NotCo’s plant-based foods are on store shelves, but its AI engine “Giuseppe” is the real business

Matias Muchnik and Karim Pichara founded NotCo to modernize R&D in the food industry. While it might look like a plant-based food company, NotCo is in the data and AI business—and aims to disrupt R&D in many industries that use animal and plant ingredients.

It was March 2015 and Matias Muchnik was bracing for rejection. The vegan mayonnaise entrepreneur and former banking intern entered the office of Karim Pichara, Professor of Computer Science at UC- Chile and an AI researcher at Harvard. Matias needed a co-founder with AI expertise to launch a firm that he hoped could revolutionize plant-based food R&D. 

“I thought there was zero chance of convincing Karim to jump on board this thing,” says Matias, who’d never met Karim before. Matias only knew him by reputation; seven friends had studied AI under Karim. 

Matias Muchnik, founder & CEO of NotCo

Matias pitched Karim on developing an AI that could propose plant-based formulas that would produce meat and dairy substitutes tasty enough to supplant (no pun intended) the animal-based versions—and thereby reduce their carbon and overall environmental footprints. Matias had a great pitch, but he was also a 20-something with no scientific background. 

To Matias’ shock, Karim was impressed. He joined Matias’ fledgling NotCo as a co-founder and CTO. NotCo went on to raise $443 million and reach a reported $1.5 billion valuation, with backing from SOSV, Bezos Expeditions, Tiger Global, and Kaszek Ventures, among others. Just as impressively, Matias and Karim launched animal-based plant and dairy products like NotMilk, NotBurgers, and NotChicken and landed on the shelves of Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Amazon and on the menus at Shake Shack, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Burger King. 

But what did any of that have to do with AI? Far more than those consumer launches might suggest. NotCo developed those products using a proprietary AI that is transforming the speed, cost, and precision of developing plant-based foods. They call the AI “Giuseppe,” and it’s the foundation for their critical partnerships with leading food companies. Products like NotMilk, NotBurgers, and NotChicken are not the end game for NotCo. “We built a Trojan horse, and we’re just starting to release the soldiers,” says Matias. 

The middle of three brothers and the son of a banker, Matias was raised on Bloomberg TV and dinner table conversations about finance. The family rebel growing up, he played rugby instead of soccer like his siblings. Rugby turned Matias into a foodie and health nut. He wanted a diet that would improve his performance on the pitch, but nutrition experts never seemed to agree on which foods were “healthy.” Vegan products were particularly confusing. They were the holy grail one day and processed junk food the next. 

“Whenever an industry is generating that much confusion, it’s because the industry is broken and there are conflicts of interest,” says Matias, who chose to eat a plant-forward, flexitarian diet.

Matias earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Chile and landed an internship in banking. Entrepreneurs seemed to be the happiest of his banking clients. That observation, combined with his passion for food, led Matias to launch a vegan mayo startup. 

Matias’s venture, Eggless Company, produced, packed, labeled, and shipped vegan mayo from a friend’s garage. It was the right product, explains Matias, because Chileans put mayo on just about everything. Eggless Mayo became the top-selling alt-mayo in the country.

Matias exited Eggless Company in 2015 and joined an entrepreneurship bootcamp at the University of California-Berkely to figure out his next move in the food world. Matias knew that plant-based products had to capture mass market omnivores to make a difference for the environment. 

While plant-based meat and dairy were getting tastier, the glacial pace of food R&D made innovation too slow and prices too high. Food R&D was “archaic,” says Matias. “It’s literally two people in lab coats doing trial and error.” 

Karim Pichara and Matias Muchnik, co-founders, NotCo

At Berkeley, Matias learned that pharmaceutical R&D relied on AI to discover new medicines and formulations. What if food companies could do the same? To find out, Matias needed an AI expert, which is how he found himself in Karim’s office in 2015. At the time, Karim was applying AI to astronomy, but he quickly decided that changing the food system would be more meaningful.

He and Matias began developing NotCo’s AI, which they dubbed “Giuseppe” in June 2015. They soon discovered that Giuseppe was limited by a lack of data on the plant molecules that govern our experience of food, from smell and taste to texture and appearance.

So, Matias got an introduction to Pablo Zamora, a Chilean biotechnology professor at University of California-Davis who specialized in plant physiology. He referred Matias to Rodrigo Contreras Arredondo, a professor at the University of Santiago with similar credentials. Rodrigo made significant upgrades to Giuseppe. Both eventually joined NotCo—Pablo as a co-founder and Rodrigo as manager of research.

With Giuseppe working better and NotCo ready to test product-market fit, the team pitched The Hershey Company on developing plant-based milk chocolate. They flew to Hershey headquarters in Pennsylvania to present NotChocolate, their first product. Hershey loved it — so much so that they asked NotCo to sign an exclusive partnership. Matias and Karim declined, fearing that an exclusive deal would cap NotCo’s potential.

Throughout 2016, Matias and his PhD co-founders made, packaged, labeled, and delivered their first commercial product, NotMayo, for Chilean supermarkets. Meanwhile, Matias kept an eye on food tech news, which is how he stumbled upon IndieBio, venture firm SOSV’s biotech startup program. IndieBio had invested in two of the biggest names in animal-free foods: UPSIDE Foods (formerly known as Memphis Meats) and The EVERY Company (fka Clara Foods). “I thought, holy shit,” says Matias, “IndieBio is the NASA of food.”

The NotCo team sent over food samples and joined several calls with IndieBio’s crew to review their science and technology. NotCo was accepted. 

Matias represented NotCo full-time in San Francisco, while Karim traveled back and forth from Santiago. They mostly remember pitching investors—again and again and again—as they refined NotCo’s story.

That work paid off. Halfway through the program, IndieBio scheduled a trip to meet investors in Argentina. After pitching Hernán Kazah, a co-founder of MercadoLibre (Latin America’s largest tech company), NotCo raised a $3 million seed round led by his venture firm, Kaszek. NotCo graduated IndieBio in September 2017 with a powerful story and the funding to start work on new products.

NotCo promotional image. Photo credit: NotCo.

Matias and Karim decided to expand NotCo in Latin America first. That came with a challenging advantage. US and European vegans had learned to tolerate meh-tasting substitutes for meat and dairy. In Latin America, there was almost no vegan culture. NotCo would only grow if it outcompeted animal foods. 

Giuseppe made that possible. Giuseppe analyzes food at a molecular level to come up with plant-based recipes that replicate the flavor, texture, and nutritional profile, shortening the R&D process from years to months. Giuseppe draws on a proprietary database of more than 300,000 edible plants, which means it sometimes produces surprising formulations—like using pineapple and cabbage juices to make NotMilk taste like milk.

Matias and Karim believe that Giuseppe will become the R&D intelligence inside major food brands. That’s Giuseppe’s role in the Kraft Heinz Not Company joint venture created to come up with plant-based versions of Kraft’s classic products. Giuseppe can also help food scientists rapidly reformulate existing products if, for instance, supply chain issues, disease, or climate change lead to ingredient shortages. Today, Giuseppe’s outputs have led to more than twenty-four international patents.

Potentially, Giuseppe could disrupt R&D in any industry that relies on complex recipes, including supplements, pet care, and beauty products. That’s why Matias calls NotCo a Trojan horse—it’s a data company disguised as a food company. And it’s now behind the ramparts, positioned to replace animal ingredients in numerous industries. That’s welcome news for our warming planet.

California Cultured Partners with Japanese Chocolate Giant Meiji for Cell-Based Chocolate Products

Chocolates made from California Cultured cell-cultivated cocoa. Source: California Cultured

California Cultured has entered a 10-year commercial partnership with Japanese chocolate giant Meiji, incorporating the company’s “Flavanol Cocoa Powder” into several packaged goods distributed by Meiji.

Dark chocolate is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions; it is second only to beef when it comes to the top GHG-emitting foods. And that’s on top of the chocolate industry’s long history of contributing to mass deforestation, diminishing cocoa tree numbers, and human rights abuses.

California Cultured has developed a sustainable solution. The company makes cocoa in fermentation tanks, a climate-resilient approach that also addresses deforestation and labor exploitation. This resulting products are not only attractive to consumers, but chocolate makers as well. Enter Japanese conglomerate Meiji, who realized the value in the sustainable supply chain solution that California Cultured provides.

“Meiji came to us because unpredictable weather patterns – including heavy rainfall – have disrupted cacao cultivation, leading to a consecutive year of supply shortages,” California Cultured’s head of strategy Steve Stearns told Green Queen. “This scarcity has driven futures prices to unprecedented levels, reflecting the strain on supply and demand dynamics within the chocolate industry.”

California Cultured is targeting products in the nutraceutical, chocolate, and better-for-you snacks markets with the Meiji deal, per Green Queen.

“Meiji’s collaboration with California Cultured involves the seamless integration of the startup’s cocoa powder, cultivated from cells rather than traditional cocoa beans, into an array of confectionery and wellness products tailored for both the US and Japanese markets,” explained Stearns. “This comprehensive product line encompasses chocolates, truffles, and wellness-enhancing chocolate products designed for consumer use,” he added.

As California Cultured is a cellular agriculture company, it is currently pursuing approval from food safety regulators across the globe, including a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) designation from the FDA. The company also has some exciting products lined up; it expects to release Flavanol Cocoa Powder – a food that has been found to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular disease by 16% and cardiovascular deaths by 27% – in the country in late 2024.

RizLab’s CytoTracker provides highly accurate white blood cell count with single drop of blood

IndieBio’s RizLab has developed an ultra-compact, all-electronic cytometer capable of quantifying white blood cells and the key subtypes with just a prick of the finger—with 97% accuracy, as validated by the recent clinical trial results published in PLOS One.

RizLab’s CytoTracker can quantify important WBC parameters such as the total white blood cell count, the absolute neutrophil count, and the absolute lymphocyte count, along with the percentages. To date, the existing FDA-approved commercially available analyzers for white blood cell count analysis are expensive, bulky, and require professionals to use.

In collaboration with a clinical team at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Pediatric Clinical Research Center led by Dr. Tanaya Bhwomick and the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine, the CytoTracker was successfully tested in trials by pitting the device in a head-to-head comparison with a lab benchtop hematology analyzer, a conventional blood testing technique.

Founded in 2018 by Mehdi Javanmard, RizLab Health is a spinoff of the Nano Bioelectronics Laboratory at Rutgers University.

“We set out to solve one of the holy grails of medicine, which is to analyze a tiny amount of a patient’s blood in a way to give guidance to clinicians and improve clinical outcomes,” Javanmard said. “We believe this will have a huge impact in infectious disease, oncology, and psychiatry.”

Javanmard added: “Others have made failed attempts to tackle this holy grail by aiming to identify dozens or even hundreds of biochemical constituents with a single drop of blood. Such attempts are fundamentally very difficult. As a result, we found it to be much more realistic to focus only on the white blood cells with the key sub-types as a start.”

Announcing IndieBio New York Demo Day, January 24

Note: This event took place on January 24, 2024. You can watch the replay of the demo day here.

IndieBio New York is hosting its first demo day of the year, on January 24, 2024.

The demo day will feature nine companies fresh out of IndieBio NY’s program (cohort #7) that are working on breakthrough innovations in climate-resilient agriculture, diagnostics, carbon & methane upcycling, cancer therapeutics, and more. TechCrunch recently published the companies with brief descriptions here. There are three ways to participate: in-person (investors only), virtual (investors only – includes access to decks and founders’ Calendly links) and virtual (general admission). Here are the links to register:

  • In-Person for Investors: 1/24 from 2:00 – 5:00 PM EST  Register
  • Virtual for Investors: 1/24 at 5:00 PM EST – Register
  • Virtual for General Audience: 1/24 at 5:00 PM EST – Register

For the in-person event, we will send the demo day location to registrants once they are verified. For the virtual events, we will send links shortly in advance of the event. SOSV will verify the registrations for both investor-only editions of the demo day. 

IndieBio’s BioFluff and TomTex secure funding rounds amid sustainable textile boom

BioFluff at the launch of Savian. Source: Stella McCartney

“‘Why is there no great alternative to regular animal or plastic furs?’ is the million-dollar question that led biochemist Martin Stübler to launch biomaterials company Biofluff,” wrote WWD, in its article on the plant-based fur alternative’s recent $2.5M seed round.

“It was important to us not to use plant material that’s in competition with a human food crop. We are taking advantage of the waste stream of [an] agricultural main product,” Stübler told WWD. “Our fiber is a naturally existing fiber that doesn’t have to be spun or extruded. There’s no plastic anywhere, mixed in or coating it.”

Available in rolls of 1.2 and 1.5 meters in width, the brand’s offering includes between six and eight references of fur-, shearling- and fleece-like fabrics. Naturally nutmeg brown, the material can be bleached to an ivory white or dyed using natural or mineral pigments. BioFluff also announced the launch of Savian, its flagship luxury materials brand, in partnership with Stella McCartney.

Sustainable materials have applications outside of luxury and fashion; more and more companies in the interior, automotive, and toy markets, among others, are desperate to get their hands on innovative biomaterials that are more sustainable—and often more cost-effective—than traditional animal-derived products.

As Wired reported earlier this year in a feature on TomTex, “The fashion and automotive industries are racing to discover the perfect animal-free leather to displace at least some of the almost $243 billion global market for leather. And what’s clear is the startup with the most affordable, durable, beautiful, biodegradable, and—this is the hard part—fossil-fuel-free material will win the spoils.”

TomTex leather wallet. Source: TomTex

Plant-based leather maker TômTex has since raised a $2.25 million seed round, led by Happiness Capital with SOSV, Parley for the Oceans, Earth Venture and MIH Capital participating. The company’s patent-pending technology uses 100% bio-based inputs including mushrooms, coffee grounds and seafood shell waste to create a non-woven, biodegradable and plastic-free leather alternative.

Per WWD, “It’s already a fashion industry fave, and has collaborated with Peter Do, Di Pesta and Maitrepierre at New York and Paris Fashion Weeks.”

Introducing IndieBio SF’s new office at 3rd St. in San Francisco’s Dogpatch

As you ride the elevator to the third floor of the American Industrial Center (AIC) at 3rd Street in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, the smell of sweetly spiced bread permeates the otherwise industrial air. Once filled with warehousing and manufacturing companies, the sprawling AIC—often referred to as a skyscraper on its side—is now home to everything from world famous chocolatiers to design museums and tech startups and, as of October 2023, SOSV’s IndieBio. 

IndieBio, SOSV’s startup development program working with deep tech founders in planetary and human health, has set up shop on the third floor, sandwiched between bakeries and several innovative food brands (Wildtype, Black Sheep Foods). And it feels right at home—and not just because the north side of AIC was IndieBio’s first ever office space back in 2015. As the New York Times put it, “…the [AIC] complex has emerged as a hub of collaborative entrepreneurship and a breeding ground for new companies, notably ones in food and technology.” 

The new, spacious SF HQ includes 9000 sq ft of production space, including 3300 sq feet of BSL 1 & 2 labs, a 2500 sq ft chemistry lab, and a 2,000 sq ft food lab; plenty of collaborative office space (60 desks and 18 conference rooms & phone booths); and an event/gathering area. In fact, the entire space facilitates an excellent event experience, which we put to the test for our recent Batch 14 Demo Day. And, for the first time, IndieBio SF founders will have access to a chem lab, food lab, and a clean room. There’s also a full bar and two kitchens. 

“IndieBio was the first VC in the world to build a full wet lab directly in our offices. But we’ve grown far beyond biotech and we encourage startups in every market to reach out. We now have a full chem lab, food lab, and prototyping production room—so we will invest in companies no matter which domain of science their technology is anchored in.

SOSV GP and IndieBio SF Managing Director Po Bronson

The facilities are split into two large areas across the hall from each other. One side of windows looks out over the glistening San Francisco Bay; the other frames the city’s Potrero Hill neighborhood. The space is well connected to San Francisco’s heartlines: it’s perched near the 22nd St. Caltrain stop, and the T Third Street line, with stops mere minutes away, runs every ten minutes, 24 hours a day. UCSF sits just four blocks away. 

IndieBio SF Batch 14 Demo Day

While many great companies and technologies were born in the labs at Jessie Street, we’re excited for the opportunities at the new 3rd St. offices, nestled in a neighborhood buzzing with entrepreneurial spirit. There’s more space (both lab- and office-wise) to host new cohorts and alumni alike, and better lab capabilities and machinery (ICP-OES, GC-TOF, etc.).

It’s a very enterprising and industrial community. Beyond tons of venture-backed startups, there are also full-fledged, successfully operating companies all around us. Everyday our founders build their companies alongside other entrepreneurs who are busy serving customers and delivering products.  There’s a buzz of commerce infusing the air here, and we love it. Here in San Francisco, we make things.

Pae Wu, SOSV GP and IndieBio CTO

A quick refresher on SOSV’s IndieBio program: the journey begins with $525,000 and our intense 4-6 month program to help founders refine their product as well as develop go-to-market and fundraising strategies. But we continue to work and grow alongside our companies, investing meaningfully in every round—80% of our capital is deployed post-program. 

Over 200 companies have been born and built with IndieBio so far. They have raised more than $2.3 billion and have an aggregate valuation of $8.3 billion.

Are you next?

We’re always on the lookout for the next generation of founders with the potential to transform the future of human and planetary health—apply here.

Revolutionizing the Textile Industry from the Factory Floor – A Conversation with Bloom Labs

We talked with two founders of Bloom Labs — Sim Gulati, CEO and Richard Freundlich, CTO — in the basement of IndieBio last week after their company had just been voted “Killer of the Week” by their peers in Batch 14. Each week at IndieBio, the companies in our batch compete based on their top accomplishments just in the previous week as they learn to move at venture speed. Top companies are nominated by the IndieBio SF team, but the winner is ultimately chosen by a voting of their peers within the batch.

Sim’s been a part of the textile industry since before he could walk

Sim started in the textile industry as a kid, helping his family run their clothing factory in India to create export-quality cotton and polyester for big name retail stores like J.C. Penney and LuluLemon.

[Sim]: “After learning the fundamentals as well as the harmful impacts of the textile industry, I became a bit obsessed with how to circularize it. Due to my young age, I wasn’t able to realize this vision within the family business so I knew it was time to set out on my own.”

[Sierra]: Wow so you’ve been an entrepreneur for pretty much your entire life. And this moment gave you the push to start Bloom?

[Sim]: “Not quite – first I formed a company called Dropel where we were innovating fabric to make it more sustainable. I quickly realized that the innovation had to be more upstream to enable a true paradigm shift in the industry – that’s where Bloom came in. At Bloom, we are innovating at the level of the raw material for the fabric. This way we can introduce massive innovation into the textile industry without requiring it to accept major infrastructure changes.”

[Mohan]: How did you settle on protein waste as your feedstock of choice?

[Sim]: “Feedstock for textile fibers has to be abundant and scalable. There is actually over 15 billion pounds of protein waste produced annually by poultry farmers around the globe. Yeah, we humans eat a lotta chicken! We came up with the concept of how to use this feedstock for melt spinning and melt extrusion processes without having to build new capex. In our proprietary process we convert this waste into keratin pellets which can drop into existing textile manufacturing infrastructure today. While we are a startup, we can scale almost immediately with existing equipment.”

After flying planes for 30 years, Richard is ready to repent for his impacts on the ozone layer

After embarking on his mission to circularize the textile industry with waste protein feedstocks, Sim met Richard, CTO, as well as Mike Jaffe, now Bloom’s CSO, who had both previously worked together at Celanese in fiber manufacturing. Richard had actually worked on protein waste conversion technology previously in the context of sustainable food packaging.

[Richard]: “I knew the core technology behind Bloom would work as I had previously done it. Once Sim introduced me to the concept of using the process for fiber creation, I immediately saw immense potential to transform the textile industry and was on board to join full time.”

[Sierra]: “It must be so satisfying to see your technology come full circle like this”

[Richard]: “Bloom is truly providing the right solution at the right time. 30 years ago no one cared about keratin as oil was so cheap. Now that circularity is crucial to enable a sustainable future, our scalable, cost-effective solution is poised to truly disrupt the textile industry…30 years ago is also when I first began my passion of flying planes. I’m thrilled to now be giving back to our climate to more than compensate for the negative impacts of that!”

Progress over perfection: how to manage conflict among an all-star team of engineers and scientists

Each member of the team at Bloom possesses a unique skillset to propel the company forward. From experts in melt spinning to materials science to chemists – Sim has assembled a great team with expertise over every aspect of protein processing and fiber generation. Of course, managing such a team of brilliant scientists and engineers can be challenging.

[Richard]: “Different experts on our team can clash from time to time. But we have constant communication and meetings to make sure everyone is aligned on key objectives and how to meet them.”

[Mohan]: Is managing the priorities and expectations of scientists different compared to doing the same with engineers?

[Sim]: “With tight deadlines it can be difficult for scientists to deliver. We’ve recently accomplished 6 months of work in just 3 weeks to prepare for the IndieBio SF Demo Day. To get there, we’ve had to juggle plenty of unknowns and focus mainly on getting to our demo day goals rather than fully understanding the intricacies of each result. This can drive the scientists insane, but at the end of the day our focus as a disruptive startup is really on progress over perfection.”

Why Bloom won Killer this week

[Sierra]: So what earned you guys the Killer last week?

[Sim]: “Last week, we successfully processed waste protein into uniform pellets for the first time. Next, we’re going to conduct a full scale trial. This is crucial to our development as a company as we are using scalable machinery and have taken the time to fully understand all of our process variables. So we will easily be able to move to the next stage of development using existing commercial scale equipment.”

Through our short conversation we could really sense the commitment of the Bloom team to access an abundant feedstock supply, build a truly unique team, and ultimately become the low cost leader in renewable (and perhaps even nonrenewable) textile manufacturing.  We can’t wait to see how this team has progressed the next time we talk.

Stay tuned for a deep dive into our next Killer!

Animal-free leather maker Gozen raises $3.3M

Balenciaga LUNAFORM™ Maxi Bathrobe Coat

IndieBio alum Gozen raised $3.3 million in seed funding round led by Happiness Capital, with participation from Accelr8, Astor Management, SOSV. The startup is working on a Turkey-based production facility with capacity of up to 1 million square feet.

At Paris Fashion Week earlier this year, Gozen partnered with Balenciaga to unveil LUNAFORM™, a lower-impact leather alternative. The animal and plastic-free textile is grown from fermented nanocellulose.

Unlike plant leathers—which are typically composed of a mixture of materials—LUNAFORM™ is created from a single process, enabling its tensile strength to surpass that of plant and mycelium-based materials. With a thickness starting from just 0.2 mm, it is stronger and finer than traditional animal leather and features a natural drape and softness that sets it apart from existing alternatives.

