International life sciences companies working in cell and gene therapy, biosciences, diagnostics, digital health, medical devices, MedTech, and therapeutics have a partner skilled in helping them expand to Greater Philadelphia and other parts of the United States. WorldUpstart, a Philadelphia-based United States accelerator founded by Karina Sotnik, has already assisted 54 companies from 16 countries with their U.S. expansion plans within the past three years.

“With the grim statistic of only one in four companies making the U.S. expansion, we are literally doubling their odds of success here,” said Sotnik.

Among those WorldUpstart has helped introduce to Greater Philadelphia are Ribbon Biolabs, a DNA synthesis company based in Vienna, Austria, and Modulari-T, a Montreal, Canada, company. Modulari-T built the Modular Antigen Receptor Complex (MARC), the first synthetic immune receptor that can teach the immune system to attack and cure cancer.

“The accelerator delivered! It felt like we were flying; the tightly paced sessions followed by in-depth mentoring really prepared us for our U.S. expansion. The program delivered months of work in only a few weeks, an incredible value,” said David Contoir-White, Co-founder of Modulari-T.

Sotnik, a leader in commercialization, incubation, acceleration, and global soft-landing programs for startups, universities, and international organizations, launched WorldUpstart a decade ago. She was soon tapped to assist the University of Pennsylvania and the University City Science Center with accelerator projects but is now back running WorldUpstart full-time. She is joined by Managing Director Stephanie Vogel, an experienced business developer and international marketer.

WorldUpstart is focused on two main missions:

  • Providing soft-landing support and expansion roadmaps for companies looking to gain fast traction and reliable growth in the U.S. through the U.S. Market Gateway Accelerator.
  • Helping universities and government agencies around the world create and implement programs to help commercialize academic innovations for the marketplace.
Coming This Fall: MedTech and Life Science Accelerator

The next U.S. Market Gateway Accelerator program, which is targeted at international MedTech and life science companies, will be held from September 11 – November 9, 2023. The hybrid program features online and in-person components, with participants visiting Philadelphia in November 2023. Growth companies from Australia, France, Germany, Israel, and Taiwan are already on board to participate. Recruitment continues through July 15, 2023, with the cohort capped at 10-12 companies.

Participants will meet relevant experts “who will uncover what companies don’t know they don’t know and provide practical advice that gives companies the information they need to succeed,” Sotnik said. Topics include:

  • Legal Aspects (incorporation, IP protection, and immigration)
  • Healthcare in the U.S. (reimbursement strategies, regulatory issues, marketing to patients, providers, and payers)
  • Operations in the U.S. (finding and hiring talent, site selection, R&D credits, international banking, accounting, and taxation)
  • Fundraising and Business Communications (cultural differences in doing business in the U.S., investors’ expectations, sources of funding, and pitch structure)

Mentorship will be another key component of the program, with participants accessing one-on-one virtual mentoring sessions with industry leaders and investors. The program also facilitates introductions to industry stakeholders in Greater Philadelphia.

For the in-person programming, WorldUpstart is partnering with the Quartermaster Science + Technology Park, a new life sciences park in Philadelphia that includes wet and dry lab space for startups and established companies to conduct research and development, as well as biomanufacturing. Participants will meet at the Quartermaster for the industry showcase and investor’s roundtable. They will also attend the PACT Capital Conference, being held November 8 – 9, 2023, in Philadelphia, the largest capital conference in the region, which draws more than 1,000 participants and has been a catalyst for venture funding.

More Plans

Beyond the accelerator programs, WorldUpstart is focused on assisting women entrepreneurs. Sotnik is on the advisory council for Tech Nordic Advocates (Denmark, Finland, and Norway) and InTech Founders (Denmark) – accelerators for female entrepreneurs. She is also a mentor for the Select Global Women in Tech (SGWIT) Program through SelectUSA. “We love working with and empowering female entrepreneurs,” Sotnik said, “and we are working on collaborations with FemTech Healthcare clusters in other countries.”

Link here to apply to WorldUpstart’s U.S. Market Gateway Accelerator, September 11 – November 9, 2023, and visit the Chamber’s Select Greater Philadelphia website to access valuable resources for companies looking to become a part of the Greater Philadelphia community.