Inside the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab’s One Year of Innovation

Last November we opened the doors to the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab, the newest addition to the Harvard Innovation Labs ecosystem.

In the past year our 15,000-square-foot facility—featuring a fully equipped and permitted laboratory with 36 benches, office space, and access to mentorship and resources—has become home to ventures that are focused on solving global issues affecting the health and well being of millions.

As we reach the one year mark, we wanted to take a moment to share how far the Life Lab has already come in fulfilling this vision. Here are the highlights:

Building a thriving ecosystem of life science ventures

Even during the earliest planning stages, our hope was that the Life Lab would attract ventures with both great potential and an interest in supporting the Harvard Innovation Labs community. We were committed to exercising patience in selecting the right teams, even if it meant a longer than expected path to nurturing a robust ecosystem of Life Lab ventures.

The number of high-potential startups that applied in the first year has greatly exceeded our expectations. While we’re thrilled to approach full occupancy after one year, more important is the progress that each team has made, and the effort they’ve put into sharing their experiences and expertise with the Harvard Innovation Labs community.

We believe that the diverse makeup of the teams’ backgrounds has been a key element to their success. Across all of the Harvard Innovation Labs, we strive to bring together innovators from across academic disciplines to exchange ideas and form ventures. Staying true to this focus, the founders of the Life Lab ventures represent nine of the thirteen Harvard schools.

Celebrating team milestones, including more than $30 million of capital raised

Since moving in, many of the Life Lab teams have secured capital for their businesses in the last year, collectively raising more than $30 million in funding. This is a true vote of confidence from the investor community in the tremendous potential across Life Lab ventures.

We are thrilled to support a community of entrepreneurs that have been able to accomplish so much in a relatively short amount of time. Here are some of the accomplishments from Life Lab teams:

  • Smart diagnostics company Accure Health received an SBIR grant, and secured additional funding from the National Cancer Institute. The company built several advanced prototypes of its digital health sensor platform, while also exploring new applications of its platform such as food allergen detection.
  • AirCrew is commercializing advanced catalytic materials developed at Harvard SEAS for air purification. In the recent months AirCrew has established their lab space at the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab facility and began working on catalyst optimization towards development of a commercial product.
  • Akouos, a company developing therapies and delivery systems to prevent hearing loss and restore hearing in genetically-defined patient populations, recently closed a first venture financing round, which will carry the venture through pre-IND work. The company is currently preparing materials for experiments with rodents, sheep, and nonhuman primates.
  • Aldatu Biosciences is a biotechnology company applying its proprietary genotyping platform—PANDAA—to the development of innovative diagnostics designed to address unmet clinical needs in infectious disease. This year, the company grew its team from 5 to 7 members, and received a Phase II SBIR for further development of the company’s PANDAA diagnostic platform. The company was also among the inaugural class of awardees for MassRamp, a new grant program from the Massachusetts Life Science Center.
  • Catalog is revolutionizing data storage by harnessing DNA. The venture successfully transitioned headquarters from IndieBio in San Francisco to the Life Lab. It also closed a $5M seed round, and added CTO Darren Link and Principal Engineer Swapnil Bhatia to their team.
  • Focused on antibiotic resistance prediction, Day Zero Diagnostics secured a $3.1M seed round, and won a top prize in the 2017 MedTech Innovator Global Competition. They also made progress on their research, which focuses on using whole genome sequencing for fast diagnosis of bacterial infections.
  • GRO Biosciences Inc. produces high-value protein therapeutics in microbes that must traditionally be made in expensive mammalian systems. The company announced $2.1 million in seed funding, co-led by Digitalis Ventures and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors. The funds will support buildout of bioprocess development for GRO Biosciences’ platform of genomically recoded bacteria for the production of therapeutic proteins with enhanced properties.
  • Obsidio Medical is restoring health and extending life by stopping unwanted blood flow through vessels anywhere in the body. This year, the company won Future of Surgery Pitch Competition, sponsored by B Braun.
  • Octagon Therapeutics raised an additional $600k in equity financing, and initiated a chemistry campaign to optimize its new class of antibiotics. The company also generated animal data showing the efficacy of Octagon’s medicines against resistant bacterial superbugs.
  • Riparian Pharmaceuticals is translating novel biology of the blood vessel wall into new therapeutics to promote vascular health. The company made progress on all fronts, focusing on peripheral artery disease and pulmonary arterial hypertension. They also received a $150K NIH fellowship to support their efforts.
  • UrSure Inc., an HIV prevention company, has made significant progress towards developing its point of care test. It received a Phase 1 SBIR funding, and was one of the final 26 teams in MassChallenge. The company has also started two pilots with departments of public health.
  • Vaxess Technologies was awarded two Gates Foundation grants worth roughly $6M to advance next generation polio and measles/rubella vaccines on the MIMIX sustained release microneedle platform. The company signed two new pharmaceutical collaborations while expanding a third, and grew the team from 10 to 17.
  • WntRx Pharmaceuticals completed optimization of its lead clinical candidate molecule WX-024 for metastatic colorectal cancer. The company is preparing first in human clinical plan for Phase I clinical trial.
  • X-Cor Therapuetics, a company inventing dialysis for lung function, secured initial funding at the beginning of the year, and completed its computational model of exchange kinetics of major ions and gas components. The company has also completed its blood compatible bench top prototype with testing.
  • XGenomes achieved critical technical milestones in the development of its gene sequencing chemistry, and won a SBIR NIH funding to tailor its technology to view the macro-scale organization of genomes.

We look forward to celebrating the continued progress of the members of our community in the coming year, and welcoming new ventures to the Life Lab in 2018 and beyond. If you’re interested in joining our growing community, visit http://harvardlifelab.com/apply/.