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Cache DNA Obtains $256K NSF Grant for Scalable DNA Storage Tech

NEW YORK – Cache DNA has won a $256,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation to develop its scalable DNA digital data storage technology, the company said on Monday.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinout recently filed for patents on a plasmid-based "file system" capable of storing potentially millions of terabytes of data as DNA molecules.

Cache's technology maintains DNA integrity at room temperature using new materials, while simultaneously enabling search and retrieval operations through a DNA barcoding scheme. Most other approaches to long-term DNA storage require energy-intensive cooling systems, leading to large physical storage space requirements, as well as robotics to efficiently access samples.

Cache's method involves encasing barcoded plasmids in glass capsules, which can be picked out using complementary barcodes, followed by fluorescence-activated sorting and sequencing.

Small businesses that obtain a Phase I SBIR grant become eligible to apply for a Phase II SBIR worth up to $1 million, along with up to $500,000 in matching funds from qualifying third-party investments or sales.

"NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering," Andrea Belz, director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF, said in a statement.