Getting Involved with the Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Community in San Francisco

One of my goals for my move to San Francisco was to find some meaningful volunteer opportunities to help me build my new network – both professionally and personally. Luckily, I met the all-volunteer Canadian Entrepreneurs in Life Sciences organization and took on the role of Director of Marketing to help with creating content. Here is my December post:


New Canadian in the City

I moved from my hometown of Vancouver, Canada to San Francisco this Summer with an open mind and eagerness to immerse myself in the Bay Area and learn as much as I could about the vibrant technology and innovation ecosystem. Thanks to one friendly connection after the other (such as introductions from members of Canada’s Digital Technologies Supercluster team and friends at the Canadian Consulate), I was introduced to Joanne Fedeyko, CELS (Canadian Entrepreneurs in Life Sciences) Director and CEO of Connection Silicon Valley, who invited me to a Summer Reception hosted by Springboard Enterprises – A community of influencers who are dedicated to building high-growth technology-oriented companies led by women.

(Springboard Summer Event in a Biotech district in San Francisco) 

This particular event was organized to celebrate their 2018 Life Science alumnae and the launch of their Digital Health programalongside advisors, Council members, and other alumnae. It was an energizing evening with talks from Portfolia (an entrepreneurial investing platform designed for women) and Female Sexual Health Thought Leader, Rachel Braun Scherl. 

Something I experienced right away was the willingness for people to help one another. As soon as I said I was new to town, one of the Council Members gave me her card and said to message her any time. I met founders, investors and employees of innovative companies and made several new connections that evening (whom I followed up with for subsequent coffee meetings!).

Finding ways to get involved through partnerships and volunteer 

The most notable connection of the evening was Joanne introducing me to Richard Ayllon, Managing Director of CELS. The three of us immediately connected some dots: I was new and looking for opportunities to get involved with San Francisco companies, and they were running a volunteer-based organization. We shared the mutual passion and interest of supporting Canadian Entrepreneurs and strengthening connections between Canadians and those in the SF Bay Area.

Through Joanne and other Canadian-related connections, I was meeting  a ton of people who lived in the Bay Area and wanted to help build bridges.

(Connections Silicon Valley Event hosted at The Vault co-working space, Me pictured with Rahim Fazal – CEO SVAcademy, Joanne Fedeyko – CELS Director and CEO Connection Silicon Valley) 

Given my previous Marketing and Partnerships experience at LifeSciences BC, a not-for-profit industry association in British Columbia, and most recently, in Research and Innovation at the University of British Columbia, there was a natural fit to roll up my sleeves to support and build upon CELS initiatives!

The all-volunteer Leadership team and Advisory Board includes experienced Life Science professionals and entrepreneurs from across Canada and the Bay Area devoting their time to areas such as: Programming, Mentorship, Sponsorship and more. You can read about the entire team here. Other partners have been invaluable in helping to commit time and resources for raising awareness and building community.

My Role with CELS, and the exciting initiatives taking place

As part of my role as Director, Marketing I compiled key highlights and notes from our Pan-Canadian Virtual Panel:

I summarize Key take-aways from the panel members that included:

  • Terry Cowl, Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner, Consulate General of Canada, (San Francisco)
  • Elton Satusky, Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (San Francisco)
  • Cedric Bisson, Partner, Teralys Capital (Montreal)
  • Fouzia Laghrissi, AstraZeneca (Switzerland)
  • James Taylor, Co-Founder, CEO, Precision Nanosystems (Vancouver)

(L-R: Iraina Miles –  CELS Director and Canadian Trade Commissioner, Grace Wei – COO EnCellin, Terry Cowl – Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner, Richard Ayllon – CELS Managing Director, Elton Satusky – Partner WSGR, Me, Steve Karp – Executive Director Innovation Services, CLSI ) 

“Get down to the Silicon Valley and start making connections!”

“You need to manage the relationship with internal champions, and also spend time influencing people externally. Find key opinion leaders and speak to them as part of your Public Relations efforts”.

“To make connections, you need to make time over there. Being down in San Francisco is very easy and accessible – it’s like taking the bus!”Get Involved!

There are exciting plans coming down the pipeline, including a presence during the 37th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference Event in January. The Canada Meeting Center will be open during JPM Conference week, offering free causal meeting space for Canadian Life Science professionals. 
Location: Axxiom Hotel 2 blocks away from the main conference site.

Sponsored by the Canadian Consulate – San Francisco

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