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Illumina and a Billionaire Want to Jump-Start Genomics Upstarts

Yuri Milner at the 2013 annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Yuri Milner at the 2013 annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif.Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

One of the big themes in Silicon Valley over the past three or four years is how cheap it has become to start a company that can reach millions of people. Amazon.com and others have come to market with low-cost computing infrastructure services that software developers can rent by the hour and use to get their companies up and running without having to fork over a bundle on hardware. Smartphones and tablets have allowed small teams of app makers to earn good livings on the back of a relatively modest amount of work.

Some startups haven’t had it so easy. Biotech companies, for example, often require more funds to pay for capital equipment and laboratory costs. Regulatory hurdles and the time needed to commercialize a product can also put off venture capitalists, who more than ever seem to want to chase quick, easy money. There’s an argument to be made that biotech startups could use an extra helping hand to get going. Which brings us to a new accelerator program for genomics companies.