Last August, I wrote about Y Combinator’s growing focus on life sciences, detailing the five biotech and six bio-related startups that took part in the Summer 2014 batch. Since then, the bio seed market has seen a lot of action: seven months is a long time in Startupland.

New player Indie Bio has been establishing itself on the bio accelerator / seed-fund front, while more targeted programs like the Illumina Accelerator have been starting to make their mark. Existing power players like Breakout Labs have also been expanding their portfolios and the rise of AngelList Syndicates is opening up bio investment opportunities to non-specialists.

I learnt today that Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and big-time philanthropist, is launching the Allen Institute for Cell Science in Seattle. Allen, who has a track record of backing life science causes such as the Allen Institute for Brain Science, has committed $100M to the project which aims to create predictive models of how human cells work and accelerate disease research as a result.

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AuthorRachel

The widespread popularity of apps like Tinder has propelled online dating into the mainstream. Meeting people via the internet is now the norm and the shamefaced days of secret profiles are largely gone.

Yet, doubts remain about whether it’s possible to judge a potential partner’s compatibility through these services. OK, you might be able tell if they’re aesthetically pleasing from their photos, while their hobbies might suggest a shared love of cycling, but how do you know if there's chemistry? A startup named SingldOut, which contacted me with news of its $500K seed round, claims to have a scientific answer to this problem.

Early diagnosis of disease can quite literally be the difference between life and death. However, current methods of diagnosis are problematic because:

  1. They're invasive (e.g. biopsies, PAP smears etc.) and therefore can put the health of patients at risk,

  2. They're expensive (e.g. the cost of lab work and expert analysis), and

  3. You have to know what you're looking for. If symptoms suggest more than one disease, multiple methods of diagnosis (e.g. CT scans followed by colonoscopies) must be tried, increasing the aforementioned risk and cost. Worse still, some diseases are symptomless until it's too late. Take pancreatic cancer for example, where a tumor grows rapidly without causing symptoms and is often diagnosed when it’s no longer curable.

In August 2013, a crowdfunding campaign for Kite Patch, a malaria-fighting sticker that stops mosquitoes from tracking humans, went viral. With an initial goal of raising $75,000, the project instead raised $557,254 from 11,254 people and became one of Indiegogo's record-breaking campaigns. 

The company behind the ambitious Kite Patch is a southern California-based startup ieCrowd and I talked to CEO Amro Albanna to find out where the company is up to. It turns out that the mosquito-blocking Kite is just one of three products being produced (more on these below).

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AuthorRachel