Top 15 biotech incubators and accelerators in the US

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Dr. Vikas Bishnoi, freelance scientist at Kolabtree, provides an overview of the top 15 biotech incubators and accelerators in the US, that help launch and scale startups. 

In 2020, the biotechnology sector got record venture capital funding and hit an all-time high. According to introductory data from Pitchbook, over $26B of venture funding went into US-based biotech firms in 2020. It is far ahead of the prior high that was $19B in 2018. This indicates that US-based private biotech firms were raising $500M per week in 2020.

Incubators and accelerators both are different entities and perform a distinct character in the biotechnology ecosystem. A biotechnology startup grows in an incubator where well-equipped research labs and other facilities are provided and mature in an accelerator where mentorship, networking and venture capital convert it into a product. Entrepreneurs approach an accelerator or incubator program for upfront venture or seed funding as well as guidance in the form of project management, business development and market readiness.

To encourage biotechnologists who have a brilliant idea and are looking for incubator and accelerator support to convert the idea into reality, here are the top 15 biotech incubators and accelerators in the USA.

 List of Top 15 Biotech Incubators and Accelerators in the USA

  1. JLABS– Johnson & Johnson Innovation
  2. Startup Health 
  3. QB3
  4. Y combinator
  5. Lab Central
  6. Illumina Accelerator
  7. StartX
  8. California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr)
  9. Molecular Medicine Research Institute (MMRI)
  10. Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center
  11. Portland State University Business Accelerator
  12. Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator – University of Florida
  13. IndieBio Incubator
  14. MBC Biolabs
  15. UCSF Rosenman Institute

1. JLABS– Johnson & Johnson Innovation

JLABS, a Johnson& Johnson initiative, is a worldwide network of open innovation ecosystems. JLABS support and empower innovators across a broad life-sciences and healthcare range to produce and accelerate the delivery of life-saving health and wellness solutions to people around the world. JLABS provide the ideal environment for developing companies and startups to catalyze growth and enhance their research and development by introducing them to dynamic industry connections, providing entrepreneurial programs and giving them a capital-efficient, flexible stage where they can convert today’s scientific discoveries into tomorrow’s breakthrough healthcare solutions.

JLABS portfolio enterprises finished the year with more than $17B in funding and strategic associations (secured and contingent) and they are carrying the total to $43B since JLABS founded. In line with biotech IPOs hitting an all-time high in 2020, nine JLABS companies IPO’d, including 4D Molecular Therapeutics, Kymera Therapeutics and Nkarta Therapeutics.

JLABS delivered a joint initiative BLUE KNIGHT™ with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in 2019.

2.  Startup Health

StartUp Health was announced at the Health Data Initiative Forum of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. StartUp Health is an initiative in the field of startup incubation and acceleration to motivate, educate and guide entrepreneurs in the biotech and healthcare sector. They also provide resources such as wet-lab space and access to funding to shape sustainable health and wellness companies. StartUp Health aims to eliminate the “Health Gap” between startups, private investors and funding agencies, corporations, universities, foundations, and other shareholders dedicated to fast-tracking meaningful innovation. 

StartUp Health has an exceptional model to support entrepreneurs at any stage of growth ranging from a fast-scaling company to two doctorpreneurs who are just getting started or undergoing tech transfer. Startup Health invests in Health Transformers from any region (portfolio spans 26 countries and six continents) and across different health categories.

3. QB3

The institution was initiated as an academic endeavour, with operations at the University of California campuses at Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz. Since 2000, QB3 has enabled major findings and innovation in different Biotechnology sectors including genome editing, genomics data sharing, and proteomics.

QB3 is the University of California’s centre for innovation and entrepreneurship in life science. QB3 is a research organization combined with the fundamentals of a startup accelerator. QB3 benefits bio-entrepreneurs by creating high-value jobs and brings more than $750 million each year with five of its incubators, an affiliated venture capital firm, and a special initiative in health technology. QB3 only focuses on life sciences, specifically, quantitative biosciences.

