IndieBio kicks off with nine new synthetic biology startups

Cork-based accelerator teams early stage companies with mentors and support

Blaine Doyle of GlowDx, one of the companies taking part in IndieBio. Photograph: Tomas Tyner/UCC.

A peanut without allergens, a yogurt to help people live longer and an ocean-friendly fish-farming feed are just some of the projects being developed at a synthetic biology accelerator programme in Cork.

Nine start-ups from Austria, Canada, France, Ireland and the United States are working out of laboratory space in UCC to develop the projects as part of IndieBio.

The programme supports individuals and companies with an early stage prototype through investment, laboratory space and mentors.

"IndieBio carefully selects teams from around the world who have the potential and the capacity to create world-changing biotech solutions for problems that were previously seen as intractable," said Bill Liao, IndieBio founder and European venture partner for SOSventures.


“SOSventures created IndieBio as a way to attract into Ireland and Cork, these type of world class companies in the field of synthetic biology.”

The teams will also have the chance to work closely with industry partners.

Mr Liao said Cork was chosen as the loation for the programme for the proximity of key academic partners, with a number of life sciences firms also in the area. Ireland and Cork could become a major player in synthetic biology, he said.

“Synthetic biology is cutting edge technology and is essentially the merging of digital technology and biology. It is where biology meets automation and programming and has the capability to revolutionise and become an integral part of every major industry from medicine, energy, agriculture to manufacturing,” he said. “We have hugely talented innovators working in Cork in the current batch of Indie Bio companies and there is huge interest from investors in the potential that exists within the companies.”

Among this year’s participants in IndieBio are Ageria, which is developing foods to help you live longer; GlowDX*, which is creating a diagnostic DNA for neglected tropical diseases; PiLi, which is developing colours for manufactures from natural sources; Saphium, which is looking at developing algae that eat CO2 and release purifiable plastic granules that can be used in 3D printing; and Aranex Biotec, which is working on an allergen-free peanut.

* This article was edited on July 21st.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist