Illumina has selected three startup companies for the inaugural funding cycle of the Illumina Accelerator program it launched in February focused on creating an innovation ecosystem for the genomics industry. Those firms are:

  • Encoded Genomics: a biopharmaceutical company focused on interrogating the human genome for functional elements with therapeutic properties.
  • EpiBiome: an agriculture technology company developing bacteriophage compositions to prevent and treat mastitis infections in dairy cattle.
  • Xcell Biosciences: a research tools and diagnostics company focused on commercializing its cell culture solution that it says allows researchers to easily grow primary cells—including cancer and immune cells—from patient blood.

The Illumina Accelerator will provide these startups with seed investment, business guidance, access to Illumina's sequencing systems and reagents, and lab space in the San Francisco Bay Area during the six-month funding cycle. The Accelerator is led by former svp of life science at Alexandria Real Estate Equities Amanda Cashin, Ph.D.; Dr. Cashin helped lead Alexandria Venture Investments while at Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

“The initial companies in our accelerator rose to the top of a highly competitive application process based on their potential to deliver innovative genomics apps in areas as diverse as healthcare and agriculture,” Illumina's svp and CTO Mostafa Ronaghi, Ph.D., said in a statement. “Under Amanda's leadership, Illumina, along with partners Yuri Milner and Silicon Valley Bank, is very excited to work with these entrepreneurs to help them expand the next-generation sequencing market.”

Illumina says applications for the spring 2015 funding cycle are due by February 16, 2015. To apply, go to

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