Mar 20, 2020
By Westley Dang
IndieBio Coronavirus Initiative

We are seeking up to 8 startups to receive a minimum of $250,000 each to pursue the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, disinfection, and other solutions addressing the worldwide problem of emerging infectious diseases.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to contribute to solving the remarkable scale of challenges that Covid-19 presents to our planet. Scientists need funding and they need it immediately in order to work at the pace that the coronavirus is moving. The time to accelerate and mobilize all scientific discovery has arrived. We are excited to work together in finding solutions. 

“There’s a long war ahead and our Covid-19 response must adapt” ~Dr. Tom Frieden, Former CDC Director

IndieBio’s current portfolio of companies, backed by SOSV,  has been built with the anticipation of a future that requires massive systemic change impacting every area of human and planetary health.  We have already made investments in companies like CASPR Biotech, who is working on molecular diagnostics for Covid-19. To read about more of IndieBio’s companies working on Covid-19, scroll down to the bottom of the page. To learn about all of SOSV’s Covid-19 startups visit

Members of Caspr Biotech headed to the frontlines.

IndieBio seeks to work with companies that can detect, treat, and prevent COVID-19:

Companies who focus on detection may include those that: 

  • Improve diagnostic capabilities in speed, cost, or scaling.
  • Predict negative post-infection sequelae for COVID-19 patients.
  • Enhance serological testing kits.

Companies who focus on treatment may include those that:

  • Mitigate patient inflammatory reactions (cytokine storms).
  • Regenerate lung function or address other long-term health consequences.
  • Formulate therapeutics for tough-to-penetrate organs like the liver and nervous system.

Companies who focus on prevention may include those that:

  • Develop novel vaccine platforms or formulations.
  • Sterilize contaminated buildings, waters, or foods.
  • Block disease transmission from animal reservoirs or vectors.

Apply your scientific expertise to eliminate the serious challenge of COVID-19:

  • Application is on a rolling admissions basis 
  • Apply at

About IndieBio: IndieBio enables scientists to become entrepreneurs and build breakthrough companies to solve the world’s biggest challenges through biology as a technology.  IndieBio drives innovation to improve human and planetary health. To date, 116 biotech companies have been through the program, creating a combined valuation of over $2.4 billion. IndieBio is a division of SOSV.

Over a dozen IndieBio startups are already on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. A sample of these includes: 

  • Renegade Bio: Improved Diagnostics. Renegade Bio is testing SF Bay Area’s first responders with a “we come to you” service. Renegade invented an improvement on the CDC testing method, turning four reactions into a single-step reaction and eliminating the RNA extraction requirement. The result is a testing process that is 70% cheaper, taking half the time, for a net 4x increase in throughput. They partnered with Bay Area Phlebotomy & Laboratory Services to open testing for the public with an on-demand, Uber-like service. They are starting testing of all SF Bay Area first responders and police forces, running 1300 tests every three days.
  • Prellis Biologics: Faster Antibodies. Prellis Biologics is 32 days from anti-SARS-CoV-2 human antibodies using bioprinted, human mini lymph nodes. In 2017, Prellis Biologics printed human mini lymph nodes, which they injected with Zika virus. The mini lymph nodes produced human antibodies for passive immunity against Zika. Now, Prellis is doing the same for the coronavirus. In one week, they will be growing immune cells, in two weeks growing lymph nodes, and in a month screening the antibodies. In six weeks the antibodies will be sequenced for scale-up and trials, which could begin in as soon as 10 weeks. This is a much faster turnaround time for antibodies and even if other approaches yield antibodies first, Prellis’ approach is a more rapid way to generate antibodies as the virus mutates.
  • Amaryllis Nucleics: Sequencing for Diagnostics and Epidemiology. Amaryllis Nucleics is developing a universal viral RNA detection kit to detect COVID, Influenza, and other viral infections in the same test, while detecting and tracking mutations as they arise. Using established next-gen sequencing technology and optimizing their RNA sequencing kits for COVID, they can enable thousands of samples to be run per machine each day.
  • Diadem Biotherapeutics: Lung Immune Modulators. Diadem is engineering exosomes to be inhalable cell-specific immune modulators. Exosomes are small, virus-sized particles released by cells to communicate throughout the body. Diadem plans to develop a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine by engineering exosomes with surface bound SARS-CoV-2 proteins and immune-stimulating ligands, effectively turning them into non-replicative virus-like particles (VLP). To increase immune response and memory for the SARS-CoV-2 antigen, the VLPs can be engineered with immune stimulating ligands (e.g. 4-1BB). 
  • mFluidX: Diagnostic Accessibility. mFluiDx is developing a low-cost microfluidic diagnostic to detect COVID-19 in under 15 minutes in decentralized settings. Their chip is as simple and cheap as paper tests, yet has DNA/RNA level sensitivity able to diagnose onsite. 

Learn more details about all IndieBio and other SOSV-backed startups here.

Header image credit: Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash