NEW YORK – Illumina announced on Tuesday the funding of seven new startups as part of its Illumina Accelerator business incubator, including a firm from India and the first three companies funded at Illumina Accelerator Cambridge in the UK.
During each six-month funding cycle, the companies will receive an undisclosed amount of seed investment, access to Illumina sequencing systems and reagents, and lab space adjacent to Illumina's Bay Area and Cambridge, UK campuses, respectively, as well as access to guidance and expertise. The cohort includes several firms developing genomics tools or diagnostics.
Neurolytic Healthcare, an Oxford, UK-based firm, is developing genomics-driven diagnostics and personalized treatment recommendations for neurological conditions. Tailor Bio, spun out of Cancer Research UK and the University of Cambridge, is a cancer diagnostics company that is developing a platform to identify patterns in tumor DNA to predict response to therapy. Meanwhile, London-based Alchemab Therapeutics is pursuing antibody-based drug discovery and development.
AarogyaAI Innovations, based in India, is developing rapid diagnostics for drug resistance in tuberculosis. WellSim Biomedical Technologies is working on a high-throughput exosome processing instrument for use in clinical diagnostics. Pluton Biosciences is developing products mined from microbes for use in agriculture and pest control. Finally, Medic Life Sciences is building a preclinical set of tumor samples based on CRISPR genome editing and cancer organoids.
Illumina Accelerator has partnered with First In Ventures to provide convertible notes for the incoming startups in the US and UK. Wing Venture Capital will continue their support in providing convertible notes in the US, and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority will support the companies in the UK.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Illumina's campuses are limited to business critical operations. The Illumina Accelerator is "operating digitally with personalized office hours, coaching sessions, and other customized initiatives for the time being," an Illumina spokesperson said in an email. "Selectively, we make meaningful connections for our startups to both internal and external experts […]." The companies will have access to their labs once local restrictions allow, in accordance with proper social distancing measures. Since 2014, Illumina Accelerator has invested in 45 genomics startups from across the world, which have collectively raised about $400 million in venture capital funding.