New Orleans BioInnovation Center granted funds to pilot diversity program  in Life-Sciences Entrepreneurship 

Investment from JPMorgan Chase will help launch program in partnership with Xavier  University of Louisiana 

NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 6, 2023) —New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC), in conjunction with Xavier  University of Louisiana (XULA) announced today the receipt of $495,000 in grant funding from the 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. 

Access to capital is a significant barrier to growth for early-stage companies, particularly minority and female entrepreneurs in the Greater New Orleans region. According to a recent study by Tulane  University, 40% of local BIPOC founders and almost 47% of local female founders have used credit card debt to fund their startups. This reliance on personal debt underlines the severity of the funding gap and urgent need to bridge it. 

“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’s collaboration with NOBIC is long established, with the university being represented on the NOBIC board of directors and the two institutions partnering on a recent $500,000 federal program award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. As the nation’s only historically Black and  Catholic Institution, Xavier has long championed the university’s mission to promote a more just and humane society, primarily through social mobility, educational equity, and economic growth. The university participates in the Small Business Development Center, with over 40 years of experience assisting small businesses in increased access to capital and capacity-building. Nationally recognized for 

its prowess and academic excellence in the STEM Fields, Xavier’s commitment to BioInnovation and improving equity is hardwired into the university’s culture.  

“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, President of Xavier University of  Louisiana. “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 has long been a steadfast ally of NOBIC, manifesting its commitment through substantial financial contributions and impactful partnerships. These collaborative endeavors have been instrumental in nurturing over 350 startups, driving job creation, and empowering the infrastructure essential for their growth. JPMorgan Chase champions the ethos that the expansion and robust support of small businesses are pivotal catalysts in diverse employment opportunities and the flourishing of vibrant, inclusive communities across city landscapes. 

“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.” 

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.  

“This generous funding from JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a sign of the growing national recognition of  Louisiana as a major Life Sciences hub and the New Orleans BioInnovation Center as a driver of innovation in the sector,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “By increasing access to those who have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM jobs, we ensure diversity of both people and projects,  allowing for a wider range of creativity and entrepreneurship. This bodes well for the Louisiana  economy as we continue the hard work of creating new jobs, attracting investments, and supporting  workforce diversification.” 

For more information on NOBIC, please visit here