Rock Health backs cloud-based R&D platform as Abbott comes on board

Digital health investor Rock Health has added 8 startups to its portfolio, bringing the number of active companies in its network up to 55. And with one of the startups focusing on life science R&D and Abbott ($ABT) among its new corporate partners, the incubator has strengthened its ties to drug development.

The R&D-focused startup is Benchling, a provider of a cloud-based platform for planning, logging and sharing experiments. Having already raised $900,000 in seed funding from Y Combinator, SV Angel and other angel investors, San Francisco, CA-based Benchling has now hooked up with Rock Health. The digital health investor and incubator typically offers portfolio companies a $100,000 convertible note, but the terms of the Benchling arrangement have yet to be disclosed.

Aside from the seed funding, Rock Health also provides its portfolio companies with support, expertise and links to useful corporate contacts. Abbott is now one of Rock Health's partners, with the drug and device giant joining Genentech on the list. The partners offer advice and provide support to the startups. "Rock Health's support system has already proven incredibly valuable," Kevin Henry, CEO of Accountable, one of the new batch of portfolio companies, told VatorNews.

Benchling hopes the support can speed the uptake and expansion of its platform, which exited open beta in February and has since added support for managing protocols and capturing gel analysis data. The ultimate goal is to support the management and sharing of all types of biological data. The startup already claims to be used by hundreds of groups, including Boston University, Imperial College London and other academic institutes. Benchling is also targeting biopharma.

- read the Rock Health blog
- here's VatorNews' take