Ece Gozen, founder and CEO of GOZEN told TechCrunch in an interview: “I was super obsessed with science, so six years ago, I just quit my job and worked on creating the habitat for these microorganisms. We are using a fermentation transplantation system which creates the material in just 10 days. The formulation becomes solid, so we then harvest that. This is microbial cellulose, a different type of cellulose.”

Po Bronson, Managing Director of SOSV’s IndieBio, Gozen’s first investor, added in a statement: “There is a lot of competition now in animal free leather. But I believed that Gozen’s approach could surpass all others in both performance and economics.”

Gozen plans to disrupt not only fashion, but the automotive industry as well.

Seeing Beyond Anti-VEGF for Retinal Disease, A Conversation with ViAn Therapeutics

We talked with the founder of ViAn Therapeutics— JP Robles, CEO — in the basement of IndieBio last week after his company had just been voted “Killer of the Week” by his peers in Batch 14. Each week at IndieBio, the companies in our batch compete based on their top accomplishments just in the previous week as they learn to move at venture speed. Top companies are nominated by the IndieBio SF team, but the winner is ultimately chosen by a voting of their peers within the batch.

JP almost chose his guitar over a career in science

JP completed the foundational research for ViAn’s first asset – a cyclic peptide for preventing vision loss in diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – in a town in Mexico called Querétaro. The region is well known for its vineyards but certainly not on anyone’s biotech map. Before delving into research full time after undergrad, he found himself having to decide between two dreams: music and science.

[JP]: “It’s a bit of a miracle I ended up in science actually. I loved performing with my guitar growing up and strongly considered doing it full time. But ultimately science is an exciting challenge that really captivated me and I knew I couldn’t let it go. I also want to prove to the world that a successful biotech company can arise from this part of the world.”

JP joined the lab of Carmen Clapp, who had first demonstrated that the hormone vasoinhibin could inhibit VEGF during her post doc. Carmen faced tons of pushback from the field on whether this effect was real, but persisted in demonstrating efficacy in vitro. While doing this research, Carmen had worked alongside Nap Ferrara, whose foundational work developing anti-VEGF antibodies led to the blockbuster drugs Avastin and Lucentis for treatment of cancer and AMD, respectively.

[JP]: “When I joined, Carmen wanted me to purify large amounts of this protein so that we could prove the efficacy in mice. But vasoinhibin is so hard to express and purify that I was essentially at a dead end.”

So JP did what any seasoned startup entrepreneur can relate to – he pivoted and found a fresh way to tackle the problem.

[JP]: “I ended up thinking a lot about the structure of this fascinating molecule and learned Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations. I was able to identify the motif for the core function of the molecule. From there I realized we could likely get the same results from just a short peptide! Ironically I faced a lot of pushback from Carmen early on for this. We both had to show our fair share of persistence in this process.”

Working smarter not harder – JP’s secret to making an amazing therapeutic with less than 5% of the full length protein

JP’s computational work showed that the motif behind vasoinhibin’s therapeutic potential was only a 3 amino acid (aa) sequence out of the whole 125-150 aa molecule. He ended up creating a cyclic molecule out of 7 aa’s that showed remarkable in vitro properties.

[JP]: “We were initially going for an oral anti-VEGF but realized the compound was so permeable we could simplify the delivery even more and make an eye drop! Nap has since come on board as an advisor to the company, which really validates the potential of our technology”

How JP used rabbit eyes to win Killer this week

ViAn’s cyclic peptide eye drop has shown potent efficacy and bioavailability in mice. While those results are promising, testing in rabbits is the industry gold standard for eye treatments, given the physiological similarities between rabbit and human eyes. This week marked the first time JP tested his novel formulation on a rabbit model, setting incredibly high stakes for the future of his company.

JP: “We were able to show sustained bioavailability when testing the therapeutic dose of our peptide. The biggest challenge for commercializing eye drop therapies is typically inability to reach the retina. Here we were able to show that we can get to the back of the eye on our very first try!”

Eye drops for treatment of diabetic retinopathy-related vision loss and AMD could revolutionize patient care for this application. Current standard of care with anti-VEGF biologics entails invasive injections to the back of the eye. The simple administration of an eye drop, coupled with the peptide’s potential for enhanced stability, efficacy, and bioavailability could greatly expand applicable patient populations. 

JP: “Using a peptide eye drop for this application can be a real game-changer for patients in terms of ease of administration, treatment cost, and tolerability. We can get the best qualities of biologics and small molecule drugs with this peptide: unprecedented specificity, safety, and bioavailability as an eye drop formulation.”

Throughout our short conversation it was abundantly clear how JP’s persistence and passion for expanding medical access drives his mission: To revolutionize vision loss treatment for patients around the world through an incredibly stable, efficacious peptide eye drop with superior anti-angiogenic properties for treatment of diabetic retinopathy-related vision loss and AMD vs anti-VEGF.

We can’t wait to continue watching him progress as he puts Querétaro on the biotech map! 

Stay tuned for a deep dive into next week’s Killer!

Drugging the Messed Up DNA Packaging Behind Disease – A Conversation with TippingPoint Biosciences

We talked with the founder of TippingPoint Biosciences — Laura Hsieh, CEO — in the basement of IndieBio last week after her company had just been voted “Killer of the Week” by her peers in Batch 14. Each week at IndieBio, the companies in our batch compete based on their top accomplishments just in the previous week as they learn to move at venture speed. Top companies are nominated by the IndieBio SF team, but the winner is ultimately chosen by a voting of their peers within the batch.

Laura’s been on a mission to transform human health for as long as she could talk, but the ‘tipping point’ to create her startup took some time.

[Sierra]: What was the driving force for you to start a company centered around targeting chromatin? 

[Laura]: “My sister had leukemia when I was young so I spent a lot of time in hospitals by her side while she was getting treatments. Her doctors are like my second family – we still keep in touch. The former Director of Pediatrics at Stanford Hospital is even an advisor for TippingPoint. Ever since that time I’ve been on a mission to create something in medicine with a lasting impact on people’s lives.”

[Mohan]: How did this mission transform into a startup instead of say a career in medicine?

[Laura]: “At first becoming a doctor was the plan but I just fell in love with doing research even as an undergrad. I had an epiphany that the only way to effectively treat diseases was to understand the full range of complexities behind them. I became enthralled with the unraveling of DNA and soon I became an expert in chromatin dysfunction, which really is the driving force behind so many diseases.”

[Sierra]: Wow, so you’re pioneering an entirely new avenue towards thinking about and treating disease.

[Laura]: “Everyone is so focused on gene expression they forget to take a step back and look at the whole picture – messed up heterochromatin is often the true driving force and is what we should be targeting to treat the source of many diseases. Forming a focused startup in this space was this perfect opportunity to apply my years of research in chromatin to make a difference in the field of medicine and I had to take it.”

No sleep, no problem: Laura’s secret to running a Killer startup and raising two kids

[Mohan]: You’re able to be a CEO, run long experiments yourself in the lab while you try to recruit scientists, and still have time to be an awesome mom for your two kids – how do you do it all?

[Laura]: “I learned that I only need a solid 2-3 hours of sleep per night to perform at my best. In a pinch I can get by with no sleep at all and function just fine the next day. This natural gift comes in handy so I can fit in all my mom duties and still have time for a full work day once my kids go to sleep!”

[Sierra]: That’s impressive. It explains a bit about why you’ve been able to accomplish so much during the batch.

[Laura]: “I’m not someone who shies away from hard work; I’ve loved the learning curve of becoming an entrepreneur with a science background. My former research advisor, Geeta Narlikar, is a leading expert in the field of chromatin biology and she has been super active in the company so far. She has years of experience recruiting top talent and finding advisors and has really helped build our team.

[Mohan]: You are exemplary of the kind of scientist-founder CEO we love at IndieBio. But we look for constant evolution. Here you’ve gone from working for Geeta as your advisor during your postdoc to rearranging this key relationship so she is essentially working for you and the company. Tell us how that role transformation is going?

[Laura]: Everything’s been really smooth so far. We’re both direct and open communicators and are able to work together really well. Neither of us has a big ego to satisfy. We just want to translate this science into life changing medicine – no messed up chromatin here in our relationship!

Why she was voted Killer this week

Laura’s first therapeutic target is to develop a treatment for a rare pediatric disease – Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioblastomas (DIPG) – a disease directly driven by aberrant chromatin packaging. DIPG is devastatingly fatal with a 0% survival rate within one year of diagnosis. There are currently no effective treatments for DIPG and companies working towards treatment have been unsuccessful at finding ‘hits’ – molecules which can specifically target DIPG in a pre-clinical setting. 

[Laura]: “Last week we got our proprietary high-throughput screen up and running after months of optimization and tested a library of 10,000 novel compounds – we were able to see several small molecule hits in our first screen! The hits targeted DIPG and did not target normal chromatin. This means they have potential to specifically target DIPG without safety issues, which until now has not been shown by any other company.”

TippingPoint is on track to be much more than a one-hit wonder

Aberrant heterochromatin is proven to play a key role in a wide range of cancers, neurodegenerative disorders, and developmental disorders. In parallel to DIPG, Laura is gearing up to apply her unique platform to other intractable cancers, such as gliomas and pancreatic cancer, with much larger numbers of impacted patients facing bleak survival rates.  Her progress towards developing cures for disease with high unmet medical need has already won her a Golden Ticket from Ono Pharmaceutical Co.

The extra time and effort spent to understand the intricacies of all DNA interactions in a diseased cell in the fullest context possible to date, as opposed to the expression of a single gene, is truly paying off for Laura. Through our brief conversation we could really sense her intense focus, persistence and drive towards achieving TippingPoint’s central mission: Pioneering a completely new approach to target cancers and other disease states by targeting the flawed DNA packaging underlying these disease mechanisms. We can’t wait to see how Laura’s journey has progressed the next time we speak. 

Stay tuned for a deep dive into next week’s Killer!

Breaking Cancer’s Immune Defenses from the Inside Out, a Conversation with Karma Biotechnologies

We talked with three key team members of Los Angeles-based Karma Biotech – Andrew Gray, Co-Founder and CEO, Alan Johnson, Co-Founder and COO, and Joe Turner, CFO and CBO — in the basement of IndieBio last week after their company had just been voted “Killer of the Week” by their peers in Batch 14. Each week at IndieBio, the companies in our batch compete based on their top accomplishments just in the previous week as they learn to move at venture speed. Top companies are nominated by the IndieBio SF team, but the winner is ultimately chosen by a voting of their peers within the batch.

The Karma founders have been friends for over twice as long as the average marriage in the US

Andrew and Alan have had the longest relationship with IndieBio of any co-founders in the batch – dating all the way back to their participation in IndieBio SF Batch 2 as Vali Nanomedical! Their non-professional relationship actually started even earlier – the two met 17 years ago playing rugby and have been close friends ever since. Their experience with Vali taught them that improving the delivery of small molecule drugs wouldn’t cure cancer – but engineering the immune system to eliminate cancer itself might. While the technology to enable this simply didn’t exist at the time, they knew they had the core skills and knowledge to be able to create it. So they did what anyone in need of inspiration might do – headed to their favorite brewery to discuss over a pint.

[Andrew]: “We went to the brewery with a tiny notepad and ended up sketching out the original idea for our core macrophage engineering technology – I still have that notepad to this day. We basically have a fancy version of that same cartoon sketch in our patent that just got issued.”

[Sierra]: That’s amazing how your vision came together so quickly! Was it all smooth sailing from there?

[Alan]: “Not even close, but we were eventually able to scrape together $150K and access to a warehouse in LA with a full tissue culture lab! That foundation and invaluable equipment access enabled us to get to our first funding round.”

[Mohan]: Joe and Mari, how did you guys enter the picture?

[Joe]: “I connected with Andrew when I was working at Blackstone and we just hit it off right away. I started informally advising him on the business aspects but my other job kept me from fully engaging. That’s when I knew that this company had something special and my only option was to dive in.”

[Andrew]: “There’s another critical member of the team – Xazmin, our Associate Director of Molecular Biology. She couldn’t make it today, but if she were here she would chime in to tell you how her and I hit it off over our shared love of Sci-Fi when we met in early 2020. Her favorite tv series, Expanse, is based on my favorite book! I’m sure that’s how I convinced her to leave academia to join the team…

[Alan]: Xazmin plays a crucial role at the interface of the experimental and the business teams. Last week we got some unexpected, disheartening data but she refused to take the result at face value. She worked tirelessly and discovered an error in the analysis that was hiding our positive results!

Karma is one of the few companies lucky enough to go through IndieBio twice

All IndieBio SF batches were in person, with members of every company relocating to San Francisco for six months. Until the Covid-19 outbreak. It forced the IndieBio team to adapt and create a virtual batch model, which has evolved into an ongoing hybrid mode based on team member ability to travel. 

[Andrew]: “A lot has changed since those early days – now that IndieBio runs a hybrid model for the batch it opens up opportunities for companies based all over the world to participate. I now have kids; I wouldn’t have been able to participate in this batch without that change.”

[Alan]: “It was crazy being part of an early batch back when the office was still under construction. We had to pivot our experimental planning constantly. Although that part still stays the same – one of the joys of creating a startup!”

Andrew’s and Alan’s rugby injuries will never heal…but that didn’t stop the Karma team from being a Killer this week

[Joe]: ‘This week was really crucial for us. We actually had three key achievements that set us apart: we were able to make significant experimental progress to meet a major milestone in one of our pharma collaborations; we made progress in obtaining a Key Opinion Leader in the oncology space to advise Karma going forward; and we found a new research tool partner that will enable us obtain key mechanistic data by Demo Day!”

[Mohan]: Yeah, last week was impressive. It’s been amazing to see you guys trying to crush it each week.

[Andrew]: “A few weeks back it felt like we had hit an LA traffic jam and stalled our progress a bit. This week we were able to break through it on multiple fronts and really keep our team and company momentum going. I live my life by the Icelandic motto ‘Þetta reddast – everything will work out in the end,’ and we were really able to demonstrate that this week.”

Through our short conversation, it was extremely clear how resilient the Karma team is in their pursuit towards their central mission: Clearing hard-to-treat tumors by reprogramming the immune system and the tumor microenvironment in vivo with unprecedented efficiency. We can’t wait to see how the team continues to progress towards Demo Day. 

Stay tuned for a deep dive into next week’s Killer!

Unlocking the Power of RNA in Fresh Foods – a Conversation with Kresko RNAtech

We talked with three founders of Kresko RNAtech– Silvana Spinelli, CEO, Daniela Teplitzki, COO, and Carla Borini, director of lab operations — in the basement of IndieBio last week after their company had just been voted “Killer of the Week” by their peers in Batch 14. Each week at IndieBio, the companies in our batch compete based on their top accomplishments just in the previous week as they learn to move at venture speed. Top companies are nominated by the IndieBio SF team, but the winner is ultimately chosen by a voting of their peers within the batch.

We asked about the meaning of Kresko, and how the team came together to unlock the power of RNA in fresh foods

The word Kresko originates from Esperanto, an experimental universal language intended to be easy to learn, practical to use, and to neutrally bridge cross-cultural communication. In Esperanto, Kresko means growth. This is echoed in the company’s mission: to help humans grow and adapt to the stresses of modern life through an entirely new class of nutritional supplements based on the scientifically-proven effects of dietary RNAs. While there has always been a random mix of DNA and RNA in the foods we eat, the effects have been largely overlooked in modern society. Now, Kresko is helping us learn another powerful universal language – the language of nucleic acids in the food we eat.

[Sierra]: Silvana, you’ve worked your entire career researching at the forefront of RNA biology. What spurred you to make this shift from a professor to founding a startup? 

[Silvana]: “I was at this point in my academic career where I felt truly stuck on how to make a lasting impact. I then had an opportunity to work with an IndieBio company called ArgenTAG, and saw firsthand how scientists had a major impact by translating research into concrete applications.”

[Sierra]:  And this inspired you to join GRIDX, the premier Argentinian biotech accelerator?

[Silvana]: “Exactly. It honestly felt like I opened my eyes one day and I had a truly unique company. I knew the science of RNA in food was a wide open space where I could have a major impact and couldn’t go back to my life in academia. Instead I wanted to use scientific insights to transform human wellness in modern society.”

[Mohan]: So how did the full Kresko dream team assemble? Carla and Daniella, was the decision to jump into a startup as clear for you as it was for Silvana?

[Carla]: “Not exactly…I was really hesitant to join Kresko at first. Diving into a startup was a scary concept for me too. But once I spent some time talking and working hands-on with Silvana, the right choice became obvious.” 

[Daniela]: “Jumping into entrepreneurship was much quicker for me. I had actually started a social media marketing business when I was 16 and by the time I was in law school I had 15 clients all over the world. But this came to a grinding halt when the pandemic hit.”  

[Mohan]: That must have been tough for you. What linked you to Kresko?

[Daniela]: “I wasn’t going to let one setback stop me from my entrepreneurial passion – I joined GRIDX and met Silvana there! Kresko’s technology is something special I didn’t see in other companies. I quickly realized how their fresh approach to human wellness can open up an endless set of possibilities for the many ills of modern life.”  

We could see even in this short interaction how the Kresko team is really pushing the spirit of growth, both in their personal lives and in their unique company focused on unlocking the power of RNA in fresh foods.  

We dove into Kresko’s relationship with IndieBio, which began earlier than any company in the batch

In 2021, Managing Director Po Bronson had interviewed Silvana as a small RNA expert for a chapter in his latest book, Decoding the World.

[Sierra]: So Po found you for his book but was so intrigued by the core technology that he wanted to explore an IndieBio investment –  how did this feel for you guys? 

[Silvana]: “It was an amazing experience. But our company was not ready at all for VC. All we had was an idea, we needed the data to back it up!”

By early 2022 Kresko had enough data to hold the attention of the IndieBio team, but the road to Batch 14 took plenty of team flexibility and pivoting based on feedback received. 

[Daniela]: “We know several founders who have gone successfully through the IndieBio program and they have been our biggest role models throughout this process. Getting into IndieBio was a huge deal for us!”

[Mohan]: How has Kresko “Kresko’d” throughout the IndieBio program to now be voted the Killer of the Week?

[Silvana]: “This week we were able to create our first consumer product prototype. After months of generating key data and iterating with various options, we were able to concentrate the power of RNA in fresh milk into a single pill.”  

While this team has much further to go to realize their dreams of becoming an upstart new entrant in a competitive direct-to-consumer supplement market, we could see that this week marked a crucial milestone in their growth progression.

After digressing a bit around the team’s love for traveling and experiencing new cultures, we dug deeper into their ongoing journey.

[Silvana]: “Our team has focused on developing our first potent supplement. However, our true secret lies in the high-throughput dietary RNA identification and screening platform. We are operationalizing a clear roadmap to develop a large portfolio of novel supplements with proven scientific basis and efficacy in diverse applications for human health.” 

The road ahead will of course require continued iteration and adaptation, but we have no doubt the team is up for the challenge. We can’t wait to see how this team will have Kresko’d next time we chat. 

Stay tuned for a deep dive into next week’s Killer!

A Conversation with Alkali Labs, Killer of the Week

We caught up with the two founders of Alkali Labs – Luis Valencia, CEO, and Jacob Roberts, President — in the basement of IndieBio last week after their company had just been voted “Killer of the Week.” Each week at IndieBio, the companies in our batch compete based on their top accomplishments just in the previous week as they learn to move at venture speed. Top companies are nominated by the IndieBio SF team, but the winner is ultimately chosen by a voting of their peers within the batch.

We asked how they developed their core idea of using biology for direct lithium extraction (DLE)

[Sierra]: So Luis, before creating Alkali you spent 6 years working in Jay Keasling’s lab at UC Berkeley engineering bacteria to produce a new class of compounds. What got you interested in that in the first place?

[Luis]: “I’ve always been inspired and fascinated with the chemistry of the natural world. As I began to appreciate the complexity of microbial metabolism, it gave me a deep appreciation for the range of difficult chemical transformations microbes are able to perform.”  

[Sierra]: After spending so much time working on these other compounds, what made you switch gears to using biology for climate tech?

[Luis]: “In the Keasling lab we’re enthusiastic about biofuels, bioplastics and biomanufacturing, but we’re also very familiar with the limitations of those approaches. One day I was looking at ion transporters, and was so impressed by how it all works. It is so complex, and yet every organism on earth can do it. It became clear to me that I needed to find the best way to apply the strengths of synthetic biology to tackle the climate crisis.”

[Sierra]: So then why focus specifically on lithium extraction?

[Luis]: “Well the deeper Jacob and I got into the process, we kept coming back to the idea that the core principles around sequestering CO2 could also be applied to sequester lithium. For a while we had considered trying to capture both at once. But at the end of the day we’re making a startup and lithium is worth 400 times as much…the logical move was to focus on lithium.” 

[Mohan]: Jacob, while you had helped ideate and craft the company premise, you were (and are) still mid-PhD. If I remember correctly, you even had a dream research collaboration lined up with a top research institution in Israel. Sounds like you were at a bit of a proverbial fork in the road…  

[Jacob]: “Yeah exactly. Suddenly, both my dreams were on the table – forming a company or finishing a PhD with my dream project in a country I wanted to visit. But when the IndieBio offer letter came, I immediately knew the right choice.”

We delved deeper into their transition from PhD students to startup founders

[Sierra]: What’s been the biggest challenge for you guys in transitioning from PhD work to entrepreneurship? 

[Jacob]: “The first big difference is time! You have a limited amount of resources and don’t have time to really find out how or why everything works. You really just have to find out ways to get to the product as soon as possible.” 

[Luis]: “But on the other hand, in our lab we had a ton of freedom to design our own projects. It was a bit of a double edged sword – we gained the freedom and confidence to come up with new projects but also had to pivot when things didn’t turn out well…maybe not the most efficient way to do research, but great training for being an entrepreneur.”

[Mohan]: That’s awesome to hear. How has the company forming process been going with both of you coming from the same lab? 

[Jacob]: “Beyond coming from the same academic lab we have complementary thinking processes. Luis constantly generates new ideas for our mining process and I’m a bit more of, you know, the chopping block. I have to rein in some of his ideas to help keep us on track to meet our milestones. The chemistry has been great, in more ways than one.”  

On top of all this, each of them has a twin sibling!  Perhaps this explains their ability to understand each other’s thinking, sometimes telepathically, which is truly on another level.

