At Illumina, we’re committed to unlocking the power of the genome, and we know we can’t do it alone. Illumina for Startups is our way of accelerating innovation in the entrepreneurial community by partnering with leading venture capital investors and entrepreneurs to create, launch and grow genomics startups. Illumina for Startups initiatives include Illumina Accelerator, founded in 2014, and Sequoia Capital China Intelligent Healthcare Genomics Incubator, Powered by Illumina, launching Fall 2021. Together, we'll advance breakthrough applications in genomics, including therapeutics, diagnostics, agriculture, synthetic biology, software and direct-to-consumer applications.
Illumina Accelerator is a company creation engine co-located with Illumina research and development sites in San Francisco Bay Area and Cambridge, UK. Illumina Accelerator provides select startups with access to seed investment, business guidance, Illumina’s sequencing systems and reagent and fully operational lab space in the San Francisco Bay Area or Cambridge, UK during each six-month funding cycle.
Drive value for your genomics startup. Apply to Illumina Accelerator’s next funding cycle today!
Illumina Accelerator is the world’s first business accelerator focused solely on creating an innovation ecosystem for the genomics industry. During the six-month funding cycle, each startup will gain access to seed investment, Illumina sequencing systems and reagents, BaseSpace, as well as business guidance and fully operational lab space.
During the six-month funding cycle, Illumina Accelerator offers genomics-driven startups four key resources - capital and access to capital, sequencing and genomics expertise, coaching, and lab and office space in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Cambridge, UK.
We help create early stage, genomics-driven startups from across the globe to drive new commercial innovations and unlock the power of the genome.
Our investments are advancing breakthrough applications in genomics, including novel therapeutics, diagnostics, agriculture, synthetic biology, software, and direct-to-consumer applications.
Alex Aravanis MD PhD joined Illumina in June 2020. As Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, he is responsible for leading Illumina’s research and technology development functions and the innovation engine for next-generation sequencing platforms and applications, accelerating technology breakthroughs and translation to the clinic. This includes Illumina Accelerator, the world’s first business accelerator focused solely on creating an innovation ecosystem for the genomics industry.
Aravanis is an experienced entrepreneur and was involved in founding several start-ups in the life sciences and health care. Most recently, he co-founded GRAIL Bio where he served as Chief Scientific Officer and Head of R&D. At GRAIL, Aravanis led the research, development, operational, and clinical teams developing its multi-cancer early detection test. This test is based on technology which combines high-intensity sequencing of unprecedented breadth and depth with the techniques of modern data science. Through what is believed to be one of the largest clinical study programs ever pursued in genomic medicine, GRAIL is creating vast data sets to develop evidence supporting its products. It is deploying, at scale, the latest tools of data science, including powerful approaches from machine learning such as neural networks.
Prior to GRAIL, Aravanis served as Senior Director of R&D for Illumina, Inc., where he developed multiple technologies, including clinical assays for the analysis of RNA and DNA from fixed tissues, whole exome analysis, massively parallel single cell transcriptomics, and liquid biopsy using cell-free nucleic acids.
Alex earned BS in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics Minor from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering, and an MD from Stanford University. He holds more than 30 (pending and issued) patents and numerous peer-reviewed publications.
Amanda Cashin, Ph.D. is Co-Founder and Global Head of Illumina Accelerator, a leading company creation engine and investment vehicle focused on building genomics-driven startups. Founded in Fall 2014 in San Francisco, Illumina Accelerator is investing in emerging startups, advancing breakthrough applications in genomics, including applications in therapeutics, women’s health, cancer diagnostics, consumer nutrition, agriculture, synthetic biology, and skin microbiome.
Previously, Amanda was Senior Vice President of Alexandria Venture Investments/Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. In her role, she helped lead Alexandria Venture Investments, which has over $250 million in capital deployed and committed to breakthrough life science and technology companies and leading venture capital funds. Amanda also led a team of life science professionals with strong science and business expertise responsible for industry research, company analysis, business development, and thought leadership limitations to help position Alexandria at the forefront of the industry.
She earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from the California Institute of Technology and graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in Physical Organic Chemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her scientific expertise and peer-reviewed publications are in the fields of biochemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, pharmacology, electrophysiology, and neuroscience.
Anya joined Illumina in January 2020 to lead Illumina Accelerator Cambridge in UK. She has experience as an Entrepreneur, venture capital Investor and as a Banker.
She was previously the founder and CEO of Syrona, a digital health start-up that develops low-cost, non-invasive screening kits for women’s health issues pioneering combination of digital and biological markers. She worked at Goldman Sachs and in life science venture capital at IP Group prior to founding her own company.
She earned a MPhil with a focus in Bioscience from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England and currently completing her Executive MBA from Said business school at Oxford University having been conferred the prestigious 30% club scholarship.
Bobby joined Illumina Accelerator to support the set-up and ongoing success of Illumina Accelerator Cambridge. Previously, he was responsible for heading the commercial market and business development for EMEA. His focus was in enabling precision health initiatives through the application of next gen sequencing and technologies and constructing ecosystems with the stakeholders that support better patient outcomes i.e, pharma, biotech, CROs & healthcare systems.
Prior to joining Illumina, he has worked in the NHS to deliver sustainable transformation programs and spent several years working in the pharma industry across early research & development, global informatics, strategic finance planning, strategy for the CFO/CIO office and leading the UK pricing and innovation stream.
He is a member of the Praesens Foundation (not for profit) and serves as an advisor to health and tech startups.
Bobby earned his B.Sc in Biology, with a focus on neuroscience and genomics, and a M.Sc in IT from Queen Mary University of London.
Courtney is Staff Scientist at Illumina Accelerator San Francisco Bay Area where she is responsible for portfolio investments and provides technology expertise, scientific direction, and market insights to genomics startups.
Courtney joined Illumina in 2008 as Technical Account Manager in the FastTrack Sequencing Services team, expanding Illumina’s network of key opinion leaders and enabling early research in the field of genomics with data from the first Genome Analyzer systems. She led process integration for the launch of phasing and long reads sequencing services for FastTrack and supported the scale-up of whole genome sequencing. Prior to Illumina, Courtney studied genetics in the labs of Professors Linda Boxer and Rick Myers at Stanford University. She earned a doctorate in Bioinformatics from University of California, San Francisco under the mentorship of Bioinformatics Department Director, Patricia Babbitt. Courtney studied transgenic mice and patient samples to identify genes involved in autism and computationally investigated alternative splicing, HPV detection, and microRNA diversity. She served as a panelist to award SBIR/STTR grants and led student associations at UCSF to support women in research careers.
Diane joined Illumina in 2019 to support the global operations and administrative processes of Illumina Accelerator. Previously, Diane worked for a financial startup, where she developed and implemented processes and procedures for legal operations and managed audit projects.
Diane earned her Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in Computer Science, from Santa Clara University.
Marc joined Illumina in 2019 to support the sourcing and development of Illumina Accelerator startups. Previously, Marc led Biotech Connection - Bay Area, an incorporated nonprofit that accelerates innovation and development for biotech startups and big pharma by bringing together academic scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors. Prior to that, Marc was on the investment team at Lam Research Capital, where he sourced and performed diligence on life science investment opportunities.
Marc earned his Ph.D. in Computational Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, where he focused on the development of novel tools to characterize, model, and predict heterogeneous behavior in cell populations and other complex biochemical systems. Marc obtained his MSc in Biochemical Engineering with first-class honors from University College London and his BSc in Biotechnology with highest honors from Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Ursula Arndt, Ph.D., is the Staff Scientist at Illumina Accelerator Cambridge, UK. She was previously responsible for the Illumina Solutions Labs at the EMEA HQ (Cambridge), the ISO 13485 accredited laboratory supporting internal and customer facing activities
Ursula earned a M.A. in Palaeogenetics from the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, Germany and a Ph.D in molecular Archaeology from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.
