YC funded our first biotech company, (Ginkgo Bioworks), in 2011. Since then, we've expanded aggressively into all areas of biotech and the life sciences. Today, YC funds more seed stage biotech companies than any other investor.
Who Should Apply
A revolution is happening in life sciences that is reminiscent of what happened in software in the 90's. Now that cost and cycle time have decreased for biotech, it's possible for new startups to do groundbreaking work.
While we also fund companies that are further along, we're most comfortable funding life science projects at their earliest stage, right when they're ready to spin out of university research.
We've funded companies that cover the whole life sciences spectrum, including synthetic biology, therapeutics, digital health, diagnostics, medical devices, food technology like clean meat, platforms and tools. The examples range from creating personalized cancer treatments to sequencing the microbiome. If you are a biotech or life sciences company and you have questions for us, we'd like to talk to you.
What We Do for Life Science Companies
Every life sciences company is different, so we don't have a curriculum or a one-size-fits-all program. Instead, we work with each company individually to help solve whatever their current challenges are.
Some of the things we often help companies with include: regulatory approval and clinical trial sites, patents and IP protection, reimbursement and developing their business model, negotiating with tech transfer offices, finding initial customers, and raising money from investors. We also love to get deep into the science and help founders think through the scientific bets they are making.
Life science companies are still expensive to start (though they are getting cheaper), and one of the most important things we do is to prepare companies to raise a large round from investors. Bio companies in YC have been very successful at raising multi-million dollar rounds at the end of the program
One of the most valuable parts of YC for bio companies is the network of other bio companies we have funded. It is now a diverse network of impressive domain experts who go out of their way to help each other. There are also now a number of YC companies that provide critical services widely used by the other bio companies:
- Enzyme - FDA consulting as a service
- Science Exchange - Marketplace for scientific supplies
- Atomwise – computational drug discovery
- Cognition IP – life science patent law firm
- Quartzy - lab management
YC doesn't have its own lab space for founders. We've found that what founders want in lab space is simply too varied for one space to work for everyone. Instead, we work with the lab space providers in the San Francisco Bay Area to get preferential access and deals for YC companies. The Bay Area has some of the world's best lab space options for startups, so no matter what you need, we can help you find it.
Here are 5 of the biotech/life sciences companies we've funded:
- Gingko Bioworks – engineering new organisms
- µBiome – sequencing the microbiome
- Zenflow – medical device for PBH
- Verge Genomics – drugs for neurological diseases
- Notable Labs - personalized drug discovery for blood cancer
Here is a complete list of the biotech/life sciences companies we've funded.
"The pace of YC is insane — you are part of a network of fast-growing companies and feed off the energy. Ginkgo is on a dramatically faster pace of growth now thanks to YC. I was amazed how similar the challenges of scaling a startup are whether you are a biotech or a software company. We learned a ton. I'd do it again in a heartbeat." – Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks
"YC was essential for creating Bikanta's 'dictionary'. During YC, we defined many of the key elements of our company, from what is the core of our technology to the important business milestones to achieve to how to create a resourceful team. The YC experience was critical in shaping what started as empowering technology into what is now a productive and game-changing company." – Ambika Bumb, Bikanta
"Y Combinator changed my life. From the first day, we were inspired by helpful, caring, and brilliant peers and mentors." – Jessica Richman, µBiome