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Flagship Ventures invites scientists to shack up for the summer in Kendall Square

Posted by Scott Kirsner  May 18, 2010 09:16 AM

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Flagship Ventures managing partner Noubar Afeyan says his Cambridge firm is expanding its summer program for scientists with an entrepreneurial inclination; piloted in 2009 with just two Flagship "entrepreneurial fellows," this year it will grow to about 15 graduate students and recent alums. The firm doesn't exactly put out an open call for applicants — there's no information about it on Flagship's Web site, for instance — but rather circulates a call for applicants selectively, in places like MIT's chemical engineering department (where this job description appeared earlier in 2010.) "It's not something that's open for all comers," Afeyan says. "But we've reached out broadly across the U.S. We broadcast it across many different universities."

The fellows will spend the summer working with Flagship on the creation of a handful of new companies as part of what the firm calls the Flagship Venture Labs, an internal start-up factory that Afeyan says has spawned 22 businesses so far, including companies like Helicos Biosciences, Joule Unlimited, LS9, and BG Medicine. One sustainability-related company that last year's fellows worked on, Afeyan says, has since gotten seed funding from Flagship (less than one million dollars), though it's still in stealth mode.

The summer program, Afeyan says, "continues to be an experiment. The idea was that we should see if we can take some folks who have scientific and other backgrounds that are pertinent to the projects we're interested in, and get them working on this intense start-up activity."

This summer's fellowship program kicks off early next month.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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