Verily, Alphabet’s life science research arm, recently opened its doors to bio and health tech startups for “partner space.” This bold action is a different take on what other startup accelerators and coworking lab spaces are doing. Unlike their peers, Verily does not have to invest in these startups, and they can also rent laboratory space for these health tech ventures.
It has more than a dozen projects on the pipeline, including a contact lens capable of reading glucose levels. Verily is also working on assistive technology for the impaired.
Named the Verily Partner Space, the project gives startups access to shared space and facilities, the chance to work side by side with Verily researchers. This is an opportunity to share ideas in a highly innovative creative space. The goal is to provide a home for promising startups during the crucial formative years while they are still refining their business model and their technology.
This is not an outright rental of space, however. Verily will also be doing a venture review as there are only a limited number of slots for companies. There are already two slots allotted, namely Culture Robotics and Freenome. Culture Robotics is a startup which creates biotech tools. The other, Freenome, creates medical diagnostics tools, and is currently working on an early stage cancer test. Verily has equity investments in both these companies.
Verily has already worked with partners at their own space, with the idea that there would be better collaboration when researchers are in the same location. Among the companies which already do research at Verily are Onduo, Galvani Bioelectronics and Verb Surgical. Onduo is a joint venture with Sanofi in researching diabetes tools. It makes use of both Sanofi’s pharmaceutical expertise and Verily’s analytics, software, and electronics expertise.
Galvani Bioelectronics is a joint undertaking with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to develop tiny electronic devices that attach to the nerve endings and used is in treating diseases. Verb Surgical is a collaboration with Johnson & Johnson in the development of robot surgical assistants.
These are separate companies and startups in their own rights. These also happen to be collaborations with established companies. These companies make use of Verily facilities and serve as a form of prototype and template on how Partner Space will work. It just happens that these companies already have big financial support.
Startup incubators often serve as offices for small startups. The incubator provides the needed equipment and workspace in exchange for equity. For Culture Robotics, choosing to partner with Verily allowed them to make use not only of the facilities and equipment, but also the opportunity to work in close proximity to Verily’s researchers. The high cost of office space in Silicon Valley was another important consideration.
In turn, Verily is trying to find a symbiotic relationship with health startups. It has more than a dozen projects on the pipeline, including a contact lens capable of reading glucose levels. Verily is also working on assistive technology for the impaired. They have also made connections and partnerships with established health and pharmaceutical companies worldwide.
Verily’s innovative Partner Space, including its collaborations and equity investments, all aim towards a grabbing a large part of the health and medical sector, all in all worth an estimated $3 trillion. Other tech companies trying to compete in this space include Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.