“The best examples of disruptive technologies that could change our future are in the new fields of synthetic biology, synthetic genomics, and genome engineering,” explained famed genomicist Craig Venter in BBC’s 2007 Richard Dimbleby Lecture. It’s not hard to see why the man who helped sequence the first human genome would be enthusiastic about the prospects of synthetic genomics. But just imagine the possibility of using synthetic DNA to create custom microorganisms that could produce essentially any compound possible. This futuristic scenario might not be as far removed from the present as we think, according to Venter, who was the subject of a recent profile in The New York Times titled “Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World.”
To advance the nascent field of synthetic biology, Singularity University (Mountain View, CA) has hooked up with Triple Ring Technologies (Newark, CA) to launch the incubator known as SynBio Startup Launchpad. The organization, which is modeled in part after Y Combinator (Mountain View, CA) seed accelerator, has chosen three startups to be incubated: Evolutionary Solutions, Soil Gene, and Modern Meadow.
The first of those, Evolutionary Solutions, will work to develop an oligo- to genome-scale synthesis device using microfluidics. The company was founded by Kettner Griswold and Paul Sebexen of Georgia Tech. The two men are Thiel Fellows, who had received $100,000 to drop out of college to become entrepreneurs.
Evolutionary Solutions, Soil Gene, and Modern Meadow will receive up to $50,000 in funding, four months of mentorship in synthetic biology, and access to state-of-the-art laboratory space. The startups plan on developing a prototype of their product over the course of the next four months.
The program was the brain child of Andrew Hessel, co-chair the biotechnology and bioinformatics track at the Singularity University and John Cumbers, a synthetic biology researcher at the NASA Ames Research Center. Hessel is also the co-founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, a novel cooperative biotechnology company working to develop open source viral therapies for cancer.
In a talk from 2010, Hessel explains why he believes that synthetic biology will be the next big information technologies industry:
Link: SynBio Startup Launchpad