After digressing around Luis’ passion for growing plants and Jacob’s singing in the Googapella, we finally got around to asking: So, why did your IndieBio peers deem you the “Killer of the Week?”

[Mohan]: This week in the IndieBio Batch 14 program was quite unique. Founders from all 10 batch companies flew in to the IndieBio SF office for investor meetings and in-person workshops, leaving much less time for experiments. How did that impact you guys?

[Luis]: “Alkali actually had a bit of a ‘home field’ advantage this week, since we work in the full lab located at IndieBio. We got to continue experiments while not missing out on an event-filled week. Yeah, there were a few late nights, but that’s what we signed up for! It so happened that we were able to demonstrate, for the first time, that the bacterial host we had chosen was able to accumulate cations. This was a huge moment for us!”

[Sierra]: That’s amazing! I remember you guys starting the program with just a paper idea. Biological methods for DLE are an entirely new concept with minimal literature out there to use as a guide for your system. I’m sure the process has been challenging to say the least…

[Jacob] “It’s been lots of experimental planning, testing, and pivoting that’s finally led to this moment that showed the validity of metal mining using our microbes. It’s great to see our work continue to pay off each week.”

[Mohan]: We’ve loved helping you guys progress so fast.  Why else did you guys win ‘Killer’ this week? Anything beyond experimental progress that won the praise of your peers? 

[Luis]: “Yeah we had a pretty tough interpersonal challenge with an equipment salesman last week trying to take advantage of us. As a non-confrontationalist I was going to let it go but Jacob encouraged me to use it as a chance for personal growth. In the end I was able to convince the salesman to give us a 95% discount on a much-needed piece of equipment!”

Altogether, Jacob and Luis’ ability to demonstrate a proof-of-concept of their approach as well their embracing of opportunities for personal growth won them the praise of their peers in the IndieBio Batch 14 cohort. We can’t wait to see how they continue to progress from now until Demo Day.

Stay tuned for a deep dive into next week’s Killer!

SOSV Climate Summit: How, Puna Bio, and Plan aim to protect our food supply against climate change

Climate change threatens to undermine agriculture at a moment when food production needs to increase, and quickly. The UN estimates that 1.3 billion people were food insecure in 2022, with most living in areas of Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia that are especially vulnerable to climate change. To feed a global population of 9.7 billion in 2050 under volatile and more extreme weather conditions, production may need to increase more than 50%. Clearly, agriculture needs to adapt.

Can we grow more food despite more extreme temperatures, floods, wildfires, droughts, and heat-loving pests? At the SOSV Climate Tech Summit (Sept 26-27 / free & virtual), we met pioneers in adaptive agriculture who believe it can be done.

Crops are adapted to a particular range of temperatures, sun exposure, humidity, and soil microorganisms, but global warming is changing those conditions faster than plants can adapt naturally. Climate researchers predict that the probability of crop failures in global bread baskets—responsible for almost half the world’s calories—will be 3.5 times higher by 2030, and 25 times higher by 2050. 

However, agriculture already accounts for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of global freshwater withdrawals. Hence, the predicament: how do we adapt agriculture to a warming climate while feeding another 1.7 billion people—without depleting freshwater resources, clearing more forests, burning more fossil fuels, or increasing prices? Three startups have potential answers.

Brendan Collins is co-founder and CEO of, a Durham, NC-based startup using machine learning and AI to design climate-resilient crops. Their key innovation is Gene Discovery by Informationless Perturbation (GDIP), which simulates changes in plant genomes. Basically, it enables researchers to find and breed desirable traits—like heat and drought resistance—in two to three years instead of the usual 15. A graduate of IndieBio (SOSV’s biotech startup program), Avalo has raised $3M in funding from Better Ventures, Giant Ventures, At One Ventures, Climate Capital, David Rowan, and SOSV

Franco Martínez Levis is co-founder and CEO of Puna Bio, which uses extremophiles (microbes that thrive in extreme conditions) to help crops adapt to the dry, salty, degraded soils of the near future. The Buenos Aires-based startup has sourced extremophiles that first emerged 3.5 billion years ago in La Puna, the highest and driest desert on Earth, to create biofertilizers that increase crop yields and protect crops from extreme weather without the need for carbon-intensive chemicals. Also an IndieBio grad, Puna Bio has raised $3.7M in funding from investors that include At One Ventures, Builders VC, SP Ventures, Air Capital, SOSV, GLOCAL, and Grid Exponential.

Dr. Ramadan Borayek is CTO and co-founder of, developer of a hydropanel that harvests water from thin air, at utility scale. The technology is passive, meaning it doesn’t require energy inputs, and it yields water that is up to five times cheaper than tap water, Drip claims. Drip could facilitate growth in food production by preserving scarce groundwater, reducing irrigation costs, and mitigating droughts. Based in Singapore, completed HAX (SOSV’s hard tech program) and has raised seed financing from SOSV and Entrepreneur First.   

Marina Schmidt, Founder and Editor in Chief of the impact media outlet Red to Green Solutions and host of the “Red to Green” food tech podcast, moderated the panel.

With heatwaves threatening corn yields in Texas, tomatoes in Spain and India, and peaches in Georgia, adaptive agriculture is a pressing climate technology. Can it provide food security? 

Watch the discussion below to find out—and tune into the rest of the sessions here.

Learn more about the Summit.

The Speakers

Brendan Collins photo

Brendan Collins

Brendan Collins is the Co-Founder and CEO of Avalo. He is a cell biologist, programmer, and lover of nature. Prior to founding Avalo, Brendan co-founded and worked as a software engineer at two early-stage startups. He also played a key role in developing cell-based therapies for treating traumatic spinal cord injuries during his tenure at University College London. Brendan holds a BS from the University of Notre Dame and an MS from University College London.

Franco Martinez Levis photo

Franco Martinez Levis

Franco Martinez Levis holds a degree in Economics from Universidad Torcuato Di Tella and an MBA/MA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Having worked for McKinsey & Company in Operations and Digital implementations across Argentina, Chile, Brasil, and Perú, he has always focused on the food value chain. With prior founder experience as the CEO of a restaurant software startup, he founded Puna Bio after meeting his three scientific co-founders in the midst of the pandemic. Today, he leads a team tackling one of humanity’s most pressing challenges: ensuring food security and building resilience in agriculture.

Dr. Ramadan Borayek photo

Dr. Ramadan Borayek

Dr. Ramadan Borayek earned his PhD in Material Science from National University of Singapore. Based on his PhD work, he submitted two US patents regarding smart materials for environmental and energy applications, and in November 2021, he co-founded Drip.AI Pte Ltd in Singapore to commercialize them. Drip.AI produces water out of the thin air powered by the sun. It can harvest water anywhere, including in locations with low humidity levels. Drip.AI’s solution is also scalable to industry levels with prices comparable to worldwide water prices. The company aims to address water scarcity, which is likely to worsen as the climate warms.

Marina Schmidt photo

Marina Schmidt

Marina Schmidt is the Founder and Editor in Chief of the impact media outlet Red to Green Solutions. Red to Green hosts the most in-depth podcast on food tech and sustainability, covering each topic in 12 episodes. It is ranked in the 5% most shared and followed globally with a loyal listenership spanning over 160 countries. Before founding Red to Green Marina worked as a Lead Venture Developer for Creative Dock, the world’s largest independent corporate venture builder. She also headed the Fightback Movement, a European collaboration platform focused on health & climate, working closely with the World Economic Forum. She currently lives in lovely Lisbon.

SOSV startup competition focused on CO2 capture and removal. Early stage founders welcome. Application deadline July 28.

As part of the upcoming SOSV Climate Tech Summit—taking place virtually September 26-27th this year— we’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) to host a Startup Innovation Challenge (aka a startup competition!) focused on Carbon Removal and Carbon Capture, Utilization & Storage (CCUS). Apply here—the deadline is July 28.

The competition is open to all early-stage startups (Series A or earlier) that are focusing on Carbon Removal and Carbon Capture, Utilization & Storage anywhere in the world. 

An expert team will review the applications and select five finalists, who will pitch before a live, online audience and judges at the SOSV Climate Tech Summit on September 26. The judges will announce the winner the next day during the summit. 

Why participate? The finalists will pitch live to an online audience of VCs, and video archives from the pitch will be published on SOSV’s site after the event. Overall, we expect 5,000 attendees at the summit. There’s no better place for climate founders to find investors. Check out this year’s speakers.

The third annual SOSV Climate Tech Summit convenes the entire climate tech ecosystem, including technologists, founders, investors, and researchers across the climate tech startup ecosystem. The summit will include two days of main-stage sessions featuring noted climate founders and investors, as well as breakout sessions with more than 20 major climate investors. Don’t forget to register! (It’s free!).

Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) is the world’s largest startup competition that aims to help startups change the world for the better. Founded by Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Young Sohn and Bill Tai, their mission is to empower entrepreneurs building innovative technologies that improve the world.

One more thing: Separately from the Startup Innovation Challenge, SOSV is also hosting the invitation-only Climate Tech Matchup for founders and VCs that was so successful last year, attracting 500 investors and 1500 founder-investor meetings in 2022.  Applications for the matchup will open in August. 

Climate and health portfolio updates headline SOSV’s Annual General Meeting in NYC

“There is a day coming where everyone on the planet will be touched by SOSV companies, every day,” SOSV Managing General Partner Sean O’Sullivan said in his opening remarks at the top of SOSV’s 2023 Annual General Meeting in New York City on June 1. “It’ll be in the clothes they wear, the food they eat, the energy that powers their day, and the decarbonized atmosphere that our companies produce for a more sustainable planet.”

On that exciting note, SOSV convened the annual gathering of SOSV limited partners at our new 7 Penn Plaza office. SOSV general partners Sean O’Sullivan and Stephen McCann provided updates on SOSV’s funds. HAX managing director Duncan Turner and IndieBio managing directors Po Bronson and Stephen Chambers walked through their programs and also delved into exciting developments in SOSV’s climate and health portfolios. 

Two SOSV portfolio founders also took the stage: Unspun’s Kevin Martin (HAX) discussed clothing maker’s recent $14M Series A and Vega, Unspun’s revolutionary new 3D weaving technology, and Ten63 Therapeutics’ Marcel Frenkel (IndieBio) addressed the firm’s BEYOND platform, which “combines physics and AI in hyper-efficient search algorithms” to push the boundaries of computational drug discovery.

UPSIDE Foods wins regulatory approval to sell lab-grown meat in the US

UPSIDE Foods’ cell-cultivated chicken.

UPSIDE Foods has secured the trifecta of regulatory approvals needed to take its cell-cultivated chicken commercial.

  • “No Questions” Letter from FDA — November 2022
    • After rigorous evaluation of UPSIDE’s products and processes, the FDA issued a “No Questions” Letter (NQL).
  • USDA Label Approval — June 2023
    • UPSIDE received a USDA “label approval,” showing that it demonstrated full compliance with all pre-market requirements for labeling. This includes the label, the name of the product, ingredient statement, and handling instructions, all of which were and determined by the USDA to be truthful and not misleading.
  • USDA Grant of Inspection (GOI) — June 2023
    • Receiving a GOI from USDA means that UPSIDE has met the applicable federal requirements and standards to operate as a meat establishment and is allowed to process, package, and sell its cultivated chicken in the United States under the inspection of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

With clearance to begin commercial production, UPSIDE can continue scaling its facilities and supply chains. Per the company, UPSIDE’s cultivated chicken will soon be available to the public for the first time at San Francisco’s Bar Crenn, prepared by 3-Michelin Star chef Dominique Crenn. Chef Crenn is a friend and partner of UPSIDE’s and a long-time champion of sustainable food systems.

Check out media coverage across Bloomberg, MIT Tech ReviewTechCrunch, and more.

Prime Roots raises $30M to bring its fungi-based deli meats to deli counters across the US

Prime Roots’ Koji-Ham. Source: Prime Roots

Prime Roots, which makes deli-style plant-based meats from koji mycelium, announced $30 million in Series B funding to bring its first-of-its-kind Koji-Meat to more deli counters and grocery shelves across the U.S.

Prime Roots makes whole cut, plant-based using koji mycelium. At a microscopic level, koji mycelium mimics the texture of meat—and its umami mouthfeel—providing consumers with a nearly perfect replication of the meat-eating experience, even down to ordering and slicing at the local deli counters where other deli meats are served. Consumers are convinced: partners report that Prime Roots’ products consistently sell out before lunch and sales are pacing at 5-10 times higher than other plant-based alternatives.

Prime Roots’ Koji-Meats are made by putting koji through a simple fermentation process, taking the koji in its whole and purest form and mixing it with a few other plant and fungi-derived ingredients to make meats that taste, feel, and look just like the “conventional” animal product. Koji Deli-Meats include Koji-Turkey (Classic Smoked, Cracked Pepper, and Golden Roast) and Koji-Ham (Classic Smoked, Black Forest, and Sugar Shack Maple), and Koji-Bacon.The Koji-Charcuterie line includes pepperoni, salami, pate (harvest and black truffle), and foie gras. All Koji-Meats are non-GMO and free of soy, cholesterol, nitrates, hormones and antibiotics.

The market for deli meats is huge: more than half of Americans eat a deli sandwich at least once a day. Other plant-based deli meats struggle to replicate the taste and texture of animal meat, and often contain unhealthy ingredients, such as soy and nitrates. Animal-based options also contain unhealthy additives like nitrates, hormones, and antibiotics, as well as the burden of animal slaughter and animal agriculture’s massive contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

It only takes two to three days to grow koji, which also produces nearly zero byproducts. In fact, Prime Roots’ end-to-end process from protein to product takes less than a week and is 90% to 99% more efficient and less wasteful than conventional meat in terms of land use, water use, and CO2 emissions, as reported in a Boundless Impact life-cycle assessment of the process.

In a kg to kg comparison of Prime Roots bacon to pork bacon, the assessment found that Prime Roots:
-Avoids 9kg of CO2 emissions per kg, or the equivalent of driving 22 miles in a passenger car
-Uses 92% less water (2 olympic swimming pools worth) than animal meat
-Registers 91% lower land impact than animal meat

“We’re tackling a whole new category that no one in plant-based has gone to,” founder Kimberlie Le told Forbes. “We’re not just taking plant-based proteins off the shelf and mixing them together. We are actually innovating in the deli, which is a very traditional category, but we’re maintaining that tradition in the techniques and flavors.”

Shake Shack rolls out plant-based shakes made with NotCo’s AI-designed NotMilk

Non-Dairy Chocolate Custard and Non-Dairy Chocolate Shake are now full-time additions to Shake Shack’s nationwide menu. Source: Shake Shack

Shake Shack just expanded its dairy-free milkshakes and custards made in partnership with NotCo (IndieBio 05) to all 260 locations in the US.

NotCo’s AI “Giuseppe” analyzes the product structure of foods at the molecular level and then replicates it using only plant-based ingredients. Giuseppe has the ability to find matches in flavor, texture, nutrition and functionality, among other characteristics—read more about Giuseppe here.

Giuseppe helped create NotMilk, “a sustainable, plant-based beverage that tastes, cooks, and blends just like milk,” per Shake Shack’s Tuesday announcement.

Shake Shack has been partnering with NotCo since May 2022, when the company first introduced its dairy-free milkshakes and frozen custards at 10 select locations in the US. Now, the entirely plant-based Non-Dairy Chocolate Custard and Non-Dairy Chocolate Shake are full-time additions to Shake Shack’s nationwide menu.

SOSV GP & IndieBio CTO Pae Wu shares tips on how to turn research into a business

Source: TechCrunch

“It’s really important to understand the distinction between what it is to build a business, and what it is to build a research program.”

SOSV GP and IndieBio CTO Pae W recently took the stage with Brian Heater at TechCrunch Early Stage to share her insights on how to turn research into a business—and why potential founders should consider leaving the “safety” of the academic nest.

“There are some sectors where it can work very well to have members of your founding team who remain in academia,” Wu explained. “We see this all the time in traditional biotech and pharma. But in other types of situations, it can become, frankly, a drag on the company and problematic for the founders who are full time. This is a very tough conversation that we have quite frequently with some of our committed academics: your stake in this company isn’t really aligned with your time commitment.”

“The majority of the time, the academic founder will come in and out and provide their sage wisdom to the full-time founders who have committed their lives and risked everything for this company. It starts to create challenges in getting the company to move forward. It creates interpersonal challenges as well for the founding team, because you have to be a special kind of saint to say, ‘I’m working 100 hours a week, I don’t make any money, and my whole financial future rests on the success of this company. And this guy keeps coming in to tell me some random thing that he read on the Harvard Business Review.’”

Wu went on to urge “recovering academics” to make the jump: “I feel strongly that your best bet is that, when you’re ready to go full time, just do it. Cut the cord. Stop being paid by the university and truly become an employee of your own business because your mindset will completely change.”

Wu also shared three questions that “recovering academics” building startups should ask to ensure they’re on the right track:

Do you need VC funding?

“There are plenty of other funding streams out there. The distinction between VC funding and other non-dilutive, or less-dilutive funding, is—simply put—the speed at which you want to operate. VC money is really great if you want to sprint.”

Which milestones are most important?

“While you need to have the science and the data—that’s table stakes. The real value-inflecting milestone is showing the world that you’re building a real business, a real product, with a plan to sell to customers.”

Do you really know your customer?

“Get to know the key opinion leaders in your market, and how your product impacts their business. Get your hands dirty, work alongside the community, and smoke out what drives your industry.”

IndieBio Startups Reveal 3 Stealth Collaborations on April 1st

San Francisco, CA—SOSV/IndieBio, a leading venture capital firm focused on deep tech investments, is proud to announce several collaborations between its 200+ portfolio companies. The firm’s investments have been at the bleeding edge of innovation, and these collaborations further highlight the ingenuity of its founders and the potential for revolutionary new ideas.

“We crowdsourced ideas from our 6000-member community on what they think will be the next trillion dollar idea,” said IndieBio’s managing director. “We are so excited to see what will come out of these projects.”

Below are 3 collaborations that are coming out of stealth on April 1st, 2023. “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” said a general partner at the firm. “I think that Steve Jobs said that… or was it Michael Scott?” SOSV IndieBio was the first VC to invest in cultivated meats back in 2015 with Memphis Meats (now Upside Foods) and has been continuously funding the boundaries of innovation. 

Sundial Partners with OneSkin to make plant-based chicken wings with youthful skin

Sundial Foods, known for making plant-based chicken with “chicken skin”, raised $4M just mere months after graduating from IndieBio and is now pursuing innovations that will keep them ahead of the curve. That’s why they’ve sought the expertise of fellow IndieBio alum, OneSkin, a longevity company focused on cosmetics. Their anti-aging peptides, OS-01, have been a trusted cult-favorite among anti-aging cream connoisseurs and have been clinically validated to improve barrier function, firmness, elasticity, and hydration of the skin by reducing DNA damage and prevents cellular senescence. Sundial wants these benefits, but for their plant-based chicken skin. 

“We got into this business to make plant-based chicken wings, not plant-based crow’s feet,” said Sundial Foods CEO Jessica Schwabach. “When you bite into aged skin, even if it’s plant-based, your mouth immediately gets the sense that it’s not premium… Youthful skin is how we’ll maintain our market leadership.” 

For OneSkin, this collaboration is more than just making food look youthful, it’s also about delivering the anti-aging benefits to the customer as well. “This is an excellent partnership for us to expand beyond topical applications, because it allows us to explore whether we can use our peptides to confer longevity through our food,” says OneSkin CEO Carolina Olveira, PhD. “Sundial is the ultimate wingman.”

Aja Labs partners with Biolumen to make next-gen fiber-expanded afros

Aja Labs, a black-owned North Carolina  based materials innovation company redefining the future of synthetic bio-based fibers, starting with  plant-based hair extensions, has just launched pre-orders for their first brand, Nourie, where consumers can buy hair extensions that provide a patent-pending nutrient complex that nourishes the scalp. Early users are excited, but one product category that is missing is the afro extension. 

That’s why Aja Labs teamed up with fellow IndieBio alum, Biolumen Technologies, a San Francisco based foodtech who recently launched their proprietary dietary fiber that expands 40 times its original size, eats sugar in your gut, reduces calorie intake, promotes a healthy gut, and improves metabolic health. The partnership aims to explore how their fiber can be integrated into Aja’s plant fiber-based hair product for supra-maximum volume. 

“We’re currently exploring how Biolumen’s expansive fiber technology can be embedded in our nutrient complex to help our users feel the authentic experience of having the perfect 70’s inspired afrofuturistic ‘fro,” says Aja Labs CEO Osahon Ojeaga

“Our consumers say they feel full after eating our proprietary dietary fiber, it’s so obvious we can make your hair feel full, too. It’s a match made in heaven,” says Biolumen CEO Paolo Costa. 

Dandelion partners with Lypid to make ultra-specific LNPs targeting body parts

Dandelion Therapeutics, known for using AI to hunt for organ-targeting lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), has recently expanded their ambitions to hunt for even higher resolution of drug targeting within the body. LNPs are notorious for just being shuttled to the liver, which is why Dandelion’s pursuit of finding LNPs that target other organs is catching the attention of top investors. The goal of this new venture is to find LNPs that target specific body parts, such as the upper back, or the ankles, not just organs. 

Dandelion recently launched a new joint venture with Lypid, a San Francisco based foodtech company that makes vegan fats with enhanced mouthfeel and taste (raised $4M last year). The project (nicknamed “Lardona”) spawned from the insight that foods seem to accumulate in specific body parts (e.g. “bacon goes straight to my thighs!”). 

“Dandelion’s AI is advanced enough to ingest and make sense of very complex chemical datasets, and we have a real opportunity to leverage food’s chemistry in our biological systems,” says Dandelion CEO Payam Koshkenar. 

About SOSV and IndieBio

SOSV (parent of IndieBio) is a leading venture capital firm focused on deep tech investments. The firm’s portfolio companies are at the forefront of innovation, working on groundbreaking technologies in areas such as biotech, AI, robotics, and more. With a track record of successful exits and partnerships, SOSV is committed to supporting radical new ideas and the founders behind them. Visit or to learn more and partner with top tier investors. . 

Solvay joins the Genesis Consortium to support IndieBio startups

Solvay Ventures, the venture capital fund of Solvay, announced that the fund has joined the Genesis Consortium to support startups in SOSV’s IndieBio startup development program, which holds a portfolio of early-stage, venture-backed companies innovating in planetary and human health.

The Genesis Consortium, founded by SOSV and Mayfield, is a global alliance of venture capital firms and corporations dedicated to supporting startups that leverage biotechnology to promote human and planetary health.

