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CSIRO’s VC fund Main Sequence is backing biotech startups in a new UNSW accelerator


The University of NSW entrepreneurship program, UNSW Founders, will launch a new venture-backed accelerator for deep tech startups focused on synthetic biology and biotech with support from the CSIRO’s VC arm, Main Sequence.

SynBio 10x will run in conjunction with the RNA Institute and UNSW School of Biotechnology & Biomolecular Sciences. Main Sequence will invest $120,000 into each startup in the accelerator program, with the promise that the VC will look to provide further investment post program for high performing startups. UNSW Founders will also invest a further $20,000 into each startup in the cohort.

The SynBio program will run in two phases – as a pre-accelerator and then accelerator. 

Applications close on May 15 this year. An initial 15 teams will be shortlisted for a due diligence phase before six startups are chosen and given full-time access to labs in UNSW’s new $250 million biotechnology facility.

David Burt, head of entrepreneurship at UNSW

UNSW Director of Entrepreneurship David Burt said the SynBio industry has already demonstrated its potential to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems in food, agriculture, health, and medicine.

The CSIRO’s National Synthetic Biology Roadmap estimates the industry will be worth $27 billion annually by 2040.

Burt said SynBio 10x is aimed at helping Australia tap into this potential by giving researchers and scientists the capabilities, resources and capital to achieve it. 

“The biggest bottleneck for Australian SynBio startups is a lack  of access to the labs and scientific infrastructure that they need to do product development. Lab infrastructure is rare  and expensive and so UNSW will give six of the best Australia SynBio startups six months of free access to everything  they need to go fast,” he said.

There’s enormous potential in the SynBio space to help address worldwide challenges, but only if they can access the  necessary facilities and capital.

“This is why we launched SynBio 10x. Building on the success of our existing 10x accelerator programs, we will accelerate more great Australian startups who can create a positive impact with synthetic biology.” 

Main Sequence principal Gabrielle Munzer said engineering in biology is still largely an untapped space.

“But it has the potential to reimagine the way we create food, address climate change, find better  health outcomes, and beyond. We just need to build an ecosystem that helps accelerate startups in this space,” she said. 

“UNSW has the labs, Australia has the scientific talent, and with capital to support, we can help reap the full potential  synthetic biology affords. We’re proud to be a part of SynBio 10x.”  

The CSIRO Innovation Funds 1 and 2, managed by Main Sequence, have invested in more than 40 companies since 2017. Those companies have created more than  1,200 jobs, partnering with industry, CSIRO, and 22 Australian  universities.

You can lodge an EOI for SynBio 10x here.

Details on the accelerator program are here.





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