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Peter Thiel's Breakout Labs funds 6 startups $350k each

PayPal co-founder, tech investment guru, looks at bringing more VC to biotech innovations

Innovation series by Krystal Peak
April 17, 2012 | Comments
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As Silicon Valley continues to search for the fastest Wi-Fi chip or the thinnest smartphone, one of the biggest investors in social networking and new technology -- Peter Thiel -- is turning his attention toward the world of biotech advancements. 

Thiel’s latest project, Breakout Labs, is awarding $5 million to companies that are truly revolutionary and life-changing, not just awesome gadgets or online communities.

The new early-stage investment vessel, Breakout Labs, has awarded its six first grants to companies on their way to world-changing levels. Launched just less than six months ago, Breakout Labs noticed that these scientists and inventors were not able to draw in the funding as easily as their information tech counterparts but has intellectual property that was far more valuable to everyday life.

Each company is receiving $350,000 in funding to bring more technology into the science sphere -- and as part of the incubation agreement, each startup agrees to give a small percentage of their proceeds back to the incubator to spur future change and growth in the field of biotech.

Here is the group of recipients of this incubation round and what they do:

  •  3Scan, to develop 3-D digital reconstruction of brain tissue, using a novel, faster, less expensive microscope technology. Building a map of connections in the brain—the connectome—is a critical step to understanding what makes the human brain unique.
  • Arigos Biomedical, to develop methods of cooling organs for long-term storage. When combined with emerging advances in cryopreservation, tissue engineering, and stem cell therapies to eliminate graft rejection, this technology would make banked organs immediately available to anyone needing a transplant.
  •  Immusoft, to re-program human immune cells to produce therapeutics in the body. This technology could dramatically improve the ability to treat a range of diseases, as well as enhance human health and longevity.
  •  Inspirotec, to develop a universal system for collecting and identifying virtually any airborne agent.  Our environment is increasingly subject to natural and man-made toxins, and this technology would allow for their capture and identification in a simple, low cost handheld device.
  • Longevity Biotech, to develop an entirely new class of therapeutics via artificial protein technology (“Hybridtides”). Hybridtides are targeted biologic-like molecules which are highly-resistant to breakdown by natural digestive enzymes and tunable to very stable molecular structures. These features have demonstrated potent therapeutic activity with the possibility of oral biologic delivery.
  •  Positron Dynamics, to enhance the production and collection of positrons, a class of elementary particles. Positrons have many near-term applications, for example, in medical imaging; in the long run, they may be a source of energy—antimatter propulsion—for space travel.

"In the past, people dreamed of the future as a radically better, more technologically advanced place: you might live for centuries, delegate work to your robots, and take your vacations on the moon," said Thiel, in a statement. "Now, many people expect their children to inherit a world worse than today's. With Breakout Labs, we want to rekindle dreams of an amazing future. That's why we're supporting researchers who dream big and want to build a tomorrow in which we all want to live."

Breakout Labs accepts new applications on a rolling basis, but the focus is on companies with an emphasis is on the intersection of biology and technology. 



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