The frontier of biology is being driven by technology, which happens to be the specialty of Petri, a Boston-based accelerator program that targets startups mixing biology, engineering, and technology.
Petri is offering PhDs and postdocs from leading universities and other aspiring innovators a 12-month program designed to rapidly translate their research into commercial applications.
This first-of-its-kind accelerator is focused on bringing together breakthroughs in biology, engineering, and technology to create solutions to some of the world’s most endemic and challenging problems.
In addition to a fully resourced biology lab, the highly selective program will offer early-stage startup founders flexible amounts of capital ($250,000 or greater) and access to a group of accomplished entrepreneurs and scientific luminaries, including the founders of Ginkgo Bioworks, Twist Bioscience, Exact Sciences, Insitro, Asimov, and PathAI — as well as researchers Chris Voigt, Pam Silver, and George Church.
Once accepted into the Petri accelerator, teams will also be able to tap into the research, talent, and capital found in Boston, one of the strongest biology and engineering ecosystems in the world.
“The time is now,” said Petri cofounder Tony Kulesa in an email. “We are at this perfect point in time where the advances in biology can be made exponentially greater through engineering and applications of technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. What’s been missing is a focused resource to help make that happen. That’s why we created Petri.”
Petri cofounder Brian Baynes added, “The convergence of biology with engineering and computation will impact a range of industries, from nutrition and health care to energy and materials. We look forward to supporting the next generation of founders as they turn their passions into businesses with a scalable impact on humankind.”
Petri operates on 12-month timelines to ensure its early stage founders have time to transform their fledgling ideas into funded companies.
“We work side by side with founders from the beginning and provide the runway, resources, and coaching to transform an early concept into a high-potential company,” said Kulesa.
Petri’s entrepreneurs will be mentored by the Petri cofounding advisors, a team that includes industry stars Reshma Shetty (Ginkgo Bioworks), Emily Leproust (Twist Bioscience), Stan Lapidus (Exact Sciences, Cytyc), Daphne Koller (Insitro), Alec Nielsen (Asimov), Andy Beck (PathAI), JP Mangeolle (Danaher, Sciex, Phenomenex), Bernhard van Lengerich (General Mills, Beyond Meat), and leading researchers Chris Voigt, Pam Silver, and George Church.
Baynes previously worked as an operator and VC at Flagship Pioneering, one of the most successful venture funds working in this catergory across energy, animal health, therapeutics, and synthetic biology, and Kulesa has built organizations, classes, and resources for biotech entrepreneurship at MIT.
“Our thesis is that biology permeates all aspects of the world — not just health, but the next generation of food, agriculture, chemicals, materials, etc.,” Kulesa said. “We are also building new tools and platforms in biology to drive down costs and timelines to accelerate the growth of biology within these verticals.”