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Illumina Accelerator Program Adds Five Startups to Eighth Investment Cycle

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Illumina announced today that it has selected five new startups for its accelerator program, which is now in its eighth funding cycle.

The firms chosen for this round of investment include Cognitive Genetics, a molecular diagnostics company developing a non-invasive test for pre-symptomatic risk assessment of common reading and learning disabilities such as dyslexia, speech-sound disorder, and specific language impairment; Avail Bio, a precision oncology startup focused on optimizing patient responses to cancer therapeutics and minimizing the risk of adverse events; Astarte Medical Partners, a personalized medicine company developing proprietary software for the care of preterm infants by providing quantitative data about gut health; VastBiome, a drug discovery company building a proprietary technology platform that mines the gut microbiome for small molecule therapeutics for immuno-oncology and autoimmune diseases; and Algen Biotechnologies, a therapeutic discovery company building a platform to decode functional gene networks for drug discovery.

During the program's six-month cycle, Illumina will provide these companies with access to lab and office space at its campus in the San Francisco Bay Area, which includes access to Illumina sequencing systems and reagents. The startups will also receive capital and seed investment, as well as access to expertise in genomics, next-generation sequencing, and business.

Illumina launched its accelerator in 2014 to provide biotech startups with investment capital, genomics expertise, and other resources. The seventh investment cycle was announced in April, and participants in past cycles include Encoded Genomics, EpiBiome, NextGen Jane, and the Saudi Arabia-based Center of Individualized Diagnostic — the program's first international fellow.

"At Illumina Accelerator, we're focused on providing our entrepreneurs with important resources that will set them up for success," Mostafa Ronaghi, Illumina senior vice president and chief technology officer and co-founder of Illumina Accelerator, said in a statement. "Selected companies receive professional advice that can help guide business strategies and scientific expertise which allows them to innovate in their respective fields."

In August, Illumina also announced that it had partnered with Helix through the accelerator program to support new companies developing DNA-based products for the consumer market. Through the partnership, Helix will offer resources to certain Illumina Accelerator startups that are working on consumer-focused DNA products, including expertise in NGS and bioinformatics, applied genomics, software and product development, regulatory affairs, quality assurance, consumer marketing, and business development.

Illumina said the accelerator program is now accepting applications for its ninth funding cycle, due by Nov. 1.

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