Data Collective (DCVC) is bringing Dr. John Cumbers, the founder of synthetic biology platform SynBioBeta and setting him up with his own biotech fund for pre-seed and seed stage startups, aptly called the DCVC SynBioBeta Fund.
DCVC co-managing partner Matt Ocko, who spoke to TechCrunch about the new development didn’t have an exact number set aside for the new fund but did mention Cumbers will be able to do 15-20 relatively serious deals, ranging anywhere from $50,000 to a few million.
DCVC has already made a number of investments in the health and synthetic biology field with big data plays but it was time, according to Ocko, to set up an official channel.
“John has been running the premier network for the synthetic biology industry, sees new companies and technologies before most people do, and understands where the technologies are headed,” said Ocko. “We didn’t want to hamstring John by sticking him with a traditional fund structure.”
Ocko compares it to what Accel did with its Big Data Fund but one might draw a closer comparison to that of SOS Ventures and its separate IndiBio fund. Though that fund is run more like a Y Combinator, with a set amount for each startup in an accelerator program. In contrast, DCVC SynBioBeta will be able to create small deals with the opportunity to bring in the much larger DCVC to add to the coffers should the new fund discover the next Illumina or another biotechnology set to revolutionize the industry.
Meanwhile, SynBioBeta will still run along just as it has and DCVC will gain the advantage of Cumbers years of knowledge in the field.
“As DCVC has observed through our significant portfolio of applied AI investments, and likewise in synthetic biology, each advance by one generation of startups fuels exponential progress in the next one. We’re delighted to have John help us and our entrepreneurs navigate this immense opportunity,” Zachary Bogue, DCVC’s other managing partner added.