Over the years, Solvay Ventures has demonstrated interest in Indiebio’s graduate companies, which represent a growing number of early-stage ventures with ties to Solvay’s commitment to innovating in chemical biotechnology.

“We are thrilled to join the Genesis Consortium and SOSV’s IndieBio, which will reinforce our position in biotech and help us better serve our customers as we reinvent chemistry through biotechnology,” said Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri.

“On the journey to reshape the global economy for sustainability, it’s fantastic to have Solvay as a key partner,” said Sean O’Sullivan, founder and managing general partner at SOSV. “Using efficiencies only possible through biology, IndieBio startups are reinventing the world’s means of production of foods and materials.  It’s a great sign for the future that materials and chemistry companies with tens of billions in revenue, like Solvay, are joining side by side with IndieBio startups to create a healthier future.”

RECAP: SF Demo Day (Batch 13)

IndieBio SF’s Demo Day was a huge success!

We started off the day with an online demo day at 10 AM PST with incredible videos made by the IndieBio SF team in collaboration with the founders, as an exercise to hone the narrative of the company, ensuring that differentiation is coming across to investors. Some of the videos were so moving that our founders were getting private messages from ordinary people sharing their stories about the problems our startups are trying to solve.

You can watch the videos in one long livestream above, watch it on the community portal, or watch the individual clips on our YouTube channel.

Over the course of the program, IndieBio facilitated over 500+ investor conversations with our 13 companies. But last night, the in-person Demo Day was the culmination of the IndieBio Experience in which our founders flew in from all over the world to meet face to face with investors, showing off demonstrations of their progress in the past 5 months.

Gozen Bioworks brought their next-gen leather samples as well as multiple products: boots, purses, jackets, designed by fashion designer Ece Gozen. Mira Biotech brought samples of their MDF that was manufactured at their pilot facility. Melio showed a software demo of how their innovative MeltRead™️ system detects multiple pathogens from a single spiked blood sample, with high sensitivity. MAA’VA showed stunning beautiful tables made from their eco-concrete. Infinite Elements showed samples of their biofiltration system that separate rare-earth minerals with biology instead of toxic chemistry.

The next morning, we met at 10 AM as per our Friday morning ritual, where we share our progress in the past 7 days. We learned that Demo Day helped crystallize corporate partnerships and term sheets that have been in the works. One of our companies finished a $10M purchasing contract. Another was offered a partnership in which they would be getting free feedstock. Some were offered term sheets.

This isn’t the end for our founders.

We continue to work with our companies, long after the batch is over. Even as I’m writing this, I see Parikshit sitting to my left working on a data room with one of our founders, Po sitting to my right working with another founder on fundraising, and a few desks away, Pae and Mohan are reiterating a business model with another founder at their desks (it’s against our ethos to have individual offices). We continue to answer our founders phone calls, night and day, because if there is one thing that binds our team and our founders together, it’s our shared mission and the work never stops.

P.S. We are looking for amazing founders to be part of our new batch this upcoming spring. If you have a great idea, please submit an application and someone from our team will reach out if we see a potential to become a huge company, for human and planetary health.

Announcing Demo Day for IndieBio NY Class 5 on February 1st and 7th. Register today!

IndieBio NY is proud to announce that the Demo Day for IBNY Class 5 is taking place in-person at our  brand new headquarters on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, and followed by an online showcase on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. 

Investors can sign up here to request an invitation to the In-Person Demo Day on Feb 1. The full-day program will include a series of talks with past and present founders and investors, insights into the current state of biotech and climate tech investment, and the opportunity to meet IBNY’s companies and see their technology in action. In-person registration is free and limited so be quick to request your spot!

Registration is also open for IBNY’s Online Demo Day on Feb 7Click Here to RSVP.

Below is snapshot of the new companies you will meet at the Class 5 Demo Day and what makes them special.

IndieBio NY companies have made incredible advancements across human and planetary health, and innovation in the Big Apple shows no sign of slowing as we approach IndieBio NY’s Demo Day with IBNY Class 5. Here are the startups who will be featured on demo day:

Future of Food

Forte Protein
Making animal protein ingredients safely in plants
While on a Fulbright scholarship, Founder and CEO, Dr. Kathleen Hefferon developed a novel approach to making plant-based alternatives to animal proteins.

Forte Protein has developed an expression system to produce bio-identical animal proteins such as ovalbumin and lactoferrin within plants like kale or lettuce. Their technology platform allows them to quickly and economically produce and harvest a complete spectrum of complex animal proteins in plants sustainably. Their proteins can be used as ingredients in all kinds of non-GMO, vegan, kosher, and gluten-free products such as meat replacements, energy drinks, supplements, gels, cheese, and milk alternatives.

Forte Protein’s expression vector technology was developed by Co-Founder Dr. Kathleen Hefferon at Cornell University to produce target animal proteins in greenhouses, using short plant growth cycles, that increase yield and minimize pest pressures.  

They can also repurpose their plant waste as feedstock, fertilizer, biofuel, extracts, and other plant compounds to further reduce their carbon footprint and produce additional revenue streams.

Creating sophisticated cell factories to bring cultivated meat to market
The biggest cost component for cultivated meat production is the growth factors.

There’s a laundry list of reasons why cultivated meat is better for the planet, better for animals, and better for our health. So why aren’t we seeing cell-based meat in our supermarkets?

Because making cultivated meat is very expensive, making it impossible to scale. The input costs are much too high to consider bringing products to market. And the most expensive piece in production –accounting for over 80% of production’s cost–  is a component in cell culture media called growth factors.

At Edge, they’re solving this growth factor problem. They’ve created a novel bioprocess using animal cell factories that self-supply authentic growth factors. Their bioprocess methodology is sourced from mammalian cells, meaning they’re more closely mimicking the natural biological process that occurs within organisms. It isn’t through fermentation or molecular farming –both of which have extensive downstream processing. The direct production costs in recombinant protein production are very much influenced by the downstream process, specifically the isolation and purification steps. By innovating a method that needs no downstream processing, they’ve effectively cut most of the costs.

Their cell factories, compatible with existing bioprocesses, ensure a constant supply of growth factors to cells in an innovative system. The result is an increase in cell activity and a drastic decrease in production costs and contamination risk.

Atlantic Fish Co
Developing cultivated seafood to provide the world with delicious and sustainable protein
Seafood is the most widely-eaten animal protein in the world – 178M metric tons per year are harvested through fishing and aquaculture.

Approximately 50% of the world’s fisheries are currently fished at unsustainable levels as demand increases and climate change accelerates the collapse of our oceans’ ecosystem. Wildfish populations in particular are being pushed to the brink – many of these species cannot be grown via aquaculture and will go extinct with our current trajectory.

Atlantic Fish Co’s vision is a future that’s better for people, animals, and the planet — cultivated meat and seafood technology make this possible. They are developing cultivated seafood to provide the world with delicious and sustainable protein. Cells are harvested from the fish and fed nutrients in a bioreactor. Scaffolding is used to give the cells a structure to grow on and produce the texture of a whole fish fillet. The end product is real seafood, grown directly from fish cells but without the consequences of legacy fishing.

Their product is real seafood that is delicious, clean, safe, and climate-friendly – free of plastics, mercury, and antibiotics, and grown without animal suffering or environmental impact.

Green Industrial Biotech

From Nature to Life
70 million liters of non-green solvents are being manufactured per day

Nowadays, solvents are a necessary part of the production process in many industries and are essential for many products to work effectively. Despite their widespread use, the solvent manufacturing industry is highly reliant on petroleum refineries or manufacturing petrochemical plants. Only 10% of solvents today are manufactured using other feedstocks such as biomass.

Bioeutectics is determined to help industrial processes become more sustainable by bringing green solvents to the mainstream. The company’s non-toxic, biodegradable, and sustainable solvents are made using a combination of eutectic technology and green chemistry, allowing them to customize products and adapt them to a variety of industries such as food, pharma, and personal care.


Everything breathes
In the US alone, an estimated 11.3 million tons of textile waste – equivalent to 85% of all textiles – end up in landfills each year.

Pneuma is developing the next generation of sustainable materials – implementing the process of photosynthesis as a product feature. OXYA, their living and breathing textile, is seeded with microalgae that consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.

Pneuma’s vision is to help nature in the production of oxygen by transforming human-made materials – aiming for technology indistinguishable from nature. Their proprietary production process will redefine the apparel & homeware sectors and usher in a new era of engineered living materials that can photosynthesize, and help people build healthier relationships with their surroundings.

The future of fashion is plant-based and biodegradable
20+ countries have either voted to ban fur farming, prohibited farming particular species, or introduced stricter regulations that effectively curtail the practice.

With recent bans on real fur going into effect across the EU, United States, and beyond, and a decline in customer acceptance of plastic-based furs, luxury brands are actively seeking novel sustainable fur alternatives to animal and synthetic furs. BioFluff is working on developing a cost-competitive, biodegradable, and high quality alternative to both.

BioFluff is the world’s first completely plant-based fur targeting the luxury clothing market. Their fur is plastic-free, GMO-free, and vegan, sourced from organic renewable fiber plants – no pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, petrochemicals or unsustainable raw-oil derivatives are used.

Their patented process provides a drop in solution to existing industries to produce already 14k square feet of material in our manufacturing location in Italy.

Therapeutics & Drug Discovery

Vitarka Therapeutics
Curing the Untreated
Almost 85% patients with late-stage cancers do not have treatment options.

A new wave of RNA therapeutics has the potential to transform treatment for solid tumours. Existing non-viral technologies cannot target tumour cells. Moreover, these fail to release the therapeutic RNA into the cytosol, less than 1% leaks out of the endosomes (a sub-cellular compartment). The remaining 99% is degraded.

EndoPore is Vitarka Therapeutics’ solution to this drug delivery problem. Using a synthetic biology approach, our team has developed pore forming proteins (PFPs) for targeted, cytosolic delivery of RNA therapeutics. PFPs have a naturally evolved mechanism of endosomal escape, which we are exploiting along with using a validated mechanism of stabilising RNA.

Boost the Predictivity of Drug Discovery
Animal models fail to predict 90% of adverse side effects. There is a strong need to develop relevant systems to better anticipate drug toxicity.

Drug development costs over $2 billion per drug with a failure rate of 90% because in vitro methods do not mimic the systemic organization of the human body and animal models are too different from Humans. As a result, the limitations of in vitro testing reduce the probability to develop safe and efficient drugs for patients needing them and prevent an efficient transition toward animal-free drug discovery.

FluoSphera is developing the first liquid microphysiological systems (MPS) ever made to revolutionize drug discovery. The MPS of FluoSphera recapitulates the complex organization of the human body in vitro by mimicking the communications between multiple human organs. These smart tools thus predict the effects of candidate drugs much better, even before they reach the first patient, to stop missing the most promising drugs.

With this powerful technology, FluoSphera helps to increase the success rate in clinical trials while proposing superior alternatives to animal experimentation. 


Empowering menstruators to manage their pain with freedom and dignity
90% of menstruators describe their period pain as moderate to severe.

Period pain has an immediate negative impact on the quality of life, forcing 41% of menstruators to miss work or school. For places like the US, this results in over $7B loss annually. Current treatment options such as painkillers (NSAIDs), hormones, opioids, and surgery have serious side effects like kidney failure, stomach ulcers, blood clots, strokes, loss of fertility, and even death. So, why don’t other treatment options exist?  

AIMA is transforming the lives of 80M North American menstruators by developing a new generation of period pain management systems. They are working diligently to bring tested CBD-infused products into the hands of menstruators. Their first product, OVY, is a vaginal suppository that will offer a safe and effective pain management solution with dosages based on personalized pain response. 

AIMA will conduct a dose-escalating clinical study to assess the safety and efficacy of their CBD-infused vaginal suppository in 40 menstruators who have moderate to severe dysmenorrhea. This clinical study will provide foundational information about the blood profile of cannabinoids and provide the first scientific evidence about the vaginal delivery of CBD and CBG.

SOSV’s IndieBio NY debuts new 25,000 sq. ft. office, lab and event space at 7 Penn Plaza in NYC

IndieBio NY
The 3,500 sq. ft. lab facility at IndieBio NY’s new home at 7 Penn Plaza in NYC

SOSV’s IndieBio NY has opened the doors to its new headquarters at 7 Penn Plaza—a 25,000-square-foot open office engineered to foster innovation and community in the New York deep tech ecosystem.

The new facility will host startups in the IndieBio NY startup development program, which each year accepts 20+ pre-seed startups focused on human and planetary health. The space includes multi-disciplinary BSL1 and BSL2 wet labs, a 140-person capacity event space and two large, open office areas.

IndieBio aims to make 7 Penn Plaza a hub for the fast growing life-science ecosystem across New York state. Plans are underway to host 100 events a year and make the event space an invaluable venue to convene scientists, researchers, founders, engineers, and investors. 

IndieBio New York’s new home includes a 3,500-square foot laboratory and a 140-person event space. 

Launched in May 2020, IndieBio NY is an expansion of IndieBio SF, the world’s leading startup development program for founders in food and ag tech, bio-engineered materials, therapeutics, and diagnostics, among many other sectors. In other words, IndieBio serves founders who want to “save lives and save the planet.” Startups that join IndieBio receive SOSV’s initial investment of up to $525,000 and work alongside the IndieBio team for 4-6 months to refine their product as well as develop go-to-market and fundraising strategies. 

Since 2014, more than 200 companies have graduated from IndieBio in SF and NY. They have raised more than $2.3 billion and have an aggregate valuation of $8.3 billion. 

To support the launch of IndieBio NY, Empire State Development and the Partnership Fund for New York City pledged to invest $25 million over five years. The partnership aims to accelerate the development of New York’s flourishing life sciences ecosystem. 

New York graduates more life science PhDs than any other state in the U.S. and is home to a quarter of all US clinical trials.

SOSV general partner Stephen Chambers is the managing director of IndieBio NY, and the chief scientific officer is Sabriya Stukes

Stephen Chambers

Chambers has a Ph.D. in molecular biology, was one of the founding scientists at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and co-founded of Abpro Therapeutics, which employed synthetic biology and immunology to accelerate antibody discovery. As CEO of SynbiCITE, the Innovation and Knowledge Center for Synthetic Biology in the UK, he oversaw dramatic growth in the synthetic biology innovation ecosystem. At the same time, Chambers co-founded Bio-start, the UK’s first Life Science accelerator. Recently awarded Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at Imperial College London, Stephen is a Member of the Royal Society’s Industrial Fellows College and Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.

Sabriya Stukes

Stukes has a PhD in biomedical sciences from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Prior to IndieBio, she was Operations Director for Stellate Therapeutics, a biotech company developing microbiome-derived therapeutics to treat neurodegenerative diseases. After earning her PhD, she was the founding Associate Director for the Master’s in Translational Medicine (MTM) program at The City College of New York, NYC’s only graduate degree that trains scientists and engineers in the commercialization of medical technology. A microbiologist, educator, and science communicator, Stukes’ expertise is in working with individuals to design sustainable clinical solutions and craft compelling scientific narratives. 

Counting alumni standouts HalomineMultus MediaTômTex, and Harmony Baby Nutrition, IndieBio NY has graduated 36 companies and 34 of those have raised follow-on funding. 

In February, IndieBio NY will graduate its fifth cohort, including companies across the fields of food, biomaterials, femtech, industrial biotech, therapeutics and drug discovery, including: 

  • BioFluff—creating the world’s first completely plant-based fur targeting the luxury clothing market
  • FluoSphera—developing the first liquid microphysiological systems (MPS) ever made to revolutionize drug discovery
  • Edge Foods—creating sophisticated cell factories to bring cultivated meat to market
  • Forte Protein—making animal protein ingredients in plants, safely and sustainably
  • Atlantic Fish Co—developing cultivated seafood to provide the world with delicious and sustainable protein
  • Vader Nanotechnologies—improving our ability to recycle plastic and degrade forever chemicals by creating new organisms and enzymes that break down pollutants
  • Vitarka Therapeutics—revolutionizing intracellular drug delivery by developing a new tumor-targeted platform technology using pore-forming proteins
  • Pneuma—developing the next generation of sustainable materials, implementing the process of photosynthesis as a product feature
  • Bioeutetics—bringing non-toxic, biodegradable, and sustainable solvents to the mainstream
  • AIMA—developing a new generation of CBD-based period pain management systems
The 140-person event space at IndieBio NY’s new 7 Penn Plaza location  

Interesting in learning more about the startups in IndieBio’s fifth cohort? Sign up here to request an invitation to IndieBio NY’s in-person Class 5 Demo Day on Feb 1, which will include a series of talks with past and present IndieBio founders and investors, insights into the current state of biotech investment, and the opportunity to meet IndieBio NY’s companies and see their technology in action. Registration is also open for IBNY’s online Class 5 Demo Day on Feb 7—click here to RSVP.

Founders interested in applying to IndieBio can start  here. For more information on IndieBio and SOSV in general, including how to apply for use of the event space, please reach out here.

Here are videos for all the sessions at the 2022 SOSV Climate Tech Summit

Title graphic for the SOSV Climate Tech Summit

We just completed our two-day summit (Oct. 25-26), which included 22 panels and fireside chats with leading founders, VCs, researchers and policy experts.

We had a great turnout, with more 6700 people registered this year, from 88 countries. We recognize that the event was not available during waking hours in much of the world so we wanted to make the sessions available on-demand right at the show’s conclusion.

The full recordings for each day are here for Day 1 and Day 2. You can find each session listed with its corresponding YouTube link below.

Welcome to SOSV Climate Tech Summit 

Watch Session on YouTube


How to invent climate unicorns

Watch Session on YouTube

MIT’s Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang has an astonishing knack for converting science into indispensable climate tech companies, including unicorns Form Energy and Desktop metal and rising star Sublime Systems. How does he do it? And what spaces does he see in the vast materials space?


Who writes those early checks, and why?

Watch Session on YouTube

In venture investing, early checks are usually the riskiest, and when it comes to deep tech climate startups, the risk is especially high. How do VCs who put early capital to work decide which founders to back, and in what climate sectors? How do they coach their founders and what do they expect in the early years?


Nuclear fusion, the forever promise

Watch session on YouTube

More than $5 billion in venture capital has heated up the race to produce commercially viable, nuclear fusion power – as soon as the 2030s. Helion Founder David Kirtley is one of the frontrunning founders in the race to make this near perfect energy technology a reality.


Is this geothermal’s moment?

Watch Session on YouTube

One cure for the limitations of solar and wind is the geothermal potential right under our feet, but the US produces less than 1% of its energy from geo. Dandelion and Quaise are working on solutions that will transform access to geothermal’s untapped possibilities.


  • Carlos Araque, Quaise Energy, Co-Founder and CEO
  • Kathy Hannun, Dandelion Energy, Co-Founder and President
  • Moderator: Candice Ammori, Founder, The Climate Vine

Who writes series A & B checks and why?

Watch Session on YouTube

The value of Series A investments in climate tech grew 76% to $5.3 billion between 2020 and 2021, while Series B investments doubled to $8 billion. Khosla, USV and EIP are in the thick of the competition to write those checks. Hear how these investors pick their bets. 


The Swedish Way: How Vargas Built NorthVolt, Polarium and H2 Green Steel

Far from Silicon Valley, Carl-Erik Lagercrantz co-founded Vargas Holding and launched three notable companies to re-shore critical clean industries. Can their novel playbook apply to other industries and geographies?

Watch Session on YouTube


When the sun and wind aren’t around, what then?

Watch Session on YouTube

Globally, carbon offsets are traded on ETS generally well below $100/tCO₂. The trouble is that most solutions for carbon capture and storage still cost well above $100 per ton. Who will close the gap? We’ll hear from two founders who believe they have the technology and business model to get there. And to keep the conversation grounded, we’ll run it by a scientist whose life’s work is to figure out carbon capture.


What’s the right role for Uncle Sam?

Watch Session on YouTube

Whether it’s consumer incentives for electric cars or FDA approvals for alternative proteins, startup founders often need help from legislators and regulators to succeed. What is the best way for the government to help innovators succeed without playing favorites or making the wrong bets? 


  • Sarah Hunter, X (Formerly Google X), Director of Global Public Policy
  • Dr. Jesse Jenkins, Princeton University, Assistant Professor and Macro-scale Energy Systems Engineer
  • Robin Millican, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), Director, U.S. Policy and Advocacy
  • Moderator: Danny Crichton, Lux Capital, Head of Editorial

The DoE’s $40 billion “bridge to bankability”

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The US Department of Energy has a $40 billion loan facility to assist critical, sustainable energy projects. It’s Jigar Shah’s job to make the call on those loans, and he’s studying 77 applications. So how does that work, exactly?


A rockstar VC returns to “fix” climate and secure humanity’s future

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Legendary software investor Chris Sacca came out of retirement to raise more than $1 billion for his new climate fund, Lowercarbon, and build a team focused on climate science and investing. In no time, they’ve invested in more than 60 companies. What has Sacca learned so far?


Termination Shock, the near now

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Neal Stephenson’s latest, “Termination Shock,” is a riveting take on what the near-future life might look like when climate goes badly sideways. What does the sci-fi legend really think about humanity’s ability to address the challenge?


Can direct air capture save the day?

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The Biden climate package set aside billions to support carbon dioxide removal technologies, and Climeworks is spear-heading the direct air capture (DAC) globally, with the world’s largest DAC facility and storage installation in operation. Co-founded by Dr. Christoph Gebald, the scale-up is on a journey to climate impact at scale and strives to inspire 1 billion people to act and remove CO2 from the air. How far has the technology developed, and what does it take to scale it up as fast as required? How does direct air capture become a real business? 


Carbon reduction three ways – forests, algae and making things

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Our planetary ecosystem scrubs C02. Can we help forests and ocean life do better? Or borrow nature’s photosynthesis to make atmospheric CO2 into valuable materials and fuels? These three founders are putting nature to work to reduce C02. 


Singapore is way ahead. They have to be.

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Climate change is an existential threat to Singapore, but unlike most small island states Singapore has the financial resources, technological capability, and governmental focus to address climate change on fronts. At the center of that effort, is Minister Grace Fu.


  • Grace Fu, Singapore, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment.
  • Moderator: Ben Joffe, SOSV, Partner

Can plants and AI curb the livestock GHG problem?

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Can plants replace the animals in our diet? Livestock accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and unicorn Notco has taken on dairy with a plant-based milk and is using an AI-driven platform to design an arrray of plant-based protein replacements. How far can Notco go, and how fast?


