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Pluton 1st St. Louis-Based Biotech Co. to Graduate Global Funding Cycle

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Pluton is the first St. Louis-based biotech to graduate from Illumina Accelerator’s first global funding cycle.

Pluton was among a group of seven global startups to graduate this week from Illumina Accelerator, the company creation engine started by San Diego-based, global DNA sequencing leader Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN).

During two, six-month funding cycles per year, Illumina Accelerator provides the selected startups with access to seed investment, Illumina sequencing systems and reagents, as well as business guidance, genomics expertise, and fully operational lab space adjacent to Illumina’s campuses in Cambridge, UK or the San Francisco Bay Area.

"This has been such a tremendous experience for Pluton in many ways, and we are so honored to have been selected to participate," said Pluton Biosciences CEO Charlie Walch. "From a business standpoint, the Illumina Accelerator team helped us focus our business model and refine the story behind our pitch to investors. The team also introduced us to numerous San Francisco-based venture capitalists who back genomics startups. Two are now investors in Pluton."

Founded in 2017, Pluton Biosciences taps into the diverse world of bacteria, fungi and viruses found in the soil to develop eco-friendly products for the agriculture and pest-control industries. Pluton’s Micromining® Innovation Engine allows its team of scientists and engineers to discover novel microbes in months, not years, compared to current approaches.

Participation in Illumina Accelerator boosted Pluton’s ability to cost-effectively shotgun sequence microbial populations from its soil samples.

"Through Illumina Accelerator, we had access to world-class DNA sequencing capabilities, which allowed us to advance our sequencing platform, a key component of Micromining. Our work in the Accelerator enabled Micromining for several new, exciting projects," said Pluton Biosciences Founder and Director of Research Dr. Ann Guggisberg. "Illumina technology will be a cornerstone of Pluton’s Micromining Innovation Engine, and we look forward to our continued relationship with the Illumina Accelerator team as we continue to identify novel microbial solutions."

Three companies comprised the inaugural funding cycle of Illumina Accelerator Cambridge, UK and four companies, which included Pluton Biosciences, joined as part of the 11th funding cycle in the San Francisco Bay Area. Due to COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, Illumina Accelerator celebrated the graduation digitally in February 2021, bringing all seven startup companies together.

About Illumina Accelerator

Illumina Accelerator is the world’s first business accelerator focused solely on creating an innovation ecosystem for the genomics industry. It provides select startups with access to seed investment, business guidance, Illumina’s sequencing systems and reagents, and fully operational lab space in the San Francisco Bay Area or Cambridge, U.K. during each six-month funding cycle. Since launching in 2014, Illumina Accelerator has invested in 45 genomics startups from across the globe, which have collectively raised approximately $400 million in venture capital funding.


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