San Diego Business Journal

Illumina Launching ‘World’s First’ Genomics Incubator

By Brad Graves Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Illumina Inc. is launching what it bills as the world’s first genomics incubator, saying it has teamed up with technology billionaire Yuri Milner and Silicon Valley Bank to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in startups.

The San Diego maker of genome sequencing equipment said that it plans to offer aspiring genomics businesses both funding and access to lab equipment. Work would take place in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Illumina (Nasdaq: ILMN) announced the Illumina Accelerator Program on Feb. 12. It set a May 16 deadline for applicants who would begin their six-month stays in the incubator on Aug. 1. Illumina says its plans two six-month sessions per year.

Up to three aspiring companies could occupy the incubator. Illumina said that participating companies will receive $100,000 in convertible notes, $100,000 worth of sequencing reagents and sequencing instrument access, and a credit line worth $20,000.

Milner, who is offering convertible notes to prospective tenants, is a Russian-born investor and founder of Digital Sky Technologies, which made investments in Facebook, Zynga and Groupon. Milner’s more recent investments include the consumer genetics company 23andMe, according to TechCrunch’s CrunchBase website.

The accelerator’s tenants could be in businesses as diverse as agriculture, forensics, consumer genetics and diagnostics, said Mostafa Ronaghi, Illumina’s senior vice president and chief technology officer, in a news statement.

Startups would get lab space in Illumina’s planned research and development space in San Francisco’s Mission Bay district, Illumina said.

The corporation has its headquarters in the University Towne Center area of San Diego.