  • Founded in: 2000 
  • Founder/CEO: Regis Kelly, PhD, OBE (Executive Director & Byers Family Distinguished Professor)
  • Companies: 350+ companies (Naked Biome, Phyla)

4. Y combinator

Previously, Y Combinator was not included in Biotech incubators and startups but in recent years, the organization has done a fantastic job in the field of Biotechnology and Life-sciences. Y combinator has displayed an extraordinary aptitude for biotech and been an important performer in the turf. Being the oldest accelerator in the US, Y Combinator offers a range of aids to life science companies. Y Combinator’s started working in the life science industry in 2014 when it supported its first biotech company, Ginkgo Bioworks, an MIT associated synthetic biology company that engineers microbes for commercial purposes. Y Combinator has since extended into all areas of the life sciences and now holds 340+ companies in its portfolio. Mentorship is one of the utmost valuable advantages of an accelerator program and this is the plus of Y-combinator. Being the oldest player in the arena, they have specialists of different fields who help startups to become a market leader in the field of biotechnology.

5. Lab Central

LabCentral is Massachusetts based non-profit company which was founded in 2013 as a launchpad for highly prospective life sciences and biotech start-ups. It has over 100,000 sq. feet of operational area in Cambridge University and on the Harvard University campus. LabCentral has a set-up of fully permitted and fully equipped laboratory and office spaces for as many as 100 start-ups including around 500 scientists and entrepreneurs. Moreover, LabCentral is building a more supportable and comprehensive biotech system that supports development, workforce training and next-generation entrepreneurship through its LabCentral Ignite initiative. LabCentral offers world-class facility and organizational support, a skilled and qualified laboratory operations team, and domain-specific events and programming as well as the other crucial facilities and support that early-stage startups need to push-start laboratory operations.

6. Illumina Accelerator

Illumina’s mission is to concentrate on revealing the supremacy of the genome. To help accomplish this goal, Illumina Accelerator is associating with startups to fast-track innovation in the entrepreneurial community. Illumina Accelerator is constructing a vibrant genomics ecosystem to help startups launching in the San Francisco Bay Area with its broad mentorship, financial support, and access to sequencing systems, chemicals, and world-class fully-equipped lab space. Illumina Accelerator is offering up to $100,000 in seed funding and takes 8% equity to a handpicked pool of enterprises applying the common tool of genomic sequencing to a range of applications. Illumina has a total of 97,000 square-foot R&D facilities at the Mission Bay campus.

7. StartX

StartX is a non-profit startup accelerator and founder’s group allied with Stanford University. StartX was founded by Cameron Teitelman in 2011. The StartX accelerator separates itself from other accelerators because it is an educational non-profit organization that takes no equity in the companies which are nurtured under the organization.

StartX is a non-profit community of successive entrepreneurs, industry specialists, eminent Stanford professors, and well-funded growth-stage startups. StartX considers that entrepreneurs can achieve more when they work as a group instead of as individuals. StartX supports companies to hire exclusive talent, secure funding, and step into the Stanford University Alumni Network, which is one of the most influential and pioneering networks in the world.

To date, Stanford University and Stanford Health Care have invested a collective $200M to safeguard the StartX community and the StartX organization will be autonomous in perpetuity.

See also: Top 10 biotech incubators for biotech startups in Europe 

8. California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr)

Calibr is a non-profit biomedical research institute, a division of Scripps Research and situated in the middle of San Diego’s Torrey Pines Mesa biomedical research hub. Calibr’s has an 80,000 square foot research space that includes houses over 130 multidisciplinary research scientists and skilled technical staff with a world-class instrumentation facility. Institute also has collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) backing a combined drug discovery platform devoted to treat and diagnose diseases that have a major effect in developing countries.

  • Founded in: 2012
  • Founder/CEO: Peter Schultz, PhD Chief Executive Officer
  • Companies: No companies listed online.

9. Molecular Medicine Research Institute (MMRI)

MMRI is a sovereign, non-profit medical research institute located in Silicon Valley; CA. MMRI has 31,000 square feet of space that includes well-equipped laboratories, modern offices, a world-class library, conference rooms, common areas, and a kitchen. The Institute has all the up-to-date facilities that are proficient in supporting their efforts in molecular biology, immunology, cell biology, synthetic organic chemistry and is supported by a complete analytical chemistry laboratory.

  • Founded in: 1995
  • Founder/CEO: Edward P. Amento, Founder and Executive Director
  • Companies: 85

10. Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center

The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC) is a non-profit life science incubator facility that works for the building of a global biotechnology centre, to the elevation of local commercial development and creation of jobs, as well as for the education and training of tomorrow’s researchers. The Institute was developed in 2006 by the Hepatitis B Foundation in cooperation with Delaware Valley University; the PABC transformed the local economy into a world-class biotechnology incubation and acceleration centre. Now PABC is home to more than 40 startup companies.

