Pluton Biosciences is the first St. Louis-based biotech company to be chosen for Illumina Accelerator, a company creation engine started by San Diego-based, global DNA sequencing leader Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN).
The opportunity to build our company in San Francisco, a global center of the life sciences industry, is terrific, and to have an investment from Illumina, the world's largest sequencing company, is even better, said Pluton CEO Charlie Walch.
Pluton is a microbial testing and discovery research company dedicated to finding unique microbes to replace synthetic chemical applications in agriculture and pest control with eco-friendly natural products. Pluton uses Micromining®, its high-throughput microbial discovery platform, to identify and isolate novel bacteria, fungi, and viruses within months and not years, which dramatically improves R&D throughput for agtech companies and producers of pesticides.
Pluton’s Chief Science Officer Dr. Barry Goldman observed,Access to Illumina’s sequencing resources enables Pluton to build a vast microbiome data library – a critical component of our Micromining platform. Joining Illumina Accelerator San Francisco Bay Area as part of the 11th funding cycle is a transformational opportunity for Pluton.
During two six-month funding cycles per year, Illumina Accelerator provides the selected startups with access to seed investment, access to 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.
Three companies comprise the inaugural funding cycle of Illumina Accelerator Cambridge, UK and four companies, which includes Pluton Biosciences, will join as part of the 11th funding cycle in the San Francisco Bay Area. Due to lockdowns and travel restrictions during the current COVID-19 pandemic, Illumina Accelerator kicked off both funding cycles digitally this month, bringing all seven startup companies together for the first time.
“We are proud to partner with Pluton in the 11th funding cycle of Illumina Accelerator San Francisco Bay Area,” said Amanda Cashin, Co-founder and Global Head of Illumina Accelerator. “Pluton’s experienced team and unique approach to harness the power of next generation DNA sequencing will uncover new microbial insights for environmental and plant health.”
Illumina Accelerator has partnered with First In Ventures to provide convertible notes for the incoming startups in the U.S. and U.K. Wing Venture Capital will continue their support in providing convertible notes in the U.S., and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority will support the companies in the U.K.
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.