With Bay Area start-up accelerators Y Combinator and Indie Bio having funded more than 235 start-ups, the Silicon Valley biotech entrepreneurs have endless opportunities to commercialize research. Now a brand new accelerator fueled by tech money called Petri, will offer similar opportunities and $250,000+ in seed funding to Boston-based entrepreneurs. Through Petri’s 12-month program, entrepreneurs can rapidly translate their research into commercial successes. The program will bring together groundbreaking innovations from the fields of engineering, biology and technology to develop novel solutions to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. “The time is now” said Petri co-founder Tony Kulesa.
The three brains behind the idea
With years of technical, venture capital and entrepreneurial experience in the field, co-founders Brian Baynes, founder of Midori Health, Kaleido Biosciences, Celexion and Codon Devices and Tony Kulesa, founding Director of the MIT BioMakerspace and Instructor at the MIT Department of Biological Engineering, are confident in the Petri accelerator program’s opportunities.
“We stumbled upon opportunities at the intersection of biology and engineering, but there was a gap in the market, and no one was paying enough attention”
The third brain, serving as Petri’s chairman is born and raised Bostonian, Jamie Goldstein. Jamie is a seasoned entrepreneur and started the firm Pillar, three years ago. Pillar, which providing the capital to start Petri, was created as an early stage venture capital firm with a co-founding group of 16 CEOs who run some of the biggest tech companies in Boston, including TripAdvisor and Wayfarer. These companies are the big fish in the pond, totaling around $50 billion in market cap. “The idea was to combine all of our lessons learned, to help give our companies the best possible advantage” Jamie explains.
Synthetic biology is just one of the areas that Petri is supporting at the intersection of biology and tech. “We stumbled upon opportunities at the intersection of biology and engineering, but there was a gap in the market between health IT investors and traditional life science investors, and no one was paying enough attention and giving support to these new bio entrepreneurs ” Jamie says.
With the three Petri founders seeing the same opportunity from three different perspectives, Boston now provides aspiring entrepreneurs with a platform that is much needed.
The Boston’s synthetic biology ecosystem showing 47 companies. SynBioBeta
The unmatched entrepreneurial opportunities
Successful entrepreneurs and industry leaders from Ginkgo Bioworks, Twist Bioscience, Exact Sciences, Insitro, Asimov, PathAI will be a part of Petri’s program, serving as team advisors. The program offers teams a fully resourced biology lab, and the flexible amounts of capital of $250,000 or greater. As one of the strongest biology and engineering ecosystems in the world, Boston offers teams the opportunity to make use of its talent, capital and leading research. “With a co-founding group here of leaders from Ginkgo and Twist and Insitro, etc. Petri is a direct learning from what we saw working for us at Pillar. And that’s why we’re so excited about the three of us coming together.” Jamie says with excitement.
“A good network is everything”. Here are the 12 industry leaders and trailblazers, set to advise the Petri entrepreneurs. Benjamin Kellogg
The commercialization of research is not an easy task and Brian has broken it down to three major obstacles:
- Not having the right team: Find the best people in the world that are doing what you’re trying to do
- Not securing protected intellectual property: Scientists are trained to share their findings as much and as widely as they can, but for commercialization, the protection of it is key
- Not having good strategy development and business model: The mindset of an entrepreneur coming out of academia needs to be asking the right questions about the market and business strategy to be a successful entrepreneur
These factors are among the top reasons as to why start-up companies fail.“These three themes come up all the time, we talked to aspiring entrepreneurs, and that and those are some of the barriers that we really hope to, in partnership with these folks, help them get across.” Brian explains.
Petri is shaking up the Boston biotech-cluster and great innovations are bound to be a result of it. “If we can increase the flow of great people and capital into this space, will be will have been successful.” Brian says. Petri’s launch yields more opportunity for the intersection and symbiosis of the tech industry and biology, a trend just in its beginning. This will be an important and exciting journey to follow.
Note: I am the founder of SynBioBeta, the innovation network for the synthetic biology industry. Hear more about synthetic biology’s impact on drug development and more at SynBioBeta 2019, October 1-3 in San Francisco. Some of the companies that I write about are sponsors of the SynBioBeta conference (click here for a full list of sponsors).