11. Portland State University Business Accelerator

The PSU Business Accelerator is an organization of innovative entrepreneurs in Oregon. The institute has 36,000 square feet of total area, including a 2,600-square-foot bioscience lab. PSU is the abode to future-ready technologies and bioscience startups which come from all main Oregon research universities. The Accelerator provides office space and fully-loaded lab facilities are a plus for fast-growing startup needs.  The dedicated and skilled staff of the accelerator appeals to the region’s top science and technology startups. The startups are also leveraging the affordable co-working space, access to the conference room, monthly Business tycoons meetings and topic-related Lunch & Learns, fundraising and business management.

12. Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator – University of Florida

Sid Martin Biotech was earlier known as Sid Martin Biotechnology Development Institute. The incubator has approximately 40,000 square feet of area and is funded by the University of Florida and the United States Department of Agriculture and the Florida Legislature. This well-equipped, brilliantly engineered facility was inaugurated in 1995 as one of the first bio-business incubators in the United States.

The mission of the program is to nurture the growth of startup companies that work in the field of Biosciences and related to the University of Florida. The incubator deals in all areas of Biosciences such as life sciences, biomedical research, medicine and chemical science.

Institute help startups to move their discoveries and creation to the marketplace more swiftly and reasonably by facilitating them with research lab space, introducing them to the investors and experienced leadership, providing networking opportunities, seminars and much more.

  • Founded in: 1995
  • Founder/CEO: MARK S. LONG Director, Incubation Services.
  • Companies- 13 (resident) + 23 (alumni)

13. IndieBio Incubator

IndieBio is a biotech incubator and accelerator located in San Francisco. IndieBio organizes a four-month accelerator program each year in which two cohorts of fifteen early-stage biotech companies participate. The selected teams receive a seed funding of $250,000 and facilitated with fully-equipped research labs, co-working space, and committed mentorship. They also become part of the broad community of IndieBio alumni, Investors, Biotechnology entrepreneurs, industrialists, and more. In return, IndieBio takes a 12% equity stake from the founders. The motto of the four-month program is to support founders to bring their idea from the bench to creation in four months. To achieve the goal, mentorship is provided by IndieBio’s scientific staff to the first-time founders with project management and scientific supervision to help meet milestones during the program. A diverse set of companies in IndieBio’s portfolio make it more successful in the field of biotech incubation and acceleration.

14. MBC Biolabs

Doug Crawford converted a utility room into a QB3 garage at the Mission Bay Campus of the University of California in 2006. It was the first incubator related to the technology and Biosciences in the UC. From the first six startups, four of them had raised Series A venture funding, as well as the fifth startup, which was picked up for $25 million within the first two years. MBC provides easy access to well-equipped research laboratories and the companionship of being around with other entrepreneurs to the newly budding entrepreneurs. With initial success, Doug seizes the opportunity with alacrity and leases a warehouse in San Francisco in 2013 and completely transforms it into a world-class incubation facility. It results in a full-service incubator that offers a world-class research laboratory with millions of dollars worth of equipment, office space, meeting halls, and an in-house Contract Research Organization facility with skilled manpower. MBC Biolabs now has over 50 tenant companies, a broad list of successful alumni companies in their portfolio. MBC is the leading biotech incubator in the US with the opening of a second location in San Carlos.

15. UCSF Rosenman Institute

The UCSF Rosenman Institute is a non-profit, health and biotechnology initiative at the University of California, San Francisco. Their mission is to enterprise innovation by assisting entrepreneurs to grow technologies from idea to commercialization. It is a group of financiers, investigators, clinicians, and know-how entrepreneurs who make solutions for critical medical requirements. The best part of this accelerator is, there is no need for UC affiliation to take support from the UCSF Rosenman Institute. In the beginning, early-stage entrepreneurs were mentored by the friends of Dan Rosenman. The Department of Bioengineering, Surgery, friends of Rosenman and QB3 are the founding partners of the UCSF Rosenman Institute.

 


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About Author

Dr Vikas Bishnoi is a Biotechnologist, eternal academician, with an interest in all fields which includes the Greek word ‘BIOS’. He worked in Higher education as an Associate Professor as well as in an MNC as a Subject Matter Expert and now giving services as a scientific consultant and writer.

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