  • Matias Muchnick, NotCo, Founder and CEO
  • Moderator: Amanda Little, Columnist for Bloomberg and Professor of journalism and science writing at Vanderbilt University

When farming goes indoors

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Food and climate have a tricky relationship. Unsustainable agriculture is a big GHG source; worsening climate risks food production and famine. Food production in sustainable facilities, If they can scale economically, may be an answer, or so these founders hope.


Alternative protein scale-up? There’s a corporate for that.

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Startups in food tech face daunting capital and know-how challenges to scale production. That’s why brewer giant AB InBev created BioBrew, a new division to build precision fermentation operations (beer, get it?) for the likes of partner The Every Company. How did that collaboration come to pass and how is it working?


How can ag tech feed and save the planet at the same time?

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Industrial agriculture is a major contributor to the greenhouse gasses that drive climate change, and at the same time our ever hotter planet is putting food production everywhere under an unprecedented strain. The challenge for ag tech pioneers is to address both challenges at once.


  • Josh Silverman, Aromyx Corporation, CEO
  • Matias Viel, Beeflow, Founder and CEO
  • Toni Wendt, Traitomic – Carlsberg Group, Head of Technology Development and Operations
  • Po Bronson, SOSV General Partner and IndieBio SF Managing Director

A $3.6 billion investment company for future generations towards a net zero world. Singapore, of course.

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Temasek, a global investment company, was already a global leader in climate tech investing when in June it announced the launch of GenZero, a wholly-owned $3.6 billion investment platform company dedicated to accelerating decarbonisation globally. GenZero CEO Frederick Teo will address how GenZero plans to put that capital to work. 


New ways to make materials, minus the carbon.

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So much of what we take for granted, from plastic, to wood to concrete and steel involve processes that contribute mightily to GHG emissions or other unsustainable processes. These three founders are walking the fine line between new green technologies and promising commercial replacements for legacy approaches. 


Welcome to climate tech investing

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In little more than a year, 72 new climate venture funds and $13 billion in fresh capital pulled up to the climate startup ecosystem. More capital is great for the sector, but how do these new general partners see the opportunity? Which stages and categories do they like? 


SOSV Climate Tech Summit Closing Remarks

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Where do we go from here?


Thank you for joining the SOSV Climate Tech Summit!

Announcing the SOSV Climate Tech Agenda

Welcome to the agenda for the main stage of the SOSV Climate Tech Summit. The event is virtual, free and will be held on Oct. 25-26, starting at 8 a.m. PDT. Register today. 

The main stage features conversations between the world’s top climate founders and investors across all the major categories of climate tech – from energy to industry and food. The conversations will be moderated by editors and reporters from TechCrunch, Bloomberg, The Economist, MIT Technology Review and more. 

In addition to the sessions below, there will also be a track of more than 20 live breakout sessions led by the top early stage investors, including SOSV (HAX and IndieBio), Khosla Ventures, DCVC, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, Energy Impact Partners, Fifty Years, World Fund, Pale Blue Dot, MCJ Collective and more. Their presentations are designed to help founders understand better how these firms make investment decisions. Register today.

The SOSV Climate Tech Summit is designed to convene the emerging climate tech startup and investment ecosystem, which is relatively new and very global. More than 70 new venture climate funds launched in the past year, and hundreds of new climate-focused startups took shape. The summit aims to expand access to information within the ecosystem and deepen the person-to-person connections essential to startup ecosystems. 

Join us at the SOSV Climate Tech Summit and get to know the people, startups and investors building the this vital tech ecosystem.

The Agenda

Watch IndieBio NY’s Spring 2022 Class 04 Demo Day

It was definitely a night to remember! After months of hard work, many came together to celebrate the milestones and accomplishments our Class 04 companies achieved during our Spring 2022 program. The event began with opening remarks from Joan Spivak, Senior Director, Life Sciences for Empire State Development, an organization that we are proud to partner with as we work together to build and strengthen the life science and deep tech ecosystem here in New York and beyond. In addition to hearing about each company’s mission, IBNY’s Program and Partnership Coordinator, Maddy Behr detailed what our unique startup development program offers to each team and ways that industry and professional experts can collaborate with us while Alex Hall-Daniels and Lindsay Atkeson, IBNY’s Business Analysts, discussed upcoming future trends in human and planetary health. After each company shared how they were solving issues across three sectors (Therapeutics, Diagnostics, and Industrial and Agriculture Tech), there was a palpable excitement and energy to help these teams succeed in the room. Below, you can find a detailed list of each company and ways to contact them to learn more.

Interested in applying? We are currently accepting applications for our upcoming IBNY05 Fall 2022 cohort here.



Industrial and Agricultural Tech

Sea & Believe developing realistic, flakey plant-based cod

The Spoon article “Sea & Believe is Making Plant-Based Whole Cut ‘Cod’ That Flakes Like Real Fish” reports on the development of a new product for a startup that already sells two alt-fish items, a seaweed burger and seaweed goujons. Growing up in Ireland, Sea & Believe (SOSV IBSF12 2021) founder Jennifer O’Brien discovered the health benefits of eating seaweed to help with her asthma. According to the article, O’Brien and Chief Technology Officer Piyali Chakraborty believe their alt cod filet made from Irish seaweed “will be the first plant-based seafood product to flake just like the real thing.”

The story is also covered in Vegconomist.

Announcing the second annual SOSV Climate Tech 100, including 58 IndieBio alums

Now in its second year, the SOSV Climate Tech 100 is shaping up to be a great showcase for SOSV’s climate tech mission and investing. More than half of the companies on the list—58 to be exact—graduated from IndieBio. 

In the past year, the 100 have doubled in valuation, reaching more than $11 billion, and the amount of capital raised by the same companies also doubled, to reach 3.8 billion. The number of unicorns on the list  jumped from two (Formlabs, GetAround) to five (Perfect Day, NotCo, Upside Foods), and those five represent 10% of the climate unicorn count globally. 

In this post over at SOSV’s website, there is a lot more detail on the Climate Tech 100’s  founders and  investors, as well as the complete list. Also worth noting: the planning of this year’s SOSV Climate Tech Summit (October 25 – 26) is well underway (register now). We look forward to advancing the conversation about the emerging climate tech ecosystem with investors, founders, and leaders.

Stämm Biotech raises $17M in series A for its next-gen, 3D printed bioreactor

TechCrunch” “Stämm Biotech raises $17M for its next-generation, 3D printed bioreactor” reported the series A round was led by Verana Capital and supported by several new and follow-on investors, including SOSV.  According to the article, Buenos Aires-based Stämm Biotech (SOSV IBSF07 2018) uses a 3D printer to create a bioreactor that employs microfluidics. The Stämm device creates a “dense network of microchannels that pass cells through the nutrients and oxygen they need.”

Although still in the early stages of commercialization, the startup says it is “working with one European biopharma company focusing on producing biosimilars” and has five potential new partners in the pipeline, aiming for “pilot scale” in 2022.

SOSV’s Year in Review 2021: Deep tech’s inflection point

In “SOSV 2021: The year in review,” SOSV Managing General Partner Sean O’Sullivan goes over the factors that drove a 40% increase in assets under management and lifted several portfolio companies to unicorn status in what was a “stunning” year for SOSV. 

More important, O’Sullivan argues that the deep tech investing category has hit an inflection point, which is important to SOSV’s deeptech driven missions in human and planetary health. He cites the rapid increase in valuation of the SOSV Climate Tech 100, up 66% since last April to reach $10 billion, and the great progress of SOSV’s companies in the food sector, where SOSV is top-ranked. He cites the following: 

  • In July, NotCo, a 2017 IndieBio grad, raised a $235 million series D led by Tiger Global and reached a reported $1.5 billion valuation. NotCo is a food technology company that originated in Chile and makes plant-based milk and meat replacements.
  • In September, Perfect Day, a 2014 RebelBio company, raised $350 million in a round led by Temasek that pushed the company to a reported $1.5 billion valuation. Perfect Day makes animal-free dairy products.
  • In November, Upside Foods (FKA Memphis Meats), an IndieBio 2015 graduate, opened the world’s first commercial scale production facility, in Emeryville, California, for the production of sustainable, cultured meat.
  • In December, The Every Company (FKA Clara Foods), another IndieBio 2015 graduate, raised $175 million and earlier this year reached an agreement with AB InBev to brew animal free proteins at industrial scale.

Read more.

IndieBio NY Class 3 Demo Day: Ready to make an impact

IndieBio NY Demo Day was a huge success! The 10 graduating startups gave 3-minute presentations on the huge problem they are tackling in human or planetary health, their technical product that solves the problem, and the opportunity for immense impact for good when these startups succeed.

Thank you for all the enormous support to our founders and for believing in the vision that biology is the future.

Congrats to the fantastic startups who participated in IndieBio NY Class 3:

  • Bosque Foods: Whole muscle meat alternatives grown naturally from fungi
  • Ceragen: Probiotics for plants to increase crop yields
  • Helex: Enabling safer gene editing
  • Inso Biosciences: Next-generation sample prep. In solution
  • Kutanios: Defending skin against environmental and aging-related damage
  • Kyomei: Transforming meat protein production with plants
  • Pannex Therapeutics: Developing life-transforming therapies based on blocking Pannexin 1 channels
  • RizLab Health: Bringing blood analysis to patients’ fingertips
  • Tômtex: Designing the future of sustainable biomaterial
  • Upright: Plant-based goods to nourish the world

Did you miss it? Do you want to watch again? Review the short presentations from each IndieBio NY Class 3 at the event archive here or enjoy the event recording below.

Bosque Foods: Whole-Cut Meat Substitutes From Fungi

Consumers looking for meat alternatives love their nuggs and burgers, but no company has recreated the experience of a chicken cutlet or scallop in taste and texture. Bosque Foods leverages the power of fungi to create whole-cut meats to satisfy any vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian using clean ingredients and minimal processing. We spoke with CEO Isabella Iglesias-Musachio about her whole-cut alternative and the future of food.

Watch Bosque Foods present at IndieBio NY Class 3 Demo Day

“I think that we’re gonna have a lot of different types of foods that are coming to market in the next 5 to 10 years that are really going to change food and our culinary traditions.”

How did you learn about the problems around our current food systems?

I was born in New York, and I ended up going to school for sustainable agriculture and sustainable development. It was while studying about agriculture that I learned about animal farming, and all of the disastrous side effects of our mass agricultural system and how that links to issues of climate change. It’s where I learned about largely the carbon footprint of the animal agriculture industry, as well as the inhumane practices in terms of raising livestock. 

That’s what made me decide to become a vegetarian at 16. That’s also where I got really interested in food and food technology. And, yeah, that’s what sparked my interest in sustainability, in different types of food products, and why I would later one day start Bosque Foods. Kinoko Labs.

What led you to found Bosque Foods?

I got my degree, and then I ended up working actually in different NGOs and nonprofits, with sustainable agriculture as well. But eventually, I started working in the tech industry. 

I got recruited by a French corporation, so moved to Europe, and helped to open multiple Tech Shop startups throughout France. After that, I went on to work for another startup in Berlin, in Germany called InFarm. So over the course of my career, I worked in pretty much only startups after, you know, working in just nonprofits and NGOs. I found from that experience that I really love the pace of startups. I also felt like you could tackle really ambitious problems and really big humanitarian issues with the startup and actually succeed. 

So I’m very used to working in startups. I’m very familiar with building them and you know, also have a lot of experience in working in different stages of the startup, so for me, it was kind of like a natural step to start my own startup.

What is missing from plant-based products available on grocery shelves today?

In comparison to plant based meat alternatives, what’s on the market today is mostly burgers and sausages and nuggets and all these de-texturized protein products. And at the end of the day, what consumers want are processed products that are minimally processed, healthier, nutrient dense, and that they have more variety and texture. 

It’s very hard to create a whole textured product with just a pea protein isolate, it has to be extruded, which means it has to become ultra-processed with a label that’s, you know, 20, 40 ingredients long. Consumers look at that, and they don’t want to eat that every day or they feel they don’t want to feel guilty about eating that every single day. 

So what we’re able to create are products that are minimally processed, nutrient dense, thereby healthier, while also having a meat like texture, naturally. Mycelium has an inherent fiber structure and network that allows us to leverage that, you know, perfectly for the use and creating whole cuts.

How do mycelium create whole-cut meat substitutes?

Mycelium is the vegetative root network of a fungi. An everyday example of where you would find mycelium is actually underground–if you were to go in the forest and you see a mushroom for example, popping up, then you what you can actually understand is that mycelium is all the root network underneath, that connects to different mushrooms and also to different plants 

But there’s also ways that you can cultivate mycelium not using soil, you can cultivate it the way that we do, which is essentially like tricking the mycelium into thinking that it’s in the ground, or that it’s in a tree trunk, for example. 

And so we mimic the environment of soil or we mimic the environment of a tree trunk so that the mycelium grows within our very pure and clean environment. And in that way, we’re able to cultivate pure mycelium. We then harvest that and we use that as the main ingredient in our meat alternatives.

What is your dream for Bosque Foods’ products?

By creating products that consumers can make a one-to-one switch for and that they that they love and that they adopt, we’ll be able to lessen their reliance on animal based products. So the idea is essentially that the more we can convince people to eat non-animal-based products instead of their typical animal meat. 

For me, I hope that people will just really love the product and love the way it tastes and be able to use it in the way that they would typically use regular animal meat. I think the ideal is that a consumer can basically have a one-to-one switch for their animal product with our product. So anytime that a normal person, a consumer, would want to have a barbecue or, you know, make themselves whatever their favorite meat dish is, they could instead use the product that we create.

How will our food landscape change in the next few years?

We’re really at this inflection point, I think in history. There’s the Industrial Revolution, and we’re now in this other type of revolution, where we can create food in extremely different ways, that are not only very different, but also healthier and more sustainable. 

We’re at, I think, one of the most interesting points in history from a technology perspective, because it’s really right now that the future of food is being created. 

Ideally, we’re creating a product that people can use today, that they’re going to be able to, you know, not change their entire culinary tradition, but just incorporate what we’re building. But at the same time, I think that we’re gonna have a lot of different types of foods that are coming to market in the next 5 to 10 years that are really going to change food and our culinary traditions.

Helex Bio: Building the GPS for Gene Therapies

CRISPR may be a Nobel Prize winning discovery, but its translation into a therapeutic use raises many questions on safety, edit specificity and their consequences. In CRISPR, a short RNA (guide RNA) navigates the Cas enzyme to make the edit in the right place, and this gRNA plays a critical role in safety. Helex’s novel platform is advancing the design, in vitro validation and manufacturing of therapy grade synthetic gRNAs to accelerate drug developers to enhance safety of their therapies. 

Watch Helex present at IndieBio NY Class 3 Demo Day

We spoke with CEO Poulami Chaudhuri, Ph.D., about a future without genetic disease. 

What is the mission of Helex Bio?

The mission of Helex is to drive synthetic guide RNA driven therapeutics to solve for rare genetic conditions by partnering with drug developers. Safety is one of the biggest challenges in translating promising technologies like CRISPR into workable therapies, and we want to contribute to making gene editing safer, ultimately accelerating these therapies to market. 

What inspired you to found Helex? 

I have experienced firsthand the advancement of science from a genetics perspective to be able to accurately read the genetic code and understand its consequences on human life. It is extremely inspiring to see how we have moved from accurately reading the code to holding the potential to actually solve for these conditions. 

As a new mother, I wanted to apply my extensive experience in the space of genetics, molecular biology and bioinformatics to contribute to alleviating the pain undergone by those who suffer from rare genetic conditions that until now have had no real solutions. 

What is the key to developing safer CRISPR-based gene therapies?

To develop safer CRISPR-based gene therapies, it is critical to deepen our understanding of the core cellular and tissue mechanisms, and thus to understand the impact of making a DNA edit on all aspects of these cell and tissue mechanics. 

While science has come a long way, the specificity of edits and its consequences of off-targets needs to be better understood and defined. The human body is complex, and every edit has a unique and significant impact. This impact has to be uncovered at many dimensions to make these therapies safer. 

How does Helex create safer therapies?

Helex is the GPS for gene editing. We look at the entire design of guide RNA from a three dimensional, four dimensional perspective. We have an AI-based modular platform that makes the most precise guide RNAs which are gene, cell & tissue specific. 

Today one of the biggest challenges for performing gene therapies within the body, or in vivo, is the unintended tissue effects. So while the entire field is working towards vector innovation and development, at Helex, we are designing tissue-specific guide RNAs. These tissue-specific guide RNAs act as an extra layer of safety even when there is a leaky expression by the vector.

What does it mean to design guide RNA from a 3D or 4D perspective?

At Helex, we are advancing this science using the principles of epigenetics which states that structure defines function. Every cell functions differently, and the epigenetics vary between cell types. 

Our platform informs guide RNA design keeping in mind these core principles, and are catered to every cell/ tissue type to make them extremely specific. This is especially pertinent when we talk about in-vivo or inside the body editing. 

In addition, we do a very detailed safety characterisation of the edits at the genotypic, phenotypic level, and keeping in mind the impact on the target gene and all other genes associated with it. This is the 3D/ 4D holistic approach that we take. 

How will you work with other cell & gene therapy companies? 

We intend to be a lead guide RNA optimizing partner for drug developers, where we custom design gRNAs using our platform and based on their therapeutic modality. We will validate  and characterize these gRNAs as drug substances and ultimately synthesize them for the drug developers. 

What keeps you motivated to bring your product to market? 

Complete strangers reach out to us on social media platforms like LinkedIn and give us encouragement because they have a loved one that is suffering from one of these conditions, and express their hope for these therapies to see the light of the day. We feel a sense of purpose and inspiration despite the surmounting challenges.

RizLab Health: Bringing Instant Blood Analysis to Patients’ Fingertips

RizLab Health is addressing the pandemic of antimicrobial resistance and helping clinicians by pinpointing the source of infection (and thus preventing inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions) with their point-of-care device, the CytoTracker. The CytoTracker differentiates bacterial from viral infection profiles within minutes. A 200-person clinical study demonstrated the CytoTracker beats the specificity of current testing methods, making it the most affordable, portable, and accurate blood analyzer, with additional applications on the horizon.

Watch Rizlab Health present at IndieBio NY Class 3 Demo Day

We spoke with RizLab CEO Mehdi Javanmard, Ph.D., about his portable blood analyzer and what science tells us can really be tested using a drop of blood.

What work prepared you for making small, portable lab devices?

I started out working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, where we were working on making accelerators that are normally several miles long, that can make electrons travel at the speed of light, down to the size of a shoe box. 

The lab that I did my doctoral studies in Stanford, the Stanford Genome Technology Center, was was home to numerous spin off companies, and numerous innovative discoveries in the space of biotechnology, namely, the DNA microarray, and also many important large biotech companies spun out of that lab, including Illumina. 

I was working on a project that involved taking large scale labs, and shrinking it down to the size of a chip.

How does the name RizLab relate to a portable white blood cell lab?

So as an electrical engineer, I was always fascinated with miniaturization. of labs. I did my doctoral studies on making labs for detecting cells, microbes, and mammalian cells, shrinking them, making them really small. I continued further developing these technologies over the years in an academic setting. 

When the technology got to a point where I felt it was robust enough to actually be used in the hands of patients, that’s when we decided to spin off a company. 

The word riz in Farsi, which is the language spoken in Iran, which is the land that my parents immigrated from over 40 years ago, means very tiny. And since I’ve dedicated my whole career to making very tiny labs, we decided to name the company, Riz Lab.

How does the first product from RizLab Health, the Cytotracker, measure blood components?

The Cytotracker is a fully electronic device that has a really small reader thatt fits in the palm of your hand, and a tiny microchip that plugs in, which is disposable. And the disposable test strip has inside it a microfluidic channel with sensors. 

What that means is that there’s a tiny channel that is thinner than the diameter of one human hair, where cells pass over micro electronic sensors in a single file line, similar to how airport passengers walk through a security line in a single file line, walking past a facial scanner.

Can you really do this with only a drop of blood?

The first question that investors and scientists alike ask us is: can you really do this with only a drop of blood? The answer is that there are many things that you can do with only a drop of blood, many different analytes [you can measure] as long as you’re focused, and you’re targeting the right set of analytes so that the concentrations are not widely different. 

What’s difficult though, with a single drop of blood is, trying to tackle a wide range of analytes, trying to do 200 things at once that have, you know, over six orders of magnitude, right? That’s one million times difference in concentration—that’s very hard. 

Focusing on molecules and analytes that are fewer in number while using a more targeted approach—that’s something that is completely feasible.

What insight allowed you to create the Cytotracker?

Quantifying white blood cells in a drop of blood is challenging, because it’s similar to a haystack that has hundreds of millions of straws of hay with a few thousand needles, and you’re trying to find out exactly how many needles are in that haystack. 

What we did was come up with a novel way to make the hay straws invisible, electrically, and only be able to detect and quantify the needles.

How does your recent clinical trial support the mission of RizLab Health?

RizLab’s mission is to democratize diagnostic technology by making it extremely portable and extremely affordable. 

Results of our recent 200-person study mean for RizLab is that it proves the speed, the portability, and also the accuracy of our device, showing that this is a commercially viable option that has the potential to make it all the way to regulatory clearance. 

I hope to see in the future that one day everybody will have access to tiny labs, so that they can continuously monitor their health and so that diseases can be diagnosed within minutes, not days.

Pannex Therapeutics: Anti-Addictive Painkillers to Save Lives

Cells send “danger” signals to alert the immune system when they are under attack. Under the wrong conditions, these signals can lead to chronic inflammation and many downstream pathologies, including chronic pain. Pannex Therapeutics stops the production of one of these danger signals—extracellular ATP—by blocking a protein called the Pannexin 1 channel, which sends ATP outside of the cell. This novel mode of action will help Pannex CEO David Bravo, Ph.D., as he develops drugs to treat chronic pain and other diseases caused by incorrect danger signaling.

Watch Pannex Therapeutics present at IndieBio NY Class 3 Demo Day

We spoke to David about building Pannex Therapeutics.

What inspired you to help those suffering from chronic pain?

When I was a clinician, I had to support a lot of people in pain. And it was super frustrating to see how they struggled with that. And the drugs appear not to work and it’s like, what’s going on here? This is a human burden, and nobody seems to care. 

And also my mother in law, she suffers chronic pain, everyday. She started on opioids and we almost lost her. There’s gotta be another thing to do, and there was nothing. So I took action.

I’m David Bravo, I’m the CEO of Pannex Therapeutics. I’m from Chile, although I was born in Brazil, and by training, I’m a physical therapist and a PhD in neuroscience. From that point from the PhD, I started with this crazy idea of: what if I have one molecule that can block many diseases? And I found that target in the Pannexin 1 channel.

