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by Lucia Maffei / via The Business Journals

Two biotech startups from the Bay State, two from Canada and one from California will take part in MassBio’s first installment of its accelerator program MassBioDrive, culminating in an in-person Demo Day and cash stipends for each venture.

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, an industry group better known as MassBio, announced on Tuesday the five startups that will start the eight-week hybrid program on March 21. Each selected company, which will be paired with three to five mentors for the program, raised less than $1 million in equity-based funding before being accepted.

Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, president and COO of MassBio, said in an interview that MassBioDrive is an “excellent starting point” for early-stage entrepreneurs and “very complementary” to other accelerator and mentorship programs that exist in Massachusetts.

The program itself is an evolution of MassConnect, a mentorship-based program that MassBio established in 2011. The difference between the two initiatives is that MassBio wanted its new accelerator program to be driven through curriculum, she said.

“We wanted to curate a very intimate group of mentors to support these entrepreneurs, and we wanted at the center to ensure diversity of experience, of science, geography and representation,” she said.

Jason Cordeiro, chief business officer of MassBio, said each company in the first cohort will receive $2,500 from Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) after Demo Day, slated for May 5.

“We’re going to fill the room on the Demo Day with many of the leaders in the industry as it relates to funding, venture capital and partners in big biopharma,” Cordeiro said. “So hopefully, if we can find a good partner, or some funding for these companies at the end of the program, that would be ideal.”

More than 70 companies from around the world applied to be part of the inaugural MassBioDrive’s cohort. Here’s what to know about the participating startups, according to MassBio:

Artificial Axon Labs | Topsfield

Artificial Axon Labs is developing a drug discovery platform to find medicines for neurodegenerative diseases. The technology combines biocompatible materials, 3D-printed artificial nerve fibers and a patient’s human cells to create a drug for multiple sclerosis.

Atorvia Health Technologies | Ottawa, Canada

Atorvia is developing a kidney-targeted peptide that prevents regulated cell death and kidney failure as a way to treat patients with severe medical conditions, such as acute kidney injury.

Modulari-T Biosciences | Montreal, Canada

Modulari-T is a preclinical-stage startup developing a platform to reprogram immune cells to treat cancer and other diseases. The startup claims its MARC technology is twice as potent as CAR-T — an immunotherapy that uses T cells to fight diseases — and reduces side-effects tenfold.

PhenoTarget Biosciences | San Diego, California

PhenoTarget Biosciences Inc. calls itself a “modality-agnostic” biotech developing treatments for a range of unmet medical needs, including oncology, fibrosis, cardiovascular diseases and infectious diseases.

SYTE.bio | Newton

SYTE.bio is an early-stage synthetic biology company focused on the discovery, development, and future commercialization of precision therapeutics using its proprietary Linear DNA and Circular RNA technology platforms.

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