July 13, 2016

IndieBio’s Third Class of Fourteen Startups to be Unveiled at Demo Day

Members-of-IndieBio’s-second-class-which-launched-in-February-of-2016.
Members of IndieBio’s second class, which launched in February of 2016.

Fourteen startups are comprised in the latest round of the IndieBio SF accelerator and will make their debut at the program’s Demo Day. This cluster of startups represents the third ever class to be launched out of biotech accelerator IndieBio. The members of the group, which can be viewed at a glance here, look to be a colorful and exciting mix of the latest innovators.

At this critical milestone, Ryan Bethencourt, program director of IndieBio SF, talked about the reiterated the accelerator’s mission and discussed the progress in its strategy. “At IndieBio, we know that entrepreneurship can be taught, our mission is to support and accelerate the next generation of biotech entrepreneurs coming out of their PhD’s, MD’s, MBA’s and PostDocs to build the biotechnologies they’ve dreamed of building, independently,” he said. “We’re continuing to grow and evolve, with a laser focus on helping the companies accelerate their commercialization, focusing on customer partnerships and sales as well as de-risking scale up.”

IndieBio Participants are Gearing Up for the Launch

The fourteen companies featured in the launch are looking forward to the event on July 14th, when they will be given an opportunity to broadcast their companies’ progress to a live audience in San Francisco and to a virtual audience around the world.

Maria Soloveychik, CEO of SyntheX Labs, expressed her company’s eagerness about Demo Day and the IndieBio program as a whole. “Demo day will be an exciting mix of companies showcasing the far reaches of synthetic bio and biotechnology, and how we can make drastic improvements in our lifetimes using biology as a tool,” she said. “Being surrounded by such a diversity of companies is very intellectually stimulating. Especially as we brainstorm together to solve problems relating to building up our businesses that none of us had previously encountered.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Sophia Wang, CEO of MycoWorks. “The technical leaps we’ve made and the relationships we’re building have helped to define the core products, target markets, and ideal partners for our business moving forward. We’re excited to share these developments with the world on Demo Day, along with our cohort of amazing peer founders who will introduce their own tremendous contributions to industries ranging from healthcare and bioinformatics to sustainable food- and ag-tech.”

At Demo Day, each of the fourteen participants will present a short pitch on their company. All proceedings will be streamed live and can be viewed here starting at 3:00 pm PST.  A recorded version of the live stream will also be available to view after Demo Day.

From Mushroom-based Plastics to Synthetic Kidneys

The third and most recent batch of IndieBio graduates is nothing if not varied. The round features startups from nearly all of the accelerator’s many categories who are developing solutions to a wide range of problems. Their innovations include healthcare resources, biotech tools, consumer products, and more.

A number of the budding enterprises are harnessing synthetic biology in order to bring improved food and cosmetics solutions to market. While MiraculeX seeks to develop low-calorie plant-based sweeteners, Willow Cup is engineering plant-based alternatives to milk products.  BioNascent is improving infant formula by replacing the bovine proteins in dairy-based formula with human breast milk proteins and Ardra aims to produce an array of bio-based chemicals for cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical applications.

Ryan Bethencourt, IndieBio SF Program Director, speaks at Demo Day.

Ryan Bethencourt, IndieBio SF Program Director, speaks at Demo Day.

Healthcare and Biomedicine were Hot this Round

Healthcare and diagnostics startups were particularly well-represented in this round, with a great deal of internal diversity in these categories. Among the companies offering diagnostic tools, Knox Medical Diagnostics aims to deliver at-home monitors for predicting asthma attacks, mFluidX is developing a chip-based DNA test that can rapidly and accurately diagnose a number of diseases, and Jungla has developed a software platform that can accurately model the impacts of mutations and accelerate diagnostic development.

Other startups offering health solutions include Qidni Labs, which is working on an artificial kidney with the effectiveness and longevity of a human transplant. OneSkin Technologies, on the other hand, is developing human skin tissue model that closely mimics biological human skin for more accurate and humane pharmaceutical and cosmetic testing.

SyntheX stands out as the only therapeutics company present in the Spring 2016 class. The company is developing improved molecular selection techniques to accelerate discovery and development of treatments for intractable diseases like cancer.

SyntheX CEO Maria Soloveychik offered high praise for the accelerator program and its role in taking her company from concept to reality.

“SyntheX joined IndieBio at the ideation stage. We had an idea for a new and improved drug making and screening platform and a list of proteins we wanted to target based on years of work and readings. IndieBio provided us with the opportunity to build it into reality. We are very grateful to the team for believing in our vision, and taking a chance on such an early stage company.”

A Mixed Bag of Brilliant Innovations

The remaining startups in the graduating class come from a wide range of categories.  Endura Bio is an agricultural engineering startup that is developing crop plants that are tolerant to salt groundwater contamination and drought so that greater area of arable land can be accessed.  

AstRoNA Biotechnologies is innovating a handheld device that can be used to detect common pathogenic sources of food poisoning. Amaryllis Nucleics is developing a biotech tool that performs RNA sequencing at an eighth of current costs. And MycoWorks is a biomaterials company harnessing the mycelium of mushrooms to create sustainable leather alternatives.

Sophia Wang of MycoWorks spoke about the foundational advantage the accelerator program has given her company as they hit the ground running out of the launch. “The technical leaps we’ve made and the relationships we’ve built [at IndieBio] have helped to define the core products, target markets, and ideal partners for our business moving forward. We’ll be applying the wisdom and experience we’ve gained at IndieBio towards our next phase of growth as we refine and scale our tech towards establishing a pilot production facility in the coming year.”

We will continue to keep an eye this exciting batch of growing startups over the coming months and years as they all put their newly-earned IndieBio wisdom into action.

Tune into the live stream of Demo Day to get a more in-depth overview of the sensational participants in this latest batch of disruptive enterprises that are being released into the biotech landscape.