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November 10, 2021

Enventure’s Origins: Making Life Science Innovation Accessible to All

Nearly a decade ago, five grad students interested in Life Science Entrepreneurship saw an opportunity to unite the healthcare innovation community in Houston - it all started in Professor Jack Gill’s class at Rice University, read on to learn how Enventure came to be.

Enventure was founded in 2012 with the goal of fueling life science innovation through the principles of continuity, community, and career exploration. 

Our founders,  Will Clifton, Amy Hurwitz, Joanna Nathan, Triparna Ghosh, and Matthew Pautz, were inspired by Professor Jack Gill’s renowned “Life Science Entrepreneurship” course hosted for many years at Rice University, that was free and open to anyone. Professor Gill’s course, before he retired in 2021, was a cherished treasure of the Houston life science innovation community since 2007 because of the way it frames life science innovation as a set of accessible, learnable skills and offers an introduction to those skills that are free and open to all community members. The course proved to be one of the few events able to bring together stakeholders from all corners of the life science innovation community together into a collaborative, progress-oriented dialogue. 

"Rice University’s Life Science Entrepreneur class, MGMT/BIOE: 633 Role of Physicians, Scientists, Engineers and MBAs helped empower over 2,000 ambitious young entrepreneurs.  Enventure, an offspring of 633, has become a primary driver for launching life science entrepreneurs and propelling Houston into a nationally leading role in venture-backed startups." - Dr. Jack M. Gill, Rice Professor, Entrepreneur, VC and Philanthropist

Enventure’s founders saw the value of the community this course created each spring for advanced degree candidates, young professionals, and students who were looking for alternatives to academic career paths. Jack Gill’s course helped so many of them jump-start their careers through networking with life science founders and learning about the workings of the life science entrepreneurship industry. Enventure’s team of founders began exploring the idea of creating an organization that could maintain the community developed during Professor Gill’s 6-week course and continue it year-round. 

From this idea, Enventure was born.

To this day, Enventure maintains a tight-knit, familial community despite its growth, and our ability to create such an open, approachable environment is due in large part to the fact that the organization was founded by a group of colleagues who simply came together to address an unmet need they saw in their own community. 

“Enventure feels like a family. The common goal of making healthcare innovation accessible to all in order to improve health outcomes brings together a special group of individuals that fosters lasting friendships and professional networks.” - Will Clifton, Co-founder, Enventure

Houston is home to a large and diverse cohort of life science advanced degree students, but apart from Professor Gill’s class, there was very little infrastructure in place to help those students navigate the job search or learn how to enter the life science entrepreneurship industry in those days. Enventure, getting its start as a small, student-led nonprofit,  began to fill this unmet need by hosting regular, weekly coffee or happy hour meetups to hear from students and other stakeholders about their needs and where they would benefit from increased support. 

A common theme that emerged from these meetups was students feeling like they had a potentially powerful idea, but they had no knowledge of how to turn that idea into a company or product. 

As a result of this feedback, Enventure started offering year-round Biodesign workshops to teach students the fundamentals of life science entrepreneurship. “Life science innovation is a skill that can be taught” was our mantra. As our knowledge and networks grew, our workshops and programming grew with us. Nine years since our founding, we are still a student-led nonprofit helping fellow advanced degree students gain foundational knowledge and practical experience in life science entrepreneurship. But now, we are also able to provide professional services including consulting and comprehensive diligence assessments for startups and investors. Enventure has grown into a hub of connectivity and information, filling gaps and fostering strategic relationships to streamline progress and fuel innovation in Houston’s life science community. 

"As Enventure's programming & community expanded, Jack's influence could be found in nearly every new program -- Bench-to-Biotech (now Inspire) with several keynotes facilitated by Jack's intros, BioVentures with Jack's Life Science Entrepreneurship course as a feeder, Ignite Conference spots for non-MBAs through Enventure, and much more." - Amy Hurwitz, Co-Founder, Enventure

Our services offer value to a variety of key stakeholders in life science innovation including advanced degree students, life science founders, and investors.

If you’re an advanced degree student, we have several programs designed to help connect you with employment opportunities and provide you with hands-on experience working for real companies. 

  • ENRICH offers students the opportunity to work on short-term consulting and diligence projects at life science companies. 
  • VICE is a virtual competition program that allows students to act as investors, critiquing local startups’ pitches and identifying companies that would make a sound investment. It’s a chance to gain diligence experience and network with start-ups and investors. 
  • Basecamp is a half-day hackathon where you can get your feet wet in the life science innovation space by applying your skills to a real-world project. This casual, exploratory program requires a commitment of only a few hours and is open to all community members from high school students to company founders. 
  • Our Biodesign workshops are available for registration each spring for students looking to participate in interactive lectures to gain a foundational understanding of the life science innovation process.

Our programs run on schedules that align with academic semesters, so students can participate without having to pause their course of study. 

In addition to the practical experience, advanced degree students gain in fields such as consulting and startups, involvement in the Enventure community also provides an opportunity to surround themselves with a close, collaborative community of like-minded individuals and to expand their professional networks. 

Life science innovation is a learnable skill, and it’s within your reach. By getting involved with Enventure, you’re opening up a world of opportunity to learn these skills, you're gaining a network of support to help you navigate the industry side of life science, and you're building a name for yourself among potential future employers. 

If you’re a life science founder, our Insights market research can connect you with the talent you need to move your company toward its next milestone. 

Employ teams of advanced degree students and young professionals to conduct market research, diligence, and other consultancy projects to deliver high-value information based on reliable data to help you make the right decisions for the future of your business. 

If you’re a founder, corporate executive, or life science researcher looking to transition into the startup space, Bioventures might be the bridge you’ve been looking for. The program is a 10-week, hands-on immersion into life science entrepreneurship, where teams of leaders with diverse experience in life science, business, and technology turn an idea into a company.

As our networks and leadership teams have grown, Enventure has been able to continually expand our programming to meet the changing needs of Houston’s life science innovation community and broaden the scope of stakeholders to whom we provide services. 

We do this all while maintaining an inviting, accessible, communal environment because the heart of our mission is to fuel innovation by opening more doors and making the tools for successful life science innovation accessible to all.

We look forward to meeting you, join our Slack community today!