pitch.

The pitch deck, a series of slides providing an overview of the proposed business and summarizing the business plan, is often the first impression a potential investor has of an idea.

“Oftentimes, there’s a whole bunch of questions in the application for funding, and the judges often skip over what people wrote down and just look at the pitch deck. They just want to get a feel for what the company is all about,” Dr. Zavala said. The nonprofit accelerator for medical device, digital health, and diagnostic companies where she works evaluates 1,000 applications a year.

“You want to think about the fundamentals of your pitch. This is your opportunity to tell a story about your company, yourself, and what you’re doing, and to energize people to believe in you,” Dr. Zavala continued.

It’s crucial to craft a pitch that will resonate with the audience that will hear or see it—pitches can be in a written format only or accompanied by an oral presentation, she noted.

“Sometimes the audience is not just investors,” Dr. Zavala explained. “Sometimes you’re appealing to other stakeholders in the ecosystem that can help you with your business.”

On Saturday afternoon at the Scientific Sessions, the Innovation Challenge will showcase six diabetes innovators pitching their best ideas on how to improve the lives of people living with diabetes to a panel of potential funders and a live audience for the opportunity to have a private audience with the investors.