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Investments Added to Breakout Labs Life Science Seed Grants

Loose bills of multiple denominations (borman818)26 March 2014. NetScientific in Cambridge, U.K. is adding investment funds for qualified life science enterprises taking part in Breakout Labs to help them advance beyond the initial start-up phase. Under the deal, Breakout Labs portfolio companies fitting into NetScientific’s investment priorities will qualify for $250,000 in follow-on investment beyond Breakout Labs’ $350,000 in seed capital.

Breakout Labs in San Francisco is a project of the Thiel Foundation that aims to provide early-stage financing to life science companies with unconventional, creative, and ground-breaking ideas that would not likely qualify for support by traditional science funding sources, including government agencies. Funds also support platform technologies that can have a broad impact, but lack an immediate commercial pay-back.

Support from Breakout Labs is based on a revolving fund model, with companies receiving seed funds assigning part of their intellectual-property royalties to pay back the initial investment. An alternative is to assign full intellectual property rights to Breakout Labs, in exchange for substantial royalties later on. Some 16 companies so far received Breakout Labs grants.

NetScientific supports companies developing technologies that improve the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of chronic disease, particularly solutions that reduce the cost of monitoring and treating those disorders. The company seeks out late-stage translational research from universities, research institutes, and teaching hospitals. It is currently focusing on personalized point-of-care diagnostics and digital telehealth that combines personalized monitoring of chronic conditions with cloud computing and “big-data” analytics.

The first company to receive NetScientific follow-on funds is CytoVale Inc. in South San Francisco, California. CytoVale is developing a diagnostics platform based on single-cell biomarkers. The company’s technology measures changes in the mechanical properties of individual cells when in a diseased state.

The CytoVale platform uses microfluidics, which the company says makes it possible to measure more than 10 biophyical cell markers at a rate in excess of 2,000 cells per second. The technology is based on the research of UCLA bioengineering professor Dino Di Carlo, a co-founder of CytoVale.

The initial grant from Breakout Labs is helping CytoVale develop early diagnostics and detection of sepsis, a potential life-threatening complication of infection. The company also received last year a $200,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from NIH to advance its diagnostics platform.

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