What are the biggest problems around chronic pain?

Chronic pain is a high demand medical need because it affects 100 million Americans today. And it costs billions of dollars to the healthcare system. And the best choice that the patients have, the opioids, are killing one American every 15 minutes. And the other drugs, the non opioids, fail in 50% of the cases in relieving pain.

We are trying to change the opinion that there is no solution for chronic pain. This is a common opinion among physicians, that chronic pain is a too-complex phenomenon, so it’s really almost impossible to solve it. But we believe we can do that—and it’s not being pretentious, because science backs this up. We believe that we will bring a definite solution.

What is the mission at Pannex Therapeutics?

The company mission at Pannex is to become the first and only Pannexin 1 channel company, and from that to help mankind to solve many problems in different therapeutic areas.

The other opinion we are trying to change here is that you can treat many diseases by targeting just one target. This is why we’re called Pannex Therapeutics. 

We believe (and our investors, too) that if we target Pannexin, we can go for chronic pain, which I discovered during my PhD, but also go on to pursue and solve and prevent opioid addiction, autism, epilepsy and your inflammation, and other indications. 

There’s tons of data that supports these ideas. And we’re trying to replicate those with our molecules that are selective to the channel. 

What is your unique therapeutic solution for chronic pain? 

Our solution for chronic pain is called PNX3. It’s a molecule that is selective and potent to block specifically the Pannexin1 channel.

We found that PNX3 decreases chronic musculoskeletal chronic pain in rat models at the same level of gabapentin, which is the main competitor on the market, but with 10 times less dose, which means less side effects and less toxicity. 

Also, we found that PNX3 is able to decrease ATP release from brain cells. The Pannexin 1 channel mostly secretes or releases ATP, and we were able to decrease that by 97%, so we have a clear mechanism of action. 

We further discovered that PNX3 crosses the membrane to go directly from the blood to the brain—and it is safe for the brain, because we make experiments in which we put together brain cells and the drug for 24 hours and 100% of the brain cells survived.

How will you get your therapeutic compounds into patients’ hands?

We are narrowing down our selection in order to get to our final candidate. We will look for an easy and quick way to pass through the FDA approval; with that, we will start our safety studies in healthy humans for the phase one clinical trial. 

After that, we’ll go to phase two clinical trials in small groups of people in pain, for example. At that point, we will work in parallel on other indications in humans, probably migraine, epilepsy and, of course, opioid addiction, with the molecules that have been already approved by the FDA to be tested in humans. Then the next one, we go to bigger multi-center studies into phase three clinical trials. 

We believe, as a company, that we can provide this package of technology to the pharmaceutical companies that have the resources and experience to go for it and go to the market. 

Upside Foods and others await FDA approval to produce cultured meat

Photo: Upside Foods

The Bloomberg article “Ready to eat some lab-grown meat? The FDA will soon decide,” reports “the science experiment” that is lab-grown meat “could soon reach your supermarket.” The meat it refers to is grown by Upside Foods (SOSV IBSF02 2015), a startup founded by cardiologist Uma Valeti which recently opened a 53,000-square foot culture-meat production facility in Berkeley ahead of official approvals to sell the product. The article says Upside is currently awaiting FDA regulatory requirements and approval to sell and ship cruelty-free meat, which will likely be chicken nuggets and chicken breasts. 

Chase Purdy, the author of Billion Dollar Burger: Inside Big Tech’s Race for the Future of Food, is quoted about recent developments in the approval process: “There’s been this haggling over the regulatory framework, but these are signs that the agencies are really close.”

AlgiKnit moves its eco-conscious materials production to NC for next stage of growth

Vegconomist reports “Kelp Yarn to Be Produced at Scale as AlgiKnit Opens North Carolina Hub.” The article says AlgiKnit (SOSV RebelBio 05) “aims to cut the fashion industry’s carbon emissions in half” with its eco-conscious biomaterials created from kelp. The company’s new facility in Triangle Park, NC, will house R&D, business, and manufacturing as it prepares to commercialize, scale production, and accelerate growth.

Regarding AlgiKnit’s choice for their new location, co-founder and COO Aleksandra Gosiewski says, “North Carolina’s Research Triangle area is becoming a hub for big tech and life sciences, and we look forward to collaborating with other companies focused on scientific innovation and disruption. We’re also excited for the opportunity to tap into the deep and diverse pool of talent and knowledge in the area to strengthen our scientific and engineering divisions.”

Announcing IndieBio NY Class 3 Demo Day

IndieBio is proud to announce its Demo Day for New York Class 3, taking place on January 27, 2022, with activities scheduled from 12:00pm-1:00pm.

Reserve your tickets here.

IndieBio is the world’s leading biotech startup development program, which supports startups tackling the biggest problems facing human and planetary health. Startups develop scientific projects into products that will transform our food, therapeutics, biomaterials, and diagnostics industries–and more.

IndieBio Demo Day is the opportunity to celebrate with these startup founders, as they highlight the milestones made during the IndieBio program. We welcome you to IndieBio NY Class 3 Demo Day to meet and applaud the deeply mission-driven teams.

The program will feature CEOs from around the world, using biotechnology to solve the biggest problems facing human and planetary health. Get a sneak peak of the startups that will be presenting here.

Upside Foods CEO Uma Valeti on the vegan-friendly benefits of cultured meat

Fortune’s article “Can lab-based meat be vegan?” explores the rapidly evolving industry of cultured proteins and what implications it may have for those who choose a vegan diet. Using Upside Foods (IBSF02 2015) as an example, the article points out how the most common reasons for eating vegan—sustainability, reducing animal cruelty, conserving natural resources—will be called into question by the developing cultured meat economy.

About the inevitable debate, Upside Foods founder and CEO Dr. Uma Valeti says, “We can reduce logistics enormously because we don’t have feed [lots]. We don’t have a slaughterhouse. We don’t have the safety issues that come with having herds of animals intensely confined. But in order to get to scale, we need to have public-private partnerships and continued investment in the field. I have enormous optimism that this is an opportunity not to miss for any stakeholder who cares about impact food and economic opportunity.”

Meat the Future: Behind the Scenes of the Next Agricultural Revolution – December 7

Join SOSV and IndieBio for a panel discussion about the forthcoming “Meat the Future” documentary. This virtual event on December 7, 5:30-6:30 pm PT, is free and open to the public. Register on Hopin.

Told over the span of five years (2016 – 2021), the award-winning documentary Meat the Future chronicles the birth and acceleration of the cultivated meat revolution through the journey of Mayo Clinic-trained cardiologist Dr. Uma Valeti, the co-founder and CEO of Upside Foods (previously Memphis Meats). 

Tune in for a live conversation with Uma Valeti and Meat the Future Director Liz Marshall. Joining them will be Po Bronson, Managing Director of SOSV’s IndieBio, the startup program where Upside Foods produced the first ever cultured meatball in 2016. The panel will be moderated by journalist and author Amanda Little, who is in the film and writes about the environment, agriculture, and innovation. 

The group will discuss the significance of the film, the rapidly evolving cultured-meat industry, and a world where real meat is produced sustainably without the need to breed, raise, and slaughter animals. 

This event is a co-production of SOSV IndieBio and The Redford Center.

Deep Tech NYC Meetup with SOSV’s HAX and IndieBio on Nov. 17

Deep Tech NYC

Join Venture Capital firm SOSV’s deep-tech programs IndieBio and HAX, and tech networking app Supermomos, for drinks and networking.

Come enjoy drinks with deep-tech VC’s, founders, engineers, scientists, and ecosystem partners. If you’re interested in starting a company or already a founder, if you work at a tech company or are looking for a job at a deep tech startup, you’re encouraged to attend and connect! Register here.

Where: The Crooked Knife, 232 West 14th Street, New York, NY

Upside Foods new commercial facility will scale production—and give tours

Fast Company reports on the grand opening of Upside Foods’ (formerly Memphis Meats) (IBSF02 2015) new 53,000-square-foot food production facility in Emeryville, CA.  “Take a look inside this shiny, industrial ‘cultivated meat’ factory of the future” describes the company’s first commercial space for producing meat—chicken, beef, duck, and other meat—from cells grown inside bioreactors. By building the factory in the middle of a bustling neighborhood and designing it to welcome visitors for tours starting in January, Upside Foods’ CEO Dr. Uma Valeti aims to demystify cultured meats and encourage the public to embrace the concept. 

Valeti said, “What’s happened in the last five years is unlike anything that’s ever happened in the food industry. Now we know there’s nearly 100 companies across the world, in nearly every meat-producing and meat-consuming country, trying to do cultivated meat. And that type of acceleration has never happened in food, especially for a completely new space.”

To see video of the grand opening, click here.

Aanika Bio founder to appear in Hulu’s “The Next Thing You Eat”

From lab-grown fish to burger flipping robots, Hulu’s new six-episode docu-series “The Next Thing You Eat” will explore the changes in what we eat. To help advance that discussion, co-founder and CSO Ellen Jorgensen of Aanika Biosciences (SOSV RebelBio) joins an episode to explain how they use microbes to trace and authenticate products in the supply chain. The show premieres on October 21, but you can see the trailer here (Jorgensen appears at 1:57).

Today, we welcome our third cohort of world-changing biotech founders to IndieBio NY!

Germs, Interrupted: Disinfection Innovation Goes Global

A New York-based startup is about to commercialize the first true innovation in disinfection since Louis Pasteur. The startup, Halomine Inc, was founded by Mingyu Qiao and Ted Eveleth, and their first product, HaloFilm™, extends the lifetime of bleach on surfaces from minutes to weeks. At the start of the pandemic, we at IndieBio were really happy to welcome them to our inaugural IndieBio New York cohort; now that they are on the verge of commercializing, we’re even more pleased to support a company that will have huge impacts on human health.

Disinfection innovation is now going global: Halomine recently announced a strategic alliance with Diversey, a leading global provider of hygiene, infection prevention, and cleaning solutions, who will adopt HaloFilm™ technology for institutional and food and beverage markets.

No doubt, this partnership offers a significant opportunity for both Halomine and Diversey: the global surface disinfectant market size was valued at $4.54B in 2020. But the bigger opportunity is the improved human health this partnership represents: HaloFilm’s efficacy against drug-resistant fungi such as Candida auris means this technology can prevent deadly hospital outbreaks.

HaloFilm™ also extends surface disinfection against bacteria and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. When the Halomine team pitched to IndieBio New York, the COVID-19 pandemic was only beginning, and the team saw a benefit for a long-acting antiviral disinfectant (data hadn’t yet shown that surface transmission is relatively minimal). SOSV invested in many companies battling the pandemic, including Halomine, but Halomine’s technology was also a long-term investment with applications in many sectors.

What sectors? Think of food preparation: industrial kitchens and food processing premises can be sources of foodborne illness. Conveyor belts can be coated with biofilms, hard-to-eradicate bacterial growth, where pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes lurk. Technologies that kill pathogens on contact will prohibit biofilm growth, preventing some estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. each year. Given that the food processing and handling sector is predicted to exceed $4 trillion by 2024, this technology offers both the chance to improve human health and make significant revenues.

Innovating the disinfection process

The process of disinfection hasn’t changed in 150 years. Why should it? Bleach is a very efficient disinfectant. But consider that 15 minutes after cleaning a surface with bleach, the bleach disappears, and a surface can be recolonized by nearby microorganisms. Now ask yourself: how often are surfaces cleaned with disinfectants? 

HaloFilm™ is a simple spray that is applied before any bleach-based cleaning solution. This creates a thin-layer film that holds bleach molecules close to the surface, ready to attack any microbes that land in the crevices and valleys that constitute smooth surfaces at a microscopic level. The film is harmless to human touch (“as safe as the water in a swimming pool,” as Eveleth likes to say), and the film can be “recharged” with fresh bleach applications to maintain disinfection.

The New York Story

Most of the Candida auris cases in the United States have occurred in New York, which may be why the solution was New York-based as well. Ted Eveleth, CEO of Halomine, joined the company in 2019 with this antifungal application in mind. Then came COVID19. 

Eveleth and co-founder & CTO Mingyu Qiao, Ph.D., met in Ithaca, NY, where Qiao worked on the technology at Cornell University. They licensed the technology and joined the first IndieBio NY program in May 2020 at the beginning of the U.S. COVID19 outbreak. Halomine immediately pivoted to working on coronaviruses, and the IndieBio team celebrated with Halomine when HaloFilm™ was shown to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 using the rigorous CDC rapid surface test for COVID. 

The key connection between Halomine and Diversey was made during the IndieBio NY program. Qiao, encouraged by the IndieBio team to make numerous cold calls, reached out via LinkedIn to the CTO at Diversey pitching Halomine’s latest antiviral data—and the rest, as they say, is history.      

From Local to Global

Controlling infectious disease is a global problem, of course, which is why this partnership is a boon for human health. Partnering with a worldwide company like Diversey means that Halomine will be able to see their technology applied around the world for many uses. The company has specialties in healthcare, facility management, food & beverage, hospitality, and retail spaces, allowing HaloFilm™ to move quickly into the markets where it is most needed.

We are excited to see this technology accelerated into its needed applications. Congratulations to Halomine and Diversey on your partnership!

SOSV, the global venture firm, just closed a $100 million fund to back its maturing startups

Sean O’Sullivan, the founder of the global venture outfit SOSV, has slowly but steadily built up a sizable operation over the years.

SOSV started off as a family office, investing the capital of O’Sullivan after he co-founded two companies, including MapInfo, an outfit that went public in 1994 before Pitney Bowes acquired it years later, in 2007. The seed-stage investing outfit has since raised three more funds, including a $277 million early-stage fund that it closed in 2019 and is actively investing from right now.

Now, to complement those funds, the organization has raised $100 million for what it’s calling a “select fund” that’s meant to help SOSV maintain its pro rata stake in some of its breakaway portfolio companies.

The New Biotech

Explore the “New Biotech” with the IndieBio team and learn how we can re-imagine, re-materialize, and rebuild the world together.

SOSV Takes On Y Combinator With A Pure Biotech Accelerator

As a traditional natural science, biologists used microscopes to better understand the human body. “A lot of therapeutics have been observations through nature. Like finding a tree bark and turning that into a drug,” CSO and Partner, Jun Axup explained. Yet as we continue to integrate technology into biology, we’re able to redesign and reengineer our very nature.

“Over the last 70 years, we have really perfected the ability to read, write, copy, cut, and paste DNA,” Axup continued. “Pretty much everything we see and use around us has some relation to biology, and can be potentially improved upon using biotechnology.”

Five years ago, in the early days of biohacking, IndieBio started as an experiment out of SOSV Accelerator, to give scientists a chance to become entrepreneurs. “We think that PhDs and other scientists can actually take the science that they’ve been working on and build a company,” Axup said.

In the early stages of IndieBio we invested in food, agriculture, medical devices, biopharma, neurotech, computational bio, industrial bio, and regenerative medicine. “We took the risk that nobody else would take,” Head of Investor Relations, Maya Lockwood said.

In some ways IndieBio is a petri dish, where we spread startups out into the bio-atmosphere. Some will survive and some will not. From watching many startup’s life cycles we’ve learned some important variables. What works in the market, who’s paying for what kind of technology, and what kind of team culture makes a successful company?

We’re now at an inflection point, where the pandemic has rapidly exposed our system’s vulnerabilities in our healthcare and food supply systems. While at the same time the technologies of the “future” don’t seem so far away.

For the last couple of decades humans have engineered digital systems to manipulate biology to scale sustainable solutions, launching the synthetic biology revolution. “We’re seeing a lot of this convergence in the neurotech space,” CTO, Pae Wu said. “New materials and digital systems are being able to interface really well and elegantly with biology, neurons, and muscles.”

Enter 2020, and we’ve experienced the reality of natural disasters and diseases threatening our lives. Through this we have realized, to maintain our human health we must also maintain our planet’s. “The two are hand in hand,” Axup said, “and in some ways, planetary health is more important. If we don’t have a planet, then our individual health doesn’t really matter.”

Here at IndieBio, we kept these lessons in mind when we invested in solutions for food supply, climate change, agriculture, medicine, and diagnostics.

As people continue to spearhead the development of biotechnology, we call out to investors to launch sustainability into the future. “For these companies to move on to the next level and grow, we need the participation of everyone,” Lockwood said. This requires the participation of venture capitalists, corporations, and policy makers.

We are building these world changing technologies by assessing the talent, and fostering an ecosystem that will help these companies through to the end. “As our companies graduate through our program,” Lockwood continued, “we’ve been learning that they are raising a lot of capital and going on to create whole new industries.” Within the next two to three years, many of the companies will raise to series A.

“Our long term vision is to improve human and planetary health by making more industries sustainable,” Lockwood said. The latest solution companies to our portfolio are in cosmetics, construction, fashion, and food industries.

In alliance with SOSV & Mayfield fund, we created the Genesis Consortium, to promote human and planetary health and make it accessible for others to co-invest in a sustainable future. “It’s really important right now that this is a process of collaboration and that we are more inclusive in building ecosystems that gets everyone involved,” Lockwood explained.

Last March we expanded our reach beyond Silicon Valley and opened an office in New York. “When you think of New York, you think of investors, right?” NY Communications Director, Julie Wolf said. Well, while NY pulls in NIH dollars, it’s not so great at pulling in VCs. As of 2016, for every NIH dollar there was only $0.06 in VC. “There’s not a lot of actual biotech startups,” Wolf said. IndieBio wants to change this.

With seven percent of all postdocs moving to New York City, “One of the roles at IndieBio New York is to identify the talent that needs that chance, that opportunity to take their idea and turn it into a company with transformative technology,” Wolf said. “Hopefully we won’t be alone.”

We are entering a new world where we can restore contaminated soil, improve fertility, make new blood supplies, and create abundant supplies of protein. There are solutions to the global challenges, we’re just not pulling our resources together. “We need to recognize that there’s huge potential at our hands,” Lockwood said. “Materials can now be made without extracting more resources from the earth and this is the news we want to focus on.”

This is an opportunity to rematerialize, reimagine, rebuild the world. “We need to stop and listen and reassess how we have been living,” Lockwood said.

For anyone who wants to explore the expansion of biology as a technology, our Managing Director, Po Bronson, along with IndieBio’s founder and Venture Advisor, Arvind Gupta, recently published a roadmap for the curious, Decoding the World.

To learn more about IndieBio and the portfolio of companies, watch our Demo Days. They showcase the talent of scientists who are rebuilding the world.

Introducing IndieBio San Francisco Class 10 and New York Class 1

IndieBio – now operating out of both San Francisco and New York – is proud to announce our new batches of startups. This is New York’s first batch, and San Francisco’s tenth. Though we are running the program virtually for now, all of the startups have secured access to lab and hardware space as needed. The challenge has only increased our focus to make sure these startups’ potentials are not compromised. The familiar feel of communal support and trust is bringing us all together. The transformation from scientists to entrepreneurs has begun and will continue. 

Apply to be a part of the next IndieBio class

Introducing IndieBio SF Class 10

IndieBio SF Batch 10 logos



Biomanufacturing through fermentation is becoming a huge industry, driving growth in foods, materials, fuels, biochemicals, and pharma. One of its biggest challenges is that when microbial factories are maximized for output, the stress causes genetic drift – these are known as “escape mutations.” The microbes’ yield falls, then collapses. Production has to be restarted, and days are lost. First reported in Nature Chemical Biology, Asimica has a novel way to bring stem-like properties to microbes, so that factory cells are continuously refreshed by younger, unmutated microbes. Asimica is selectively choosing fermentation partners to prove their impact.

Advanced Microbubbles


Getting drugs through the tumor barrier and across the blood brain barrier is a well-known, major challenge for medicine. Advanced Microbubbles uses tiny uniform bubbles, which they agitate with ultrasound at the site of a tumor, to open up the barriers so drugs can enter locally. Their bubbles can be delivered alongside the desired drug, or conjugated to many drugs.



Carbix turns our built urban world into sinks for CO2. Their novel bioreactor takes enriched CO2 from power and cement plants and in just hours converts it into cement and aggregates for the $900 billion construction industry, and home and yard goods for consumers looking to support the environment with their purchasing power. This technology enables sequestered CO2 to go into long term storage and high-value goods rather than being injected underground. Carbix can sell state and federal carbon credits as a result of their impact on industrial emissions.



As people age, their skin stops producing natural moisturizers like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. These tighten the skin, prevent age spots, and retain moisture. Synthetic and animal-based versions are the most common additives to cosmetic products. Cybele has an alternative, natural approach. Their products harness the skin biome, causing it to express these same highly-desired moisturizers, in much higher and efficacious quantities. Beyond moisturizers, they can express natural scents, natural insect repellants, and many more.

Ivy Natal


Ivy Natal is developing a novel process to create healthy human egg cells from skin cells, giving women the confidence in their ability to choose whether and when to have a child. Many fertility patients cannot have children except through the use of donor eggs. This can be due to surgery, chemotherapy, maternal age, or genetic conditions. Ivy Natal aims to enable these parents to have genetic children for the first time.



Khepra is building reactors to harness the stored chemical energy of our common waste streams, such as plastics and biomass. Their reactor uses frictive heating, cavitation, and acoustic pressure to break the chemical bonds in waste with zero extraction. This releases renewable chemicals and fuels. Ultimately they aim to create a two-way market for wastes and renewables. They’ll also partner with wind and solar energy providers to turn excess daytime energy – currently curtailed – into revenue.

Kraken Sense


Food and water contamination causes $77 billion in annual economic loss, just in the U.S. Recalls are not only expensive, they inflict real damage to brands’ reputation and scare consumers off entire product sectors. Kraken Sense is bringing real-time testing, with results in two minutes, to automated food and water systems, everywhere from the farms to kitchens. They are making an in-line autonomous device with refillable, single-use cartridges that employ carbon nanotubes magnetized with strain-specific antibodies to measure the concentration of pathogens, not just their presence. The safety of our food system has never been more paramount.



The market size of recombinant proteins today is $119 billion. But it’s expected to reach $400 billion just by 2025. To get there, a better approach to innovation is needed. Today, to produce any sort of custom recombinant protein, it takes weeks. This dramatically slows down scientists’ ability to test, iterate, and improve. Liberum’s affordable, benchtop device will cut that time down to a few hours. Scientists will love the control this gives them over their work. Liberum strongly believes that as custom proteins get as easy as pushing a button, the current $18 billion market for custom proteins will take a larger share of the overall market.



