The paper analyses the development of newly started bioscience firms in terms of their capabilities and changes in their business models. The study consists of eight retrospective case studies stemming from their foundation over a period of 5–15 years. Empirically the paper finds that all the firms quickly develop a technological capability at the time of their foundation, and over time all firms added distinctly new business capabilities. Seven firms radically changed their business models by identifying and exploiting new opportunities by drawing on their existing business capability combined with a new, different technological capability. The initial technological capability – the firms' ‘ticket to entry’– does not seem to be relevant to explain the process of firm development. These initial technological capabilities are surprisingly seldom leveraged within the cumulative process of opening up additional opportunities and business models. The paper concludes by creating a model and discusses some reasons for the findings.