This is an extended version of content that appears in the Emerging Technologies feature in the April issue of CLP.
Since last November, when FDA cleared Illumina’s MiSeqDx high-throughput sequencer for diagnostic applications, the potential of next-generation sequencing has captured the imagination of many scientists and laboratorians—and with it their engagement in developing clinical tests based on Illumina’s platforms.
In February, Illumina took further steps to stimulate the adoption of NGS systems by launching the Illumina Accelerator Program. Billed as the world’s first business accelerator focused solely on creating an innovation ecosystem for the genomics industry, the program’s goal is to speed the time to market and lower the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and early-stage companies working on scientifically and commercially promising NGS applications.
Through the accelerator’s six-month program, Illumina will provide invited participants with technology and business guidance and $100,000 in support, including access to sequencing systems and reagents, as well as fully operational lab space in close proximity to the company’s planned R&D facilities in San Francisco’s Mission Bay. Initial partners include prominent technology investor Yuri Milner, who will offer each participating company $100,000 in exchange for convertible notes, and Silicon Valley Bank, which intends to provide banking services and credit to each participating company.
“The dramatic reduction in the cost of sequencing has enabled the scientific and business communities to address an increasingly broad range of research and clinical opportunities,” said Mostafa Ronaghi, Illumina’s senior vice president and chief technology officer. “We’ve only begun to scratch the surface, however, and we’re excited to foster the next generation of genomics innovators working in areas as diverse as agriculture, forensics, consumer genetics, and diagnostics. The Illumina Accelerator Program will make it easier for them to validate and create NGS applications and bring these solutions to market.
Through a competitive process, the Illumina Accelerator Program will select up to three companies to participate in each six-month session per year. Applications are due May 16, 2014, for the inaugural session that begins August 1, 2014. To apply, visit www.illumina.com/accelerator.