In a research study, Microgenesis began working with 40 fertility clinics, treating 287 women who had failed all attempts to get pregnant, including at least four expensive IVF treatments. These patients were beyond hope. With Microgenesis’ method of diagnosis and natural treatment, 75% of the women got pregnant. Microgenesis uses microRNA signatures, on swabs from both the gut and fertility biome, to diagnose dysbiosis and treat patients with neutraceuticals and diet-change. They intend to expand through fertility clinics, as well as cultivate a direct-to-consumer brand for women just beginning the journey.



The state of the art in row crops is to reject agrochemicals and employ soil rhizobacteria that support plant growth – known as “PGPRs.” Reazent does it one better. Reazent loads PGPRs into a natural carrier to treat soil, achieving 5x improvement. By improving the plant’s immune system, the crops can also forego pesticides. Reazent can work with up to 116 PGPR strains. Having started in soybeans and peppers, Reazent is now expanding to many crops, testing through both their own trials this summer and with partners.



According to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, silk has by far the worst environmental impact of any fabric. Innovations over the last century have been few and far between. Spintex has invented an entirely new, scalable method of making silk, inspired by how spiders (rather than silkworms) spin silk. It uses 1000x less energy than plastic fiber formation, and cuts silk emission by half. Spintex matches the material properties of premium silks, with no compromise on look and feel. Already working with several major brands, Spintex will also tune their fibers to improve performance, approaching the rarified properties of spider silk.


Introducing IndieBio NY Class 1:

IndieBio NY is grateful for support from the Partnership for New York City and Empire State Development.

Allied Microbiota


Industrial activity has produced 100 billion tons of contaminated soil in the United States, endangering both human and environmental health. Less than 0.1% of this soil is decontaminated because current technologies don’t work or are too expensive. 

Allied Microbiota’s novel ThermO+ process uses natural processes to destroy toxic organic soil contaminants, including petroleum waste products and chlorinated substances. The process remediates soil in weeks instead of years and is a low-cost method to convert toxic soil to reusable soil.



Originally developed for human medicine, nanocapsules are tiny molecular transporters that can deliver nutrients, drugs, or natural products to make dramatic improvements in animal health and sustainability. 

On track to outpace capture fisheries by 2030, aquaculture is growing by 15% per year. Yet this growth comes at great cost: many farmed animals die due to overcrowded facilities and disease (in some sub-sectors amounting to 50%), while the environment is polluted with additives and animal waste. 

BioFeyn’s solution is transportable, scalable across species, and integrates into existing supply chains to benefit both people and planet.



Single-cell sequencing technologies present a huge opportunity for rapid drug target identification, but data analyses currently require too much time and too many resources for widespread adoption by research teams. Researchers spend 30-fold the amount of time on data analytics as in the wet-lab, which limits discovery to 1-2 drug targets per year. 

The Biomage single-cell platform increases drug target discovery 30-fold at a fraction of the cost, allowing widespread application of cutting-edge sequencing technologies.



50% of women and 12% of men suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs) during their lifetime. Current UTI treatments present problems that include low efficacy, unwanted side effects, and accelerated development of antibiotic-resistant infections. Brightcure is solving the problem of poor treatment options for patients with recurrent UTIs by harnessing healthy, natural bacterial solutions to reduce the overuse of antibiotics. 

Cayuga Biotech


Following traumatic injury, the rate of death increases 1% for every 3 minutes a patient continues to bleed. The World Health Organization recognizes that bleeding is a global health threat. Genetic diseases and side effects of prescription drugs (such as anticoagulants) can further predispose individuals to major bleeding events.

Cayuga’s injectable clotting drug targets the site of injury to safely accelerate clot formation and save lives without the risk of thrombosis carried by currently available drugs.



Bacteria and viruses move easily surface-to-surface and person-to-person. Surface-associated microorganisms cause one of every three hospital-acquired infections and contribute to COVID-19 transmission.

HaloFilm is a companion product to chlorinated disinfectants that extends the life of chlorine on a surface, providing extended and continuous protection against bacteria and virus transmission, turning every surface into an antimicrobial surface.

Multus Media


Cultivated meat is a sustainable way of producing meat, without the need to kill animals. However, cultivated meat production is very expensive, a product of the animal-based nutrients required for its cultivation: these nutrients currently comprise more than 80% of production costs.

Multus Media is developing tailored, inexpensive nutrients to make cultivated meat completely animal-free and affordable for everyone.



Humans have generated more than 9 billion tons of plastic, and 79% of this has ended up in landfills. Current methodologies are unable to efficiently recycle some of the most commonly produced plastics.

Scindo is creating a novel biological platform for low-energy, green and economical recycling that turns low-value waste products into high-value compounds, creating a viable alternative to landfills.

SMT Labs


Mosquitoes are the most dangerous animal on earth. Mosquito-borne diseases like Dengue, Zika, yellow fever, West Nile fever, and Malaria infect hundreds of millions of people a year. Climate change is causing mosquitoes to spread rapidly, endangering millions more. 

SMT Labs is developing an affordable and scalable mosquito birth control to control the mosquito population and mosquito-borne disease.

Introducing IndieBio New York

The large, systemic problems facing humanity have never been clearer, nor has the need for innovative biotech solutions for these problems. The new IndieBio New York program, launching May 2020, doubles the number of companies building solutions to these problems.

Like the flagship San Francisco program, the companies accelerated in IndieBio New York will address both human and planetary health needs. The IndieBio mission to find startups whose technologies address these problems feels more urgent than ever. The new IndieBio program addresses these problems by providing early-stage biotech startups with three major areas of support as they grow their company:

  • A dedicated team.
  • Research facilities.
  • Mentorship and community.

Meet the IndieBio New York Team

The new IndieBio New York team is excited to welcome the inaugural cohort in May.

Partner, Stephen Chambers, Ph.D

Founding Scientist at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and co-Founder of Abpro Therapeutics.
Former CEO of SynbiCITE, the Innovation and Knowledge Center for Synthetic Biology in the United Kingdom.
Co-Founder of Bio-Start, the United Kingdom’s first life sciences accelerator.

“Working with founders of very early-stage companies, where advising and mentoring and relationship building really affect the life or death of a company, is some of the most rewarding work I’ve done. I look forward to helping founders in our teams move the needle and continue to grow.”

Partner, Rodrigo Mallo Leiva

Founder of 4 companies including a successful exit.
Angel investor.
Managing Director of RebelBio.

Adjunct Partner, Michael Aberman, M.D., M.B.A.

Former President and CEO at Quentis Therapeutics.
Former Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Strategy at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
Executive in Residence at Columbia Technology Ventures.

“IndieBio is known for its broad portfolio of companies across all life sciences disciplines. I’m excited to work with our IndieBio cohorts to develop the next wave of life-changing technologies.”

Communications Director, Julie Wolf, Ph.D.

Former Science Communications for the American Society for Microbiology.
Instructor at the community biology lab Genspace.
Co-Founder of Brooklyn Bio Inc.

“Every founder is not only an advocate for their company, but an advocate for a better future and an advocate for science. We hope that each founder in our program learns to inspire others within the biotech community and beyond.”

Program Manager, Alex Hall-Daniels

Previous Account Executive at Edelman London.
Former Program Associate at RebelBio.

“Our portfolio companies strive to solve major world problems. Working with companies who make crops more drought-resistant, materials more sustainable, and disease vectors less prevalent helps build a better future for everyone.”

Senior Associate, Sheng Ge

Previous Analyst, Associate, and now Senior Associate at SOSV through nearly a decade with the firm.

“I’ve worked with deep tech companies across SOSV and am excited to apply my expertise to the new IndieBio program.”

Program Location

IndieBio New York will be run out of Rockefeller University for its first year, occupying the 16th floor of the Weiss Building. The fully outfitted lab provides researchers with wet lab space, conference rooms, and common spaces for community gathering.

Mentorship and Community

The IndieBio New York program gathers founders of seed-stage companies for a 4-month intensive program. The new program applies the same cornerstone tenets of the San Francisco program: mentorship and community.

Mentors play a vital role in guiding early-stage founders. Throughout the program, mentors share their wisdom through talks to the entire group and by holding office hours for more intimate conversations.

“Relationship building is at the heart of entrepreneurship,” says Managing Director and Partner Steve Chambers. “Knowing whom to approach, and when and how, helps build the strong foundation necessary for companies to flourish. Our mentors serve the founders by sharing relationship-building tips and by becoming a part of the founders’ networks themselves.” The mentor network is further broadened by alliances with the Empire State Development and the Partnership Fund for New York City.

Community also grounds the IndieBio program. Working side-by-side for 4 months, founders learn not only from their mentors but also from each other, forming a support network that endures long after the program ends.

The team, facilities, mentorship, and community are important—and so is program adaptability. The COVID-19 pandemic requires nimble decision making to ensure all 4 components are up to IndieBio standards. Both San Francisco and New York IndieBio teams are working hard to navigate this unprecedented event and innovate program content for the founder communities they serve.

Introducing IndieBio Class Nine

IndieBio helps entrepreneurs build ground-breaking biotech companies. We’re excited to share our ninth class of 11 new startups. They have been here for thirty days, working tirelessly to derisk critical pieces of their science and business. The four month program will culminate in a Demo Day on the 6th of February.

AgriSea is creating methane-negative rice farms in the open ocean, with rice varietals that they’re engineering to grow in saltwater and drought-like conditions. It can also be used for bioremediation of fertilizer runoff zones. Rice feeds half the world, and is a $318 billion market. But in many countries, rice farming is in distress from both drought and seawater flooding. AgriSea’s rice can be grown in open water, or in conventional paddies flooded with seawater.

Avisa Myko: The molecule melanin is evolution’s answer to radiation. This natural supermaterial has unparalleled capacity to absorb all of the radiation spectrum and convert it into different forms of energy. Research has long shown that if melanin could be made affordable, there would be wide industrial applications for it — to replace SPF factors to block UV radiation in sunscreens, cosmetics, and clothing, to blocking gamma waves during cancer radiation therapy, and protecting workers and astronauts exposed to gamma radiation. It can also be used in energy applications, such as low-cost batteries and hydrogen production. However, production of melanin industrially has been stymied, and melanin has remained more expensive than gold. Until now. The team at Avisa Myko has spent years reducing the cost of melanin production via fungal fermentation, and can now produce it at 500 times lower than existing methods. Avisa is partnering with many corporations to include their melanin in a variety of products and formulations.

BioLumen makes a pill for weight loss and gut health; it’s made of a highly functionalized cellulose matrix to entrap sugars in the stomach so they are digested by your microbiome, not your body.

Chi Botanic: We may not realize how inefficiently many high-value plant products are grown. Some take years, or decades, to grow. And then the desired ingredients are often a tiny part of the plant. Chi Botanic creates just the end products, in bioreactors, without any of the waste — such as aloe, natural rubber, and citrus oils. Plant cells are poised to be the next big market in fermentation.

Dalton Bioanalytics detects thousands of blood biomarkers in a one-shot assay, using liquid chromatography mass-spectrometry enhanced by chemical normalization.

Diadem Biotherapeutics makes shelf-stable, engineered exosomes for the anti-inflammatory market, starting with COPD. Their engineered exosomes have the best aspects of both biologics and cell therapies, without their compromises.

Lupa Bio: Destructive inflammation underlies the vast majority of chronic diseases, however, current treatments are too toxic to be used in all but the most severe diseases. Lupa Bio is developing an entirely new therapeutic, derived from an oligosaccharide found in human milk, with the potential to be as effective as current drugs yet safe enough for all patients.

MemBio makes blood, using a novel hollow-fiber bioreactor to make universal O- blood, replacing or complementing the current volunteer donor system. For hospitals and blood centers, Membio’s OmniBlood solves the shortages in the supply chain and the difficulty of patient matching.

Michroma is a desperately needed solution for the food tech revolution. Michroma produces natural thermostable colorants for foods and cosmetics that are free of chemicals and mycotoxins. 70% of the foods we eat are colored with dyes. Many are synthetic chemicals linked to hyperactivity and cancer, or extracted from insects. Shouldn’t food dyes be made from food?

Pando Nutrition is solving the problem of antibiotic usage in the livestock industry. Even though growth-promoting antibiotics have been banned by the FDA since 2017, they are still widely used throughout the industry. Pando creates super-probiotics for healthy, productive livestock.

Primitives: Anything made of plastics today can be replaced by biopolymers. Primitives is a biomaterials company that engineers alternative plastics that can sense the environment and communicate to its users. Some applications include compostable food wrap that can tell you when food is rotting, and biodegradable cosmetics that changes color throughout the day.

Introducing IndieBio Class Eight

We’re excited to announce our eighth class at IndieBio. IndieBio invests in revolutionary technologies for human and planetary health, and each of these companies, though small today, has tremendous potential to become a very significant and disruptive company. We selected them from well over 300 who applied from all over the world. Over the next four months, they’ll be going through a rigorous process to commercialize their scientific and technical insights.



Beeline turns your body’s own cells into drug factories to express antibodies, enzymes, or cytokines. Their method is tissue-specific, facilitating the significant need for localization of drug expression. Their first focus is to replace expensive, monoclonal antibody regimens that have to be injected weekly. They’re working to reprogram patient’s T-regulatory cells to suppress inflammation, effectively curing patients for many years. Rheumatoid arthritis is their first indication.


The microbiome is one of the most impactful emerging fields in healthcare, yet fundamentally constrained by a lack of biomarkers to measure treatment efficacy. BiomeSense’s platform is a 30x reduction in the cost of doing longitudinal microbiome collection and analysis research, unlocking this exploding market.

Their single-chip, on-toilet design will prep and assay the microbiome strains and upload the data to their cloud. BiomeSense is quickly signing pilot partners to use their device in clinical trials, as well as securing LOIs with partners who desire access to their unique, centralized data. Their platform is well-positioned for CDER Biomarker Qualification for patient monitoring as microbiome therapeutics get approved.

Caspr Bio

Caspr is a diagnostics company that uses CRISPR for rapid detection of antimicrobial resistance.

The World Health Organization considers antimicrobial resistance the number one global health threat. It affects everybody — not just the 700,000 people a year today who die from antimicrobial resistance — but anyone who will develop an infection in the future. Today, when a patient has an infection, it takes three days to determine which bacterial strains are proliferating. Physicians are desperate to know, faster, if a patient has the resistant superbug KPC, or bacteria with the resistant-gene NDM-1. Caspr Bio is making an affordable, point-of-care device that can make this diagnosis in two hours. They use CRISPR to identify the DNA of the most dangerous infectious strains. They will be extending this platform to upgrade many diagnostics with CRISPR.

Gavilan Biodesign

Gavilan Biodesign is an in silico computational design company that redesigns drugs for pharma companies, so cancers cannot develop resistance to the drug.

Cancer cells mutate rapidly. Though targeted therapeutics kill most cancer cells, the mutated ones effectively escape, then proliferate. The cancer comes back. Currently, pharma companies design drugs to target a specific, likely mutation. But then a new mutation makes the cancer resistant to that drug, too. Gavilan is a unique computational drug design company with capabilities new to this field. Their physics-based engine models all possible mutations around a binding site to predict which set of mutations will successfully emerge. Then they redesign a drug to remain effective, not just against one or two mutations, but against all possible future mutations. They can search through 100 trillion molecular structures a day, arriving at superior drug compound structures in a matter of hours. Their goal is to work with many pharma partners to create a new class of targeted therapies that dramatically extend progression-free survival.

Guided Clarity

Guided Clarity has developed a new class of compounds to target and clear cells of dysfunctional mitochondria, improving cellular energy production. Their compounds are synthesized from naturally-occurring ingredients in food, so they are both safe and affordable as a medical food. In their first clinical study on healthy volunteers, the data showed an increase in insulin sensitivity, a reduction in inflammation marker NLR, and improved physical function. Guided Clarity is focused on healthy aging, improving mitochondrial function both in the brain and on the periphery.



11Biomics has developed a very effective, non-pesticide plant treatment that solves a huge problem for the fast-growing cannabis industry — powdery mildew disease. Powdery mildew disease can spike in a cannabis grow operation overnight, ruining a harvest worth millions. Existing antifungal treatments are ineffective or damage the plant. 11Biomics heals plants in a manner of hours by rebalancing the plant’s phytobiome, using natural hyper-antagonists to fungal diseases. Their platform of seven plant therapeutics allows 11Biomics to tune their therapy to different regions of the country, as well as treat other crops commonly affected by powdery mildew — hops, grapes, and tomatoes.

Blue Planet Ecosystem

Blue Planet develops modular systems that turn sunlight into fish — at an industrial scale.

A Blue Planet Ecosystem is a closed-loop stack of six shipping-containers; the system continuously self-optimizes as algae grows on the sunlight, zooplankton grows on the algae, and high-value commercial fish grows on the zooplankton. Thermal energy management and marine life conversion efficiency is handled by their software. In locations where land is cheap and sunlight is plentiful, dozens or hundreds of stacks can be deployed by customers. These will be countries, infrastructure investors, foodservice operators, farmers, and land-developers with temporarily-unused properties. Though fish is the output, the economics are very distinct from aquaculture because it’s a zero input system, creating a new asset type for agri-franchisers.

Decomer Technology

Plastics pollution is an exploding issue for CPG brands as the environmental impacts of products designed to be used for minutes but last for lifetimes is seen. Rather than attempt to change mass-market consumer behavior, industry is challenged to think green while maintaining convenience.

To solve this, Decomer Technology has developed a new sustainable packaging material that is edible and rapidly dissolves in liquids. It has widespread uses across the food industry, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and detergents. Their material is odorless, tasteless, and hypoallergenic, though flavors and micronutrients can be added. It can be tuned to dissolve in cold water, or hot water, or both. It’s very low cost and scalable for high volume manufacturing uses. They are partnering with CPGs for testing.

Electro-Active Technologies

Around the world, biomass is inefficiently converted to biogas or syngas, then to useable electricity. A more efficient approach is to convert liquid biomass and food waste straight to hydrogen for fuel cells. The founders of ElectroActive developed this bioconversion technology at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Their modular power cubes will be used in any quantity to provide renewable power anywhere food waste or biomass is prevalent. Electro-Active is a scalable solution that serves many industrial supply chains, especially in municipalities that have banned food waste from landfills.

New Culture

New Culture is making cheese without the cow. Combining dairy proteins, expressed by microflora, with plant lipids and sugars, their method arrives at curds that are then advanced into the traditional cheesemaking process, be that stirred, kneaded, stretched or aged. New Culture’s cheese has the signature textural properties and qualities that we’re all familiar with in dairy cheese. By removing the cow from the cheesemaking process, New Culture’s cheese is more sustainable, ethical, and better for the world.


Tinctorium is making the greenest bluejeans for the planet, using biofermentation in their indigo dye process. Across the $100 billion jeans market today, the vast majority of blue denim relies on chemical synthesis and chemical reduction, which significantly harms both the environment and the health of denim workers. Even naturally-grown, plant indigo is reduced with corrosive chemicals. Tinctorium is unique among denim producers, as their system is both scalable and free of chemical synthesis and reduction.


Check out our events for opportunities to meet the founders and learn about the future of biotech, and mark your calendar for Demo Day on June 25th!

About IndieBio

IndieBio is the world’s leading life sciences accelerator, having funded 105 biotech startups since starting in March 2015. Companies from all over the world apply to be part of a 4 month acceleration program which includes $250,000 funding, dedicated mentorship, and 24/7 access to a co-working space and bio-safety level 1 & 2 labs. During the program, teams are focused on turning science into product, closing customers, and raising follow-on investment.

Apply here to be in our next class!

Introducing IndieBio Class Seven

At IndieBio, we are on a mission to turn scientists into entrepreneurs to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Biology as a technology has now come to the point where we are able to design the world around us with unprecedented speed and precision to improve planetary and human health.

This renaissance is being fueled by converging megatrends of machine learning, CRISPR, genomics, and cellular agriculture and a wave of forward-thinking scientists leaving the halls of academia to build startups.

We have made many improvements to the IndieBio program in the past several months, including the addition of a leadership track with tailored mentors and sessions to help scientists become leaders.

We’ve also introduced an Adjunct Partner board, composed of subject-matter experts across the life sciences. The first six members are:

  • Alexander (Sasha) Kamb, PhD: Sasha has decades of experience leading R&D teams in biopharma. He’s currently the CSO of A2 Biotherapeutics, and previously was Senior VP of R&D at Amgen.
  • Darrin Crisitello, MBA: Darrin brings years of sales experience from across healthcare. He has scaled multiple large sales teams, with his most recent being Color Genomics and Natera.
  • David Eagleman, PhD: David is a renowned neuroscientist, entrepreneur, and author. He’s the CEO of NeoSensory, an adjunct professor at Stanford University, writer and presenter of PBS’s The Brain, and advisor to several companies and non-profits.
  • Leonardo Teixeira, PhD: Leo embodies the scientist to entrepreneur story of many IndieBio founders. He co-founded GeneWeave coming out of his PhD at Cornell, which was later acquired by Roche.
  • Shehnaaz Suliman, MD, MPhil, MBA: Shehnaaz brings a wealth of experience at the intersections of medicine and biopharma. She has a deep expertise in strategy and corporate development, and was also a practicing physician.
  • Tim Lu, MD, PhD: Tim is a pioneer in synthetic biology, weaving together a background in medicine, biomedical engineering, and computer science. He’s an assistant professor at MIT and serial entrepreneur, with his latest venture being Senti Biosciences.

Today we’re excited to announce our seventh class at IndieBio. Founders have converged on San Francisco for the next four months to productize their insights through a design driven process. Startups span the future of food, consumer biology, therapeutics, and diagnostics.


BioROSA enables early detection and improvements in the pediatric diagnostic process for autism by providing clinicians validated blood tests to improve diagnostic certainty.

Chronus Health

Chronus Health is building a handheld diagnostic device that reduces turnaround times at clinics from days to minutes. Their initial launch for CBC and CMP tests account for 50% of all blood tests performed.


Clinicai is building a smart toilet monitor for non-invasive early detection of gastrointestinal cancers and diseases.


Convalesce is creating stem cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, starting with Parkinson’s. With a proprietary biomaterial they create a brainlike micro-environment suited for stem cell differentiation.


Filtricine is developing a drug-free nutrient deprivation therapy to exploit metabolic dependencies to kill cancer cells.


Oralta designs tailored probiotics for oral health. Their probiotics balance communities of microbes to treat bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

New Age Meats

New Age Meats is making clean meat with an automated data-driven platform.


NovoNutrients makes food from CO2. Their microbes break down industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and reassemble them into low-cost and nutrient-rich aquaculture feed and specialty ingredients.


