Transcriptic offers Y Combinator biotechs $20,000 credit for its robotic labs

Y Combinator has struck a deal to help its clutch of biotechs make the most of their web startup-sized seed rounds. The 10 biotechs in the latest batch of Y Combinator startups--as well as those that have already graduated from the incubator--will receive $20,000 to spend at Transcriptic's automated life science laboratory.

The deal is a continuation of the idea that attracted Y Combinator to biotechs in the first place. With IT reshaping aspects of early-stage drug development and other biotech fields, Y Combinator forecast that the cost of setting up a startup would come down. Transcriptic is one of the companies trying to realize this vision. The Google ($GOOG) Ventures-backed business runs experiments on behalf of clients using robotic liquid handlers and other programmable tools.

Advocates of the approach see it doing for biotechs what Amazon Web Services (AWS) did for web startups. Once AWS made it quick and cheap to access scalable computing resources, a big obstacle to starting and growing a web firm disappeared. "What if the cost of biotech startups could come down in the same way? We could have a whole early-stage ecosystem, there could be ten times the number of biotech companies [starting up]," Y Combinator President Sam Altman told The Wall Street Journal.

Transcriptic is still some way off from causing the sort of seismic shifts triggered by AWS, but Y Combinator and others see potential in its approach. Y Combinator has made an undisclosed investment in the company, joining the likes of Google Ventures and Founders Fund. The next step is a Series A round. Transcriptic is currently running two experiments at its lab and plans to set up another this month, TechCrunch reports.

- read the WSJ article
- here's TechCrunch's take
- and Y Combinator's post