Next-generation sequencing has reached the “lift-off stage,” according to Yuri Milner.
He’s not just saying that; he’s putting his money behind it. The famed tech investor is joining Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) in committing to helping early-stage genomics companies as part of a new Mission Bay accelerator.
Illumina said today it’s launching a program aimed at speeding up time-to-market and lowering barriers to entry for startups with promising next-generation sequencing applications.
The price of sequencing has come down tremendously as technology has advanced. (Illumina reminded us of that last month at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, when it revealed a new machine it said could sequence a full human genome for $1,000). That’s opened the door for all kinds of new applications in agriculture, forensics, consumer genetics and diagnostics.
Each session of Illumina’s accelerator program will run for six months – a bit longer than many of the other health IT programs. Illumina will also take a 10 percent stake in each company.
In exchange, the selected companies get $100,000 in the form of access to lab space, instruments and reagents from Illumina, plus business and technology guidance. They’ll also get access to Illumina’s customer and venture networks, and banking services and credit from Silicon Valley Bank.
As an added bonus, selected companies will have the option of accepting $100,000 from Milner in exchange for convertible notes. Milner already has money in two genomics companies: GenapSys and 23andMe. Best known for his firm’s investments in Facebook, Spotify, Twitter and Groupon, he’s also an investor in digital health companies drchrono and First Opinion.
Teams that apply for the accelerator can comprise up to five members who are researchers or entrepreneurs looking to bring an NGS application to market. The application period runs through May 16 for the first session beginning August 1.
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