Helix joins forces with Illumina Accelerator to bolster genomics entrepreneurs

By Jeff Lagasse
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Personal Genomics company Helix has partnered up with Illumina Accelerator, a business accelerator focused solely on creating an innovation ecosystem for the genomics industry. As part of the collaboration, they’ll team with entrepreneurs with an eye toward innovation and the development of DNA-driven products and insights for consumers.

The partnership is all in the family: Helix originally spun out of Illumina in 2015.
 
Startups have until Sept. 1 to apply, but there’s expected to be competition: They’ll face a pool of highly qualified companies who’ll be evaluated by the Illumina Accelerator team.
 
“From an entrepreneur’s perspective, cost pressures, stringent regulatory and data security requirements, and continually evolving sequencing technologies are barriers to designing, developing, scaling up and commercializing DNA-powered products for everyday life," Helix CEO Robin Thurston said in a statement. "Through our collaboration with Illumina Accelerator, we hope to provide breakthrough startups with the resources, infrastructure and support to transform their ideas into compelling consumer applications and services that make genomics relevant and accessible to every person based on their unique interests.”
 
Last month, Helix launched the first online marketplace for DNA-powered products that offer insights on ancestry, entertainment, family, fitness, health and nutrition. Helix developed the marketplace by partnering with a wide array of companies, ranging from established healthcare institutions to app developers, to build or enhance their products and services using DNA.
 
What this means for select startups developing these DNA-centric products is that they’ll now have access to Helix’s team of experts in next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics, applied genomics, software and product development, regulatory affairs, quality assurance, consumer marketing, and business development.
 
“Illumina Accelerator is focused on driving value for genomics startups by providing access to vital resources such as capital, sequencing and genomics expertise, coaching, and local lab and office space,” said Dr. Mostafa Ronaghi, Illumina’s senior vice president and chief technology officer and co-founder of illumina accelerator, in a statement. “By working with Helix during our seventh funding cycle, select startups will have unparalleled access to Helix’s commercial market expertise and sequencing platform for their consumer applications.”
 
llumina Accelerator operates on a six-month funding cycle, during which selected startups receive business guidance, seed investment, and access to Illumina’s software, fully operational lab space in the San Francisco Bay Area, sequencing systems and reagents, and match funding through the $40 million Illumina Accelerator Boost Capital.
 
“Helix’s mission is to empower every person to improve their life through DNA, and a core component of building our diverse marketplace is to enable innovative developers to integrate DNA insights into their products and services,” said Helix co-founder and vice president Justin Kao in a statement. “We are proud to collaborate with Illumina Accelerator to stimulate innovation in personal genomics by helping selected startups harness their creativity and build best-in-class DNA-powered products for everyday use.”