Founders Fund already stands out for backing startups with radical ideas, including Counsyl, Hampton Creek, Planet Labs, and SpaceX. Now the venture firm is making a formal commitment to funding startups in aeronautics, life sciences, nanotechnology, and other geeky realms.
Founders Fund has dedicated a small percentage of its new $1 billion fund to a new initiative called FF Science, through which the firm will make seed-stage deals.
Other Silicon Valley venture-capital firms have attempted to build a rep of funding budding science startups. Atlas Venture “invests in the earliest stages of technology and life sciences innovation,” according to its home page. Google Ventures includes life science as one of five areas of focus on its website. Soffinova Ventures has a life sciences niche.
Energy is also a focus for FF Science. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has a track record in clean tech investments and also makes life-sciences deals.
But Founders Fund has formed a stable of startups in some of the industries it plans to target with FF Science. Portfolio companies Planet Labs and SpaceX are in the aeronautics business. And Founders Fund backs Azumio, Emerald Therapeutics, Natera, and Pathway Genomics, among others, in life sciences. So it’s not as if this is foreign territory for the firm.
A Founders Fund investor was not immediately available for comment.