How do scientists working on radical new ideas translate ingenuity into sustainable business models? And how do entrepreneurs find the science they might need to create a breakthrough biotech product? Lab coats have to brush up against business suits. Breakout Labs, a seed fund project of Peter Thiel’s Thiel Foundation, makes it happen. The fund seeks to help early-stage science and technology companies “break out” of the lab and into the business world with grants of up to $350,000. This helps companies achieve “very specific scientific milestones,” says Breakout Labs Executive Director Lindy Fishburne. It puts them, she says, “in a much better position to try to attract either government grants, angel investors, start to move towards a Series A, and maybe strategic partners.” We spoke to Fishburne at the Techonomy Bio conference in Mountain View, Calif. She said entrepreneurs who want to “engage in the intersection of technology and biology” (the theme of Techonomy Bio) have many new opportunities to do so in efficient, cost-effective ways. Companies Breakout Labs supports are working on things like biofabrication—Modern Meadow is a one that produces synthetic versions of meat and leather in a lab. Fishburne says “points of access” like Techonomy Bio that bring together the tech and biology worlds are essential to help scientists better understand how to build groundbreaking bio startups.
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