CLSA Inspire QuickFire Challenge For Diverse Innovators Kicks Off


Offers opportunity for underrepresented California-based innovators to receive grant funding.

South San Francisco – April 14, 2021 – California Life Sciences Association (CLSA), the trade association representing California’s life sciences sector, AbbVie and 5AM Ventures, together with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, is proud to launch the CLSA Inspire QuickFire Challenge for Diverse Innovators, the first challenge in the CLSA Inspire series. This challenge offers an opportunity for California-based innovators who are Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander to receive grant funding and business advising through CLSA’s FAST Advisory Program to advance their science or technologies.

Black, Hispanic, and Native American people are historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs.[1] Black people make up 11% of the U.S. workforce overall but represent 9% of STEM workers, while Hispanics comprise 16% of the U.S. workforce but only 7% of all STEM workers.[2] Native Americans are also underrepresented in health care[3] and make up only .3% the engineering workforce.[4] We see a similar disparity in funding with Black founders having received 1.7% of venture capital while Hispanic founders received 1.3% from 2018-2019.[5]

“The CLSA Inspire QuickFire Challenges are but one of the many important programs we are supporting as part of our Racial and Social Equity Initiative. We need to ensure that the life sciences sector represents all parts of our society and, to do so, we must create opportunities for our current and future innovators to succeed” said CLSA’s President and CEO Mike Guerra.

The innovator(s) with the best idea, technology, or potential solution that aims to improve healthcare will receive up to $150,000 in grant funding from CLSA and be invited to participate in their FAST Advisory Program, receiving commercialization advisement from a tailored group of industry veterans.

Apply at by July 30, 2021.

The QuickFire Challenges are managed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, with the goal to address today’s greatest health care challenges.

Through the Racial and Social Equity Initiative, CLSA and its member companies commit to help increase STEM opportunities for under-represented student populations, hire, develop, and advance under-represented talent populations, invest in diverse entrepreneurs and board members, and provide underserved communities with equitable access to and coverage for care.


About California Life Sciences Association (CLSA)

California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) is the state’s largest and most influential life sciences advocacy and business leadership organization. With offices in Sacramento, San Diego, South San Francisco, and Washington DC, CLSA works closely with industry, government, academia and others to shape public policy, improve access to innovative technologies and grow California’s life sciences economy. CLSA serves biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics companies, research universities and institutes, investors and service providers throughout the Golden State.  Visit CLSA at, and follow us on Twitter @CALifeSciencesFacebookInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube.

About AbbVie
AbbVie’s mission is to discover and deliver innovative medicines that solve serious health issues today and address the medical challenges of tomorrow. We strive to have a remarkable impact on people’s lives across several key therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, neuroscience, eye care, virology, women’s health and gastroenterology, in addition to products and services across its Allergan Aesthetics portfolio. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at Follow @abbvie on TwitterFacebookInstagramYouTube and LinkedIn.


Founded in 2002, 5AM actively invests in next-generation biotech companies. With approximately $1.5 billion raised since inception, 5AM has invested in 73 companies including Arvinas (NASDAQ: ARVN), Audentes Therapeutics (NASDAQ: BOLD), Crinetics Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CRNX), DVS Sciences (acquired by Fluidigm), Envoy Therapeutics (acquired by Takeda), Flexion Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FLXN), Homology Medicines (NASDAQ: FIXX), Ikaria (acquired by Mallinckrodt), Ilypsa (acquired by Amgen), Marcadia Biotech (acquired by Roche), Novira Therapeutics (acquired by J&J), Pearl Therapeutics (acquired by AstraZeneca) and Relypsa (acquired by Vifor Pharma). For more information, please visit

[1] “Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering.” National Scient Foundation, 2019. Accessed March 2021.

[2] “Diversity in the STEM workforce varies widely across jobs.” Pew Research Social Trends, 2018. Accessed March 2021.


[4] Research and Policy Brief, “American Indian/ Alaska Natives in Engineering”. National Action. Council for Minorities in Engineering, 2014. Accessed March 2021.

[5] “Diversity in U.S. Startups.” Diversity VC & RateMyInvestor, 2020. Accessed March, 2021.