Main Sequence, CSIRO’s venture capital fund that helped get v2food and Nourish Ingredients off the ground, has teamed up with UNSW to launch a new accelerator program for start-ups in Synthetic Biology and Biotech.

The program, SynBio 10x, aims to provide Australian SynBio start-ups with access to capital, scientific infrastructure and networks to accelerate product development and commercialisation.

Run by the UNSW Founders program, in conjunction with the RNA Institute and the UNSW School of Biotechnology & Biomolecular Sciences (BABS), SynBio 10x is a two phase program: fifteen teams will be accepted into the four week SynBio 10x Pre-Accelerator, and up to six teams will be selected to advance to the 10 week SynBio 10x Accelerator program.

The program is backed by Main Sequence, which will invest $120,000 into each start-up accepted into the 10 week Accelerator program, with the potential for further investments to be secured post-program. In addition to this, UNSW Founders will invest a further $20,000 per start-up.

Start-ups accepted into the SynBio 10x Accelerator program will also receive:

• 10 weeks of accelerated learning from industry and start-up experts via workshops, mentoring and collaborative activities
• Weekly 1:1 meetings with a UNSW Founders Entrepreneur-in-Residence
• Access to a co-working space with UNSW Founders
• An opportunity to pitch your start-up to investors at the SynBio 10x Demo Night
• Access to R&D expertise – UNSW staff, students and facilities
• Ongoing media and PR support
• Access to PC2 lab space on the UNSW Kensington campus for six months, plus access to the shared scientific infrastructure of BABS and the RNA Institute

Synthetic Biology – the application of engineering principles to biology – is being harnessed by companies all over the world to help address some of the world’s biggest problems in food, agriculture, health, and medicine. The CSIRO’s National Synthetic Biology Roadmap predicts that by 2040 the industry will be worth $27 billion a year in Australia.

David Burt, UNSW director of entrepreneurship said “The biggest bottleneck for Australian SynBio start-ups is a lack of access to the labs and scientific infrastructure that they need to do product development. Lab infrastructure is rare and expensive and so UNSW will give six of the best Australia SynBio start-ups six months of free access to everything they need to go fast.

Unearthing the next gen

Gabrielle Munzer, principal at Main Sequence, which has invested in numerous plant-based and alternative protein businesses including v2food, Eden Brew and Nourish Ingredients, told Future Alternative that Synthetic Biology has already helped to transform the Australian plant-based food market, but much more can be achieved.

“From “bleeding” plant-based burgers to alternative cheeses that melt — these products are all making their way into restaurants and onto supermarket shelves, offering consumers a new generation of plant-based proteins that look, cook, and taste like the real deal. 

“Alt-protein products have come a long way since the first almond milk or Quorn, but we are quickly hitting a threshold that we can’t cross until we can make animal-free fats that are as remarkable as those that animals make. It’s the fat that makes our milk and meat taste so good – and plant-based alternatives to date haven’t measured up. Nourish Ingredients is a key example of a company using precision fermentation – a form of synthetic biology – to make delicious animal-free fats to enhance plant-based products.

“While exciting, we’re only scratching the surface of this revolutionary technology. From alternative proteins to biodegradable materials, the possibilities are endless. The SynBio 10x Accelerator Program in partnership with UNSW Founders gives us the opportunity to unearth and accelerate the next generation of inspiring Australian companies who can build a massive new industry together, selling game-changing, nutritious food at scale to the rest of the world.”

Applications close on 15 May, 2022.

To register your interest and for information on eligibility, click here.

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