Jay led Illumina as CEO from 1999 until 2016 and now serves as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. During his tenure as CEO, he took the company from $1.3 million in sales in 2000 to $2.2 billion in 2015, representing a compound annual growth rate of 64 percent. He oversaw the company’s expansion from microarrays into next-generation sequencing with the acquisition of Solexa in 2006, and from research into clinical and applied markets. Under his leadership, Illumina was named multiple times to the Deloitte & Touche Fast 50 and Fast 500 lists, as well as to the Forbes 25 Fastest-Growing Tech Companies (2007, 2009 and 2010), the Fortune 100 Fastest-Growing Companies (2010 and 2011) lists, and recognition by MIT Technology Review as the World’s Smartest Company in 2014.
Jay chairs the Board of Directors for Illumina. In addition to his work at Illumina, he serves on the Boards of Directors at Coherent, Denali, Iridia and on the Board of Trustees for The Salk Institute and is an Advisory Board member for UC San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center. Previously, Jay served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Molecular Dynamics, later acquired by Amersham Pharmacia Biotech and now a part of GE Healthcare. As a co-founder and member of the board of directors for Molecular Dynamics he led the company to its initial public offering in 1993. While there, he also helped Molecular Dynamics develop and launch over 15 major instrumentation systems, including the first capillary-based DNA sequencer. Prior to joining Molecular Dynamics, Jay was Vice President of Engineering and Strategic Planning for Plexus Computers, Executive Vice President for Manning Technologies and held various positions at Spectra Physics.
Jay received a B.A. in economics from Claremont McKenna College and a B.S. and M.S. (summa cum laude) in industrial engineering from Stanford University.
Paula Dowdy is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Commercial Operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Since joining Illumina in August 2016, Dowdy has reorganized the business, identified new markets and returned the region to sustainable growth. In addition, Dowdy played a pivotal role as a senior leader with the launch of the NovaSeq.
Previously, Dowdy was Senior Vice President for Cloud, Software, and Managed Services at Cisco where she drove numerous innovative solutions. During her 20-year tenure at Cisco, she held numerous leadership roles, spearheading product, software and service groups for virtually all customer segments. Having spent the majority of her career in Europe, Dowdy currently resides in London.
Dowdy holds a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University and an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Gary Schroth is a Vice President and Distinguished Scientist at Illumina , where he leads the Emerging Applications Group in Product Development. He has been working in the field of next-generation sequencing (NGS) for over 15 years as part of Illumina and Solexa. In his research, Gary uses NGS to study genomics, gene structure, expression and regulation and applies this to projects in the fields of cancer, immunology, microbiology and infectious disease.
Mya Thomae is currently advising organizations that are doing good for the world, science and their employees. Mya most recently was Illumina’s Vice President of Regulatory, Clinical and Medical Affairs. Mya has more than twenty years of experience as a regulatory professional including founding and running Myraqa, a boutique regulatory affairs consulting firm purchased by Illumina in 2014. Mya has extensive experience in gaining regulatory approvals for novel IVDs in the United States and Europe. This work has included PMAs, 510(k)s and de novo 510(k)s in the United States for both kit and lab-based products. In the European Union, Mya has experience with working with Notified Bodies and Competent Authorities on List A, List B and self-certified products. Certified by the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS) since 1994, Mya also received the FDA Commissioner’s Special Citation in 2009 as a member of the rRt-PCR Flu Panel Team for exceptional performance and dedication in addressing complex regulatory and scientific issues in the clearance of a CDC test to diagnose human influenza infection.
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Illumina Ventures is an independently managed venture fund in a strategic partnership with Illumina. Illumina provides the majority of Illumina Ventures capital and access to the expertise and vision of the world's leading genomics solutions provider.
The description of Illumina Accelerator presented on this website is for informational purposes only, and is subject to change. A full description of Illumina Accelerator, the terms and conditions of participation, and the rights and obligations of Illumina and selected participants will be available upon request.