Illumina accelerator gets $40M cash infusion from hedge fund Viking Global

Illumina Accelerator head Amanda Cashin

Illumina ($ILMN) has revealed a new fund structure to back startup graduates from its accelerator that launched early last year. Dubbed Illumina Accelerator Boost Capital, the fund has secured an initial $40 million capital commitment from Viking Global Investors.

For each accelerator graduate company, Illumina Accelerator Boost Capital will match every dollar it has raised for any amount between $1 million and $5 million.

The Illumina Accelerator launched in February 2014. It's a six-month program that provides participants with technology and business guidance and support as well as $100,000. Startups in the program also gain access to sequencing systems and reagents as well as fully operational lab space in the Mission Bay area of San Francisco, CA.

Technology investor Yuri Milner committed to providing the cash in exchange for convertible notes, while Silicon Valley Bank provides banking services and credit to the Illumina Accelerator companies. The convertible note value is capped at $5 million; Illumina also takes a 10% stake in each startup.

Illumina SVP and CTO Mostafa Ronaghi

"We are proud to partner with Viking Global Investors," said Mostafa Ronaghi, Illumina SVP and CTO said in a statement. "As we continue to support innovation and entrepreneurship, we believe this committed capital will further boost the genomics innovation ecosystem."

This accelerator is the first to focus entirely on cultivating genomics startups. It's led by Amanda Cashin, who was previously an SVP of Life Science at Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

Applications for the next funding cycle are due by March 9. The inaugural, 6-month accelerator Fall 2014 class started on Aug. 1. It included three startups: Encoded Genomics, which uses genomics to identify functional elements with therapeutic properties, Xcell Biosciences, a research tools and diagnostics company with a blood cell culture solution, and EpiBiome, an agricultural company developing bacteriophage compositions to prevent and treat mastitis infections in dairy cattle.

Accelerator candidates are limited to a team of four members who are focused on taking their next generation sequencing applications to market.

The investment is a bit of a departure for hedge fund Viking Global Investors, which has more than $30 billion under management and invests primarily in public equities that are not necessarily focused on the life sciences or healthcare.

- here is the release

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