Ember is a distributed platform to bring emergency medicine out of the hospital. By connecting patients in need to health professionals in the community, they speed up response times and improve outcomes.


Quartolio is a knowledge management platform that accelerates research by connecting the dots across scientific articles, clinical trials, and patents with the power of NLP.

Serenity Bioworks

Serenity Bioworks is developing an immune tolerance platform for biologics. Their first product will unlock redosable gene therapy for Hemophilia.


Stämm is reinventing the infrastructure of bio-manufacturing with a new approach to fermentation. Their miniaturized bioreactors accelerate condition optimization, lower cost, and allow for modular scaling.

Check out our events for opportunities to meet the founders and learn about the future of biotech, and mark your calendar for Demo Day on November 6th!

About IndieBio

IndieBio is the world’s leading life sciences accelerator, having funded 94 biotech startups since starting in March 2015. Companies from all over the world apply to be part of a 4 month acceleration program which includes $250,000 funding, dedicated mentorship, and 24/7 access to a co-working space and bio-safety level 1 & 2 labs. During the program, teams are focused on turning science into product, closing customers, and raising follow-on investment.

Apply here to be in our next class!

Introducing IndieBio Class Six

Today we’re extremely excited to announce the fourteen startups joining IndieBio Class Six in downtown San Francisco.

At IndieBio, we are on a mission to solve the world’s biggest and toughest problems by using biology as a technology. We are giving scientists the resources they need to drive innovations across food, biopharma and healthcare, agtech, regenerative medicine, neurotech, biomaterials and beyond.

When we first introduced the first class in 2015, we made a bet that scientists are more creative, driven and entrepreneurial than most VCs give them credit for. IndieBio was built on the belief that with the right environment and structure, scientists can make the shift to entrepreneur and build transformational companies. Three years later, we are amazed at the results: we’ve had the privilege of working with 81 of of the most exciting founders in the world and playing a role in their growth – including Memphis Meats (cultured meat), Koniku (biological neurochips), SyntheX Therapeutics (targeted therapeutics), Catalog (biological data archiving), Ava Winery (engineered wine) and Qidni Labs (implantable artificial kidneys). We are proud to have created a repeatable design-driven process to enable scientists productize their discovery.

Class Six is comprised of therapeutics, cell therapies, food & agriculture and diagnostics for cancer and neurological disease hailing from all over the world. More than ever, the IndieBio teams are on the cutting edge of science and solving massive problems in the world today.

Check out our events and make sure to RSVP for Demo Day, which is happening on April 17th at the Herbst Theatre.

Antibiotic Adjuvant

Delivering AI-powered decision support software designed to monitor and reduce antibiotic resistance.


Developing smart and strong bees for crop pollination. With their technologies, farmers can increase crop yields up to 90%, target specific crops for pollination, and substantially reduce bee population decline.

Dahlia Biosciences

Leading the next generation of multiplexed in situ single-cell RNA analysis tools for research and diagnostic applications.

Jointech Labs

Pioneering access to high quality fat grafts, fat-derived stem cells and cell therapies. Their device enables doctors, clinics and hospitals to provide safe and cost-effective non-surgical treatments for patients.


Creating ‘wood’ without the tree. Their formable, natural fiber and resin replicates the performance, look, feel and re-usability of premium wood from scalable, carbon negative materials.


MezoMax enables faster bone fracture healing, improved osteoporosis treatment, and stronger bones in elderly patients with their novel calcium gluconate stereoisomer, which regulates calcium and mineral metabolism.


Developing long acting non-opioid chronic pain medications. Its novel delivery system eliminates addiction potential and side effects that are seen across all opioids.

Nivien Therapeutics

Nivien Therapeutics is developing the first small molecule drugs to enhance both chemo and immunotherapies. Their compounds overcome multiple resistance mechanisms across 15 cancers to increase efficacy and decrease toxicity of treatments.


Nuro enables instant communication and computing for millions of incapacitated patients in ​post-surgeries and ICUs, ​nursing homes and rehabilitation​​ by using brain signals.

Onconetics Pharmaceuticals

Onconetics Pharmaceuticals develops gene therapies which target tumor cells with specific gene expression profiles. The effector arm of the therapy involves a genetic switch which activates an apoptotic inducer to kill the cancer cell and spares healthy tissue.


sRNAlytics has developed a novel bioinformatics platform to identify error-free, small RNA biomarkers. Their Proof-of-Concept work in Huntington’s Disease validated eight biomarkers that are 100% accurate for classifying early vs. late stage disease, and disease progression.

Sun Genomics

Sun Genomics is a microbiome health company focused on curing dysbiosis through personalized probiotics. Their platform enables the highest resolution profiling of customer gut makeup, empowering them to make and track changes over time.

Terramino Foods

Terramino Foods is reimagining seafood, using fungi and algae to make healthy, affordable, and toxin-free products.


Vetherapy creates novel stem cell therapies for cats, dogs, and horses.  Their most innovative product speeds up wound healing and treats autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Announcing IndieBio Summer 2017 Class!

IndieBio is incredibly excited to announce our fifth class of life science companies. Founders have come to San Francisco from all over the world, including Chile, South Africa, Canada, and across the USA.

These teams are tackling problems in a host of industries such as gene therapy, regenerative medicine, the future of food, and Health IT.


BioAesthetics is regenerating the nipple-areolar complex for the 200,000+ women whom undergo mastectomies every year.


DNALite Therapeutics is developing gene therapy treatments for the gastrointestinal tract. The first lead candidate is for colon cancer, which is the second deadliest cancer in the U.S.

Finless Foods

Finless Foods is producing real fish meat in vitro to feed 8B+ people in 2020. Their fish is free from the mercury, plastic, and hormones that come with all aquaculture and factory fish.

Health Linkages

Health Linkages is the Data Provenance Company. Health Linkages uses a combination of blockchain and big data to enable healthcare and life science institutions to trust, protect and share their data.


QuantumCyte is enabling a deeper understanding of the immune system and cancer biology by enabling next-gen single cell analysis. Their technology has unprecedented ability to analyze large numbers of cells at industry leading resolution.


Pheronym is creating an all natural highly effective insect control for agriculture. By leveraging pheromone spray they double nematode’s effectiveness as an organic insecticide to rival chemicals, without any of the negative health or environmental impact.

Prellis Biologics

Prellis is creating living tissues and organs for pharmaceutical testing and organ transplant. Prellis instantaneously prints high resolution tissue scaffolds that grow into functioning human organs.

Proteorex Therapeutics

Proteorex is discovering small-molecule drugs to treat diseases with the greatest unmet medical need. Their platform can rapidly and cost-effectively unlock previously undruggable targets and has produced multiple partnered compounds.

Stelvio Oncology

Stelvio is focused on delivering precision medicine diagnostics and novel therapeutics for glioblastoma. The resistance of high-grade glioma to conventional cytotoxic drugs has prompted our development of a novel approach to therapy, including differentiating glioma stem cells to less tumorigenic cell fates.


Sugarlogix is creating sugars with functional benefits for healthier foods. Their functional sugars enhance the immune system, promote gut health, and reduce inflammation without compromising taste.


NotCo is combining AI with food-science to craft cutting-edge plant-based foods that deliver unprecedented experiences: Greek Yogurt, Milk, Cheese, Mayo all tasting like the real thing (and even better).

UBA Biologix

UBA cleans industrial wastewater from coal, gold, and platinum mines with an organic bioremediation system. Their first system is operating on a large coal mine in South Africa.

About IndieBio

IndieBio is the world’s largest life sciences accelerator, having funded 67 biotech startups since starting in March 2015. Companies from all over the world apply to be part of a 4 month acceleration program which includes $250,000 funding, dedicated mentorship, and 24/7 access to a co-working space and bio-safety level 1 & 2 labs. During the program, teams are focused on turning science into product, closing customers, and raising follow-on investment.

With a focus on biology as a technology, IndieBio companies solve problems in a huge range of industries such as the future of food, biopharma and healthcare, agtech, regenerative medicine, neurotech, biomaterials, and more. Notable alum include Memphis Meats, Koniku, SyntheX Therapeutics, Catalog, Ava Winery, and Qidni Labs.

Apply here to be in our next class!

Announcing IndieBio’s 4th Class!

IndieBio's 4th Class
IndieBio's 4th Class

IndieBio is excited to announce our newest class of thirteen biotech startups. These companies are bringing innovation to a host of industries, from classical biotech spaces like drug development and medical devices all the way to veterinary, information storage, and utilities markets.

While these companies will be based in downtown San Francisco for the next four months, all their technologies will have global impact.


A2A Pharmaceuticals designs computationally pre-optimized small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.

Animal Microbiome

Animal Microbiome helps the monitoring and treatment of chronic health conditions in animals by providing a novel microbiome testing service.


BioInspira has developed a virus-based sensor network which will enable detection of airborne chemicals remotely and in real time, creating the next generation of infrastructure for industry.


Catalog is harnessing DNA to store the world’s information.


DxRx is a scalable digital health medical practice treating early stage alcohol addiction through telemedicine and behavior modification.

GEA Enzymes

GEA Enzymes creates designer proteins by finding and manipulating specific enzyme activity. They make enzymes for the food industry that reduce saturated fat levels while maintaining consistent aroma, taste, and feel.

Mendel Health

Mendel Health automates matching cancer patients to clinical trials through personal medical history and genetic analysis.


NeuroQore is commercializing an innovative new repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) therapy system for treatment of depression and a range of other psychiatric and neurological disorders. rTMS is an emerging therapeutic brain stimulation technique that does not require anesthesia.

Pure Cultures

Pure Cultures develops and manufactures novel prebiotics and probiotics to support the health of animals and reduce antibiotics in our food chain.

Ravata Solutions

Ravata Solutions is transforming transgenic model development through automation with an aim of increasing pre-clinical medical discovery and innovation by 10–100x.

Scaled Biolabs

Scaled Biolabs is accelerating biologic, gene, and cell therapies using smart microfluidic chips. Thousands of cell experiments can be parallelized and automated on their lab-on-a-chip system, increasing throughput, precision, economy, and insight that can lead to dramatic innovations in organogenesis, fermentation condition optimization and therapeutic production.


Venomyx is bringing antivenom into the 21st century with the world’s first toxin-specific snake antivenom. Their solution will make antivenom treatment safe, effective, and affordable for the millions of snakebite victims per year around the world that are currently underserved.


ViaeX creates biological nanofiltration systems for water and air which are 400% more efficient than current solutions and enable selective pollutant and bacteria targeting. These systems are biodegradable, low cost, and rapidly scalable to enable fast deployment in cities around the world facing serious pollution issues.

IndieBio’s 15 Latest Biotech Startups

IndieBio’s 15 Latest Biotech Startups
IndieBio’s 15 Latest Biotech Startups

Today, we stand on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution which fuses the physical, digital and biological spheres of technology that will fundamentally alter the way we all treat our health, eat sustainable and live better. This revolution which is being built by hundreds of startups around the world will have a biological base.

IndieBio is pleased to announce the latest 15 IndieBio companies based here in San Francisco. Based in SF, they all have a global vision, hailing from all corners of the globe to change humanity through a blend of technology and biology. In alphabetic order:

Amaryllis Nucleics

Amaryllis empowers researchers by accelerating important discoveries in genomics. Our technology halves the time and reduces the cost of RNA sequencing by 8-fold to empower the cutting edge cancer diagnostics, pharmaceutical development, and food security innovations.


Natural and petroleum free products are the fastest growing category in cosmetics, worth over $23B globally. Ardra is engineering technologies to produce completely petroleum-free, high purity, and sustainable biochemicals for the cosmetics market, as well as for pharmaceuticals and foods.


Food poisoning is a serious global concern today with over 1 in 6 people getting food poisoning resulting in over 128,000 hospitalizations in just the US every year. AstRoNA Biotechnologies is engineering a simple to use detector that can be deployed on-site at every phase of food production from field to table. Our technology can screen all food types in under an hour versus today’s 48 hour standard food safety process.


BioNascent is determined to close the gap between the health outcomes of breastfed and formula fed infants. To do so, we manufacture the world’s first humanized infant formula aimed at delivering a perfect balance of essential amino acids and carbohydrates.

Endura Bio

Twenty five percent of the world’s arable land is currently unusable due salt groundwater contamination and more arid environments. Endura Bio is engineering salt and drought tolerant plants to be more salt and drought tolerant to increase yields from marginal lands globally, unlocking the potential to feed the world.

Genome Surveillance

DNA sequencing is driving the new genomic revolution but it’s currently bottlenecked with high compute costs and inaccuracies. Genome Surveillance is revolutionizing DNA sequencing to make it ten times faster and more accurate through reducing the heavy computational load and dropping it to a fraction of the cost of current technologies.


Today we only understand what ~0.5% of the genetic variants in patient genomes mean and it impedes our ability to diagnose and treat genetics diseases and risk factors. At Jungla, we have developed a software platform that can accurately model the impacts of mutations and accelerate diagnostic development by 5x by harnessing advanced statistical algorithms that were developed at the leading Stanford bioinformatics lab.


Knox Medical Diagnostics is bringing hospital level asthma management technology to families at home with the first tool to revolutionize decades old practices. Like a blood sugar monitor for diabetes, this tool provides predictive insights to parents of asthmatics that will prevent asthma attacks, enable proactive medication management, and give patients and parents peace of mind.


Zika Virus, Dengue Fever, and other global pandemics ravish countries as a result of a lack of rapidly deployable field based diagnostics. mFluidX has created a DNA diagnostic test the size of a stick of gum that can be deployed and provide results in 30 minutes. All with a self-powered disposable chip that costs 1000x less than current bulky benchtop based lab diagnostics.


MiraculeX is creating the next generation of the best tasting and healthy sweeteners in the world using plant proteins under one calorie per serving. We get rid of the sugar and terrible aftertaste of your everyday sweeteners.


MycoWorks is building a world with fewer plastics, no toxins, and zero waste by harnessing the power of Mushrooms. We grow natural alternatives to plastic foams, textiles, and leather, for use in aerospace, automobiles, apparel, and architectural interiors.


Safety testing for cosmetics today relies on inaccurate and inhumane animal testing. OneSkin is developing a human 3D skin tissue model to do toxicity tests that are more accurate, reliable, and completely animal free that can provide a deeper understanding of human skin.


Over one million people globally die of untreated kidney failure each year. In addition, dialysis technology has stagnated over the last fifty years with virtually no progress. Qidni Labs is building an implantable artificial kidney for 10% of patients with kidney disease, many of which get kidney failure. Our device is estimated to last the equivalent amount of time as a transplanted kidney without needing maintenance or cleaning.


SyntheX is expanding drug design into the ‘undruggable’ space for the treatment of cancer and rare diseases. We implement an innovative platform for the accelerated discovery of new classes of therapeutics that target the Achilles’ heel of cancer cells in a highly specific and selective manner.

Willow Cup

Willow Cup is optimizing plant-based proteins to create healthy animal-free options for premium indulgences, starting with specialty tea and coffee. We are hacking the infinite properties of plant proteins to replace traditional dairy for a more sustainable future.

Biology is Technology.

IndieBio SF, Announces First Class of 11 Biotech Startups

IndieBio's First class
IndieBio's First class

There is a major funding gap for very early stage bio-entrepreneurs. Backed by SOSventures, a $200million dollar VC fund, IndieBio is the world’s first accelerator dedicated to early stage biology startups.

We’re offering a total package of $100k, including $50k in cash, IndieBio, a dedicated biolab in San Francisco, brings together the world’s leading scientists and entrepreneurs to revolutionize the way biotech is done.  Startups receive free access for one year and a tailored program that helps scientists become experienced bio-entrepreneurs.  The 100-day program culminates in a demo day where the teams present to VCs and press the science and business of the company.

IndieBio is excited to announce its first batch in San Francisco kicking off on February 28.

Indie Bio SF: Session I—Spring 2015 (SI)


Eliminating the $750 million illegal rhino horn poaching trade by growing rhino horns made from rhino DNA and 3D printed keratin.

Enabling a thousand fold increase multipotent stem cell production over the industry standard, enabling a stable supply chain for regenerative medicine and basic research.


Creating a ten dollar real time blood diagnostics “lab on a chip” that can test for up to 50 diseases with one drop of blood, enabling field based, portable diagnostics anywhere in the world.


Enabling a 10-fold increase in yield for human bio-therapeutic antibodies used in the current $45B bio-therapeutics market.

Clara Foods

Producing ex-vivo egg whites that eliminate the current inefficient and inhumane paradigm of the egg battery farm industry, supplying the growing egg white market with a humane and less expensive alternative.


Integrating machine learning and computer vision for lab robots that will enable next generation scalable automation tools to triple the output of the $23B R&D industry.

Blue Turtle

A bioengineered probiotics therapeutics platform that enables the creation of “enzyme factories” in patients’ gut microbiome to treat diseases from protein deficiencies and result in treatments that are 100x less expensive than current therapies.


Bioengineereed textiles that eliminate the need for harvesting cotton, enabling fully customizable fabrics for the multi-billion dollar fashion and industrial textiles industries.

Arcturus Biocloud

Bringing a cloud-based science platform to education, makers, and non-scientists.

Open source bioreactors for every home, lab, and school.


Developing a first-in-class rare genomic variation database to give clear functional implications for human genome sequencing results.

About SOSventures

We are a collaborative team of engineers, designers, mentors, problem solvers, inventors, technology pioneers, entrepreneurs, and founders of global organizations. We are dedicated to our entrepreneurs and their vision of bettering the world.

For more information, please visit

About IndieBio

IndieBio is short for Independent Biology, a new way for scientists, entrepreneurs, and tinkerers to shape their own destiny and make something that matters. At IndieBio, we provide seed funding and intensive mentorship to drive this transition in only three months and launch our graduate companies into the world of biotechnology to make their fortune.

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What next?

We received an incredible number of great applications from across the world (more information to come in the next couple of weeks) but we have also just started sending out our rejection emails as well for the first application cycle and for some of you reading this, we’ll have attached a link to this post to discuss some of the reasons why your team submission might not have been successful in this application cycle.

What if you didn’t get into the first Indie.Bio class?

Rejection is part of the process of building any company, from the day your idea is born, you have to nurture it through the objections of friends, family, co-founders, potential customers and investors. For many of you this isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning of your journey and for some of you not successful in this cycle, we encourage you to apply with new ideas and projects as well as refined projects that you’d previously applied with, we’ll be opening up applications for fall 2015 in SF and Cork applications are open now for the Summer.

So what are we typically looking for in our applications?

1. Team: Strong, dedicated team with at least two full time co-founders (or at least willing to go full time upon funding).
2. Strong science: based on your own experiments, alpha/beta products or current literature, is your science likely to work?
3. Coming to San Francisco: Is your team willing to relocate to the San Francisco Bay area for the 100 day program (at least)?
4. 100 Days: Will you be able to develop a product or service within the 100 days of the program? How will you show investors during and after demo day that you’re ready for the next round of investment to scale your company?
5. Vision & Market potential: What’s the grand vision for your company? How will your technology meaningfully help humanity? Is this more than a small service or product and does your company have the potential to build a $100m-$1BLN+ biotech business in 5-10 years if you’re successful?

Some of the applications we received were VERY interesting scientifically but needed just a little more work to show that the science might actually work, in those cases we’d highly recommend joining your local biohacker space or local lab and continuing your work and applying for the next cycle.

Just remember as Carl Sagan once wrote “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

Ideating in Biotech: Request for Startups

Ideating in Biotech: Request for Startups
Ideating in Biotech: Request for Startups

With the recent announcement of the launch of Indie Bio (our new idea stage biotech accelerator launching in downtown San Francisco this Jan and in Cork in the summer) and the addition of the Berkeley Biolabs team, we thought it was time to send out a request for startups, not just any startups, idea stage biotech startups, for those who want to build biotechnology from the ground up, with access to funding, a biosafety level 2 (BSL2) molecular biology lab and world class list of scientific and business mentors.

We’ve pulled together a wishlist of SynBio and classical biotech idea areas we’d love to have application in but we aren’t limiting, as novel applications of biology are limited only by your imagination.

Our first class of 10 funded startups, starts at the end of Jan 2015 and we’d really love for any and all innovators to apply!

So who should applyAnyone, if you have an idea that you’ve been dying to develop in biotech, synthetic biology or any new or unusual form of programming life, send in a short application (it should only take you 30 mins) and please feel free to send in multiple applications for multiple ideas.

Whether you’re an undergrad, PhD student, PostDoc, Professor, Industry Professional or just a citizen scientist who’s passionate about biology, we’d love to hear from you and we’d welcome an application or multiple for your idea stage biotech startup.

So with that, let’s start with the idea gasoline (hopefully biodiesel of course!) Here are a few ideas we’d like to invite to send in an application but there are ALOT more!

Request for Startups:

Food tech

Replacing any animal or plant enzymes, protein, expensive flavorings or processes that can be made for a fraction of the cost in other cellular systems (or other plants). Think Vegan Cheese, In vitro meats and Eggs! GMO’s welcomed!


Utilizing biological processes to solve industrial challenges and production, everything from industrial enzymes through to accelerating production of raw materials and proteins (Novozymes is a good example)


Utilizing plants, fungi and bacteria to clean up environmental contamination, including water filtration, land decontamination, Carbon capture and radioactive cleanup


Use of plants, fungi or bacteria that can be used to extract metals from the environment in a non destructive and efficient manner

Biomedical applications

Diagnostics, therapeutic development platforms and therapeutics (ideally in orphan diseases)


True melding of human biology and machines, think grinders and not quantified self.


Novel biomaterials made with phage, viruses, bacteria, fungi, animal cells or plants. From wearable biomaterials to construction biomaterials


Storage and generation of biological power based systems

Biological computation

Novel computational systems built with biology, i.e. biomolecular logic is just the start


Detecting substances in the environment with bacterial sensors

Space biotech

Novel applications of biology to make life possible/easier for space travel and long term survival off world

Consumer Biotech

Any product or service, made with novel biology that can be sold direct to consumer, glowing plants, Civet Coffee and color changing flowers are only the start!

Tissue Engineering

From human tissue replacement, 3D Bioprinting to building human organs and beyond

Reproductive Biotech

Think about artificial wombs and beyond!

Neurocognitive Tech (NeuroTech)

Any technology that helps us visualize and understand the brain and its neuronal outputs and action that understanding.

Quantum Biology

The migratory Robin sees the the earth’s magnetic field through quantum biology, some enzymes work on quantum principles and chloroplasts improve sun harness efficiency through quantum effects. We’d love to fund product ideas in this space.

And remember, don’t forget to APPLY with your idea stage biotech. We are funding innovation!