Nucleate Announces 3 Year Sponsorship with Eli Lilly and Company To Support Early-Stage Companies In the Activator Program

3 min readMay 8, 2024

Nucleate, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering future biotech leaders, today announced that Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) will renew its sponsorship for an additional three-year commitment to support early-stage biotech companies emerging from Nucleate’s Activator program. Nucleate’s equity-free Activator program has supported 268 teams over 5 years who have raised more than $300 million and created more than 200 jobs. The renewal of this sponsorship will include grants provided by Lilly to support promising, breakthrough technologies as part of the Eli Lilly and Company Grand Challenge. In a significant expansion of the inaugural sponsorship, the Grand Challenge event will run for three years, with Lilly awarding a total of $300,000 in non-dilutive funding to early-stage biotech companies.

The 2024 Grand Challenge event will take place at Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind. Selected participants will be invited to network with Lilly executives and scientists and compete for $100,000 USD in non-dilutive grant funding. Building on the success of the inaugural Grand Challenge, the grants will span various categories including Therapeutics, Diagnostics, Discovery Platforms, and Delivery. We strongly encourage applications in areas such as neurodegeneration, pain, neuropathy, epilepsy, psychiatry, sensory disorders, and regenerative medicine. Selected participants will also have access to Lilly’s network of scientific and business expertise. Researchers interested in being considered should submit their proposals at lilly.nucleate. before July 12th, 2024. Affiliation with Nucleate is not an application prerequisite.

“Attending the 2023 Eli Lilly and Company Genetic Medicine Grand Challenge was an incredible networking opportunity and provided our early-stage startup with valuable non-dilutive funding to support key de-risking experimentation,” Julie Saba (M.D., Ph.D) of Sphinx Therapeutics remarked. “Thanks to Nucleate and Lilly’s support, we’re not only advancing our science but working to have a tangible impact on those who urgently need novel, life-saving therapies. Nucleate’s leadership has prepared us for the next steps in our start-up journey and given us the opportunity to meet leaders and innovators at Lilly who have thrown their support behind our efforts to cure children with rare fibrotic disease.”

“We are excited to deepen our collaboration with Lilly as we embark on a three-year journey as Platinum Level Partners,” remarked Oliver Dodd, Co-Founder and Treasurer of Nucleate. “This extended commitment allows us to build on the successes of the past and continue empowering the next generation of biotech leaders. Lilly has not only been one of the premier sponsors supporting Nucleate in expanding access to biotech education, but also has provided critical support and mentorship to Activator teams.”

This renewed sponsorship embodies the shared commitment of Lilly and Nucleate to nurturing innovation, fostering collaboration and propelling groundbreaking advancements in genetic medicine.

About Nucleate

Nucleate is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of biotech leaders. With chapters spanning 27 geographic regions and participation from over 140 academic institutions, Nucleate sparks new intellectual communities and embeds emerging talent within a global biotech community. Through open-access educational programming, Nucleate helps democratize biotech innovation — removing barriers and helping founders concentrate on building transformational technologies. Visit for more information, and email if you want to get involved with our programming.