Synbio start-ups accelerate towards a bright future

This week, six participants in the axlr8r programme in Cork will pitch their products to potential investors

Launchbox participants Paul Mahoney, Paul Mannix and Patrick Lynch, co-founders of Light-house, an intelligent lighting system for the home that knows when you need the lights on. Photograph: Paul Sharp

Launchbox participants Paul Mahoney, Paul Mannix and Patrick Lynch, co-founders of Light-house, an intelligent lighting system for the home that knows when you need the lights on. Photograph: Paul Sharp

Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 01:10

Six start-ups from Europe, the US and Canada, that have been participating in the SynBio axlr8r accelerator programme in Cork, will this week unveil their wares to potential investors and venture capitalists.

SynBio axlr8r, which is backed by SOSventures, is the world’s first synthetic biology start-up accelerator programme. It began in May and has run for three months. As part of the programme, the six companies received seed funding of $30,000 each, lab space in UCC and mentorship.

The programme culminates tomorrow with the start-ups pitching their products at the Science Gallery in Dublin. Dr Coleman Casey from UCC said synthetic biology was an “extremely exciting” new area of technology which had “boundless potential”.

“Regulation is one area which will need to be carefully monitored as synthetic biology is essentially the merging of digital technology and biology,” he added.

SynBio axlr8r programme director Jacob Shiach said the future, in which synthetic biology would be as integral a part of daily life as computers now are, was closer than people might think.

“The development cycle for biotech has traditionally been a slow and arduous one. Yet, with the arrival of synthetic biology and tools such as rapid and cheap sequencing/synthesis of DNA, that no longer is the case.”

Elsewhere, eight teams of budding entrepreneurs from TCD’s business incubator programme Launchbox will also pitch their ideas to investors this week.

One team has been developing an app that will allow people to gain fashion insights from their immediate environment, while other teams were aiming to produce a growing online repository for quality teaching resources, to develop a software management system for cataloguing laboratory chemicals, and to provide an intelligent system for homes that ‘knows’ when you need the lights on.

The teams will pitch their business ideas to investors and take part in a Q&A session at TCD on Wednesday.