IndieBio’s new ventures strut their stuff during Demo Day

Startups in a broad range of fields, including food, the environment and medical aesthetics, led the field of graduates from IndieBio. And they presented their tech at the accelerator’s latest Demo Day in mid-September.

Prellis Biologics stood at the head of the 12-member graduating class. The San Francisco startup, which is engineering human tissue and organ replacements using 3D printing technology, announced the day before it had received a $1.8 million seed round from True Ventures. The round included participation from Civilization Ventures and 415 Ventures, along with several angel investors.

The VC bet appears well placed, if Prellis Biologics can get its products out the door. One research firm predicts the global tissue-engineering market will quadruple to $94 billion in 2024 from $23 billion two years ago.

“We believe our technology will jumpstart the practical use of lab-printed tissue for life-saving drug development, rapid development of human antibodies, and production of human organs for transplant,” Melanie Matheu, co-founder and chief executive, said in the company’s statement.

Prellis is the latest in a number of very-early-stage synthetic-biology businesses that IndieBio has helped birth since it opened its doors in 2014.

The accelerator program, which takes two classes a year, is operated by SOSV, a Princeton, New Jersey-based early-stage venture firm.

At Demo Day, Founder and Managing Partner Sean O’Sullivan said the parent firm has invested in more than 500 startups over the past two decades and is currently funding at the rate of 150 new companies a year.

The biology startups coming out of IndieBio “will have an important impact on our lives,” O’Sullivan said.

With more than $300 million under management, SOSV is investing about $50 million a year. In addition to IndieBio, SOSV operates a number of other accelerator programs focused on hardware and connected devices, software and food.

Other startups in Prellis’s graduating class include:

  • Not Co, which is trying to developing such products as cheese, eggs, mayonnaise and yogurt made from plant-based ingredients;
  • UBA Biologix, which is developing technology to clean wastewater at mining sites using natural bioremediation processes; and
  • BioAesthetics, which is pursuing the ability to regenerate the nipple-areolar complex for the 200,000-plus women who undergo mastectomies each year.

In August the Menlo Park, California-based venture firm DFJ announced a $17 million Series A round in Memphis Meats, which graduated in a previous IndieBio group.

The round included participation from such high-profile investors as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Kyle Vogt and Kimbal Musk, Elon Musk’s younger brother, who is an entrepreneur and restaurateur. Cargill, the privately held Minnesota foods giant, also participated.

Memphis Meats wants to grow meat in artificial conditions from animal cells. The technology would bypass traditional animal-husbandry methods such as sprawling beef-feed lots and pork-slaughter houses, which are increasingly criticized by environmentalists and animal-rights activists.

IndieBio’s investment amounts range from $80,000 to $250,000 at the low end, which is awarded to the early-stage companies selected to go through the four-month program, to $2.5 million in follow-on investments. About 65 companies have gone through the program to date.

“There are a lot of scientists out there with great technology,” said Arvind Gupta, founder and managing director at IndieBio and general partner at SOSV. “But helping them turn science into products was a big question. We’ve had a lot of failures and we’ve had a lot of success, but the trend is overall a success.”

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