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BBSRC Invests $16M in Synthetic Biology Startup Fund

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council said today that it has provided £10 million ($16.1 million) to launch an investment fund that will fund early-stage companies in the UK that are focused on commercializing synthetic biology technologies.

The BBSRC said the private investment company Midven will manage the fund, which will provide investments, strategic support, and help startup companies leverage private capital. Midven's Rainbow Seed Fund specializes in supporting firms that spin out from publicly-funded research programs.

The new BBSRC investment is a response to a recommendation from a 2012 'roadmap' plan drafted by an independent panel that, among a number of other proposals, urged the UK to invest in and support the development of businesses that aim to apply synthetic biology in a range of commercial fields.

Midven already is supported by several of the UK's science funding research councils, and has leveraged over £150 million in private investments and supported 29 startup tech companies, BBSRC said.

"For synthetic biology to deliver benefits to society we need to translate basic research into useful products, tools, and services," Celia Caulcott, BBSRC's executive director of innovation and skills, said in a statement. "It is notoriously hard for early-stage companies to do this because of difficulties moving from an establishment phase towards sustainability. The first round of finance is always the hardest to find and this new fund provides a solution."

Along with the BBSRC, Midven's core partners in the Rainbow Seed Fund include the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, the Natural Environment Research Council, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

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