Vertical Venture Partners and The Triton Technology Fund join the Seed Round investment in GALT.
Santa Clara, CA/San Diego, CA (PRWEB) February 18, 2016
General Automation Lab Technologies, Inc. (“GALT” or the “Company”) is a startup founded in February 2015 in San Francisco. The Company intends to develop the world’s first automated, high-throughput, low-cost, and end-to-end instrumentation system to cultivate and screen microbes.
The inspiration for GALT came from Mike Seely, a serial entrepreneur. Mike was a director at Taxon Biosciences (“Taxon”). DuPont/Pioneer purchased Taxon in April, 2015. DuPont/Pioneer/Taxon uses microbial cultivation, next generation sequencing, and massive data analysis techniques in order to identify microbes that can improve the size, growth rate, and health of plants and animals. DuPont/Pioneer/Taxon also finds microbes that improve oil and gas production.
A co-founder of the company is Karsten Zengler a tenured Associate Professor at UC San Diego. Dr. Zengler specializes in pediatric microbial disease. He is also chief scientific officer at Ascus Biosciences.
What are Microbes?
When we refer to microbes, we mean bacteria, algae, protozoa, yeast, and other predominantly single-cell organisms at the 1 to 10-micron size scale. Examples of microbes include Escherichia coli (E. coli), a bacteria used for chemical production that is found in the intestines of humans and animals, in the environment, and in food which is typically harmless to humans but in certain cases can be harmful to humans; Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria found on the skin and in the respiratory tract that is usually harmless but can cause skin infections and life threatening “staph infections”; Chlorophyta, a grouping of green algae that live in water worldwide; Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast (a form of fungus) used to make beer that converts sugar into alcohol; Giardia lamblia, an obligate anaerobe (cannot live in oxygen) protozoan that is a human parasite attacking the small intestines; Rhizobia, soil bacteria that enable legumes to fix nitrogen into the soil; Ruminococcus, bacteria which allow ruminants to break down the cellulose in grass into sugar; Penicillium chrysogenum, a fungus that produces a natural antibiotic to kill certain types of bacteria; Sulfolobus solfataricus, an archaea that grows inside hot active volcanoes that metabolizes with sulfur instead of oxygen; and Clostridium, a bacteria used for oil reservoir enhancement, making the drug Botox, and for producing useful chemicals. There are at least hundreds of thousands of species of microbes, most of which have never been studied by scientists. Microbes exist in almost every possible environmental niche in the world. Humans, animals, and plants could not live without microbes because we would not have oxygen in the air, nitrogen in the soil, or the ability to digest many foods. Because of the difficulty of growing microbes in a laboratory, many scientists assert that only approximately 1% of the world’s microbes have been cultivated to-date. Note that within a microbial species, there is typically considerable variation in the DNA sequences of individual microbes, as each microbe adapts to the forces of evolution via DNA mutations.
Use Cases for Microbes
There are many new use cases for microbes in active development today. These include:
- Producing new biotech drugs
- Producing industrial chemicals and fuels
- Discovering novel antibiotics
- Identifying new human therapies for curing gastrointestinal problems
- Enhancing crop and animal productivity
- Remediating chemical spills
- Generating enzymes for industrial chemical intermediates and biochemical reactions
- Screening for drugs against microbes causing infectious diseases and cancer
- Enhancing oil & gas reservoirs
- Producing flavors and fragrances in a reactor instead of on cropland
- Producing skin care products
There are thousands of researchers in companies and universities working on biotech drugs, biotech seeds, chemicals, oil & gas, and consumer products who are heavily involved in microbial cultivation today. Because of the revolution in next generation sequencing and in proteomics in the past few years, there is a rapidly growing demand for microbial cultivation. Once a researcher determines a promising new genetic sequence for an organism, the researcher needs to cultivate the organism to determine how the organism expresses the genetic sequence.
Current State of Microbial Cultivation and Evaluation
While at Taxon, Mike Seely heard the scientists frequently complaining about the high cost, low throughput, slow speed, and many manual steps involved in microbial cultivation and evaluation. The basic framework of microbial cultivation has not changed in at least 30 years.
GALT Team to Revolutionize Microbial Cultivation and Evaluation
Mike Seely assembled an “all-star team” of experts in microbial cultivation techniques to attempt to revolutionize microbial cultivation and evaluation. In essence, the team aims to do to microbial cultivation and evaluation what Twist Biosciences is doing to DNA synthesis – dramatically transform a biological process that badly needs a major transformation. The goals of Mike Seely’s team are to substantially cut the cost, lower the cycle time, and improve the results of microbial cultivation via automating the process, shrinking the reaction area, enabling the use of diverse growth media, and supporting DNA sequencing.
About Vertical Venture Partners
Vertical Venture Partners is a venture capital firm focused on investments in companies that target specific vertical markets. Some vertical markets of interest include Retail, Healthcare, Transportation, Insurance, Financial Services and Telecommunications. Some technology areas of interest include: analytical applications, cloud applications, mobile, vertical CRM, cyber-security, software infrastructure, materials and advanced instrumentation. Vertical Venture Partners will invest at any stage of a company’s growth and can help companies accelerate their business. For more information, interested parties may contact VVP at email@example.com.
The Triton Fund (TTF) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vertical Venture Partners (VVP). TTF invests in companies commercializing technologies being developed at UC San Diego (UCSD) or by UCSD alumni. Companies can originate in any school including, for example, Jacobs School of Engineering, Rady School of Management, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, or the Medical School. Technology areas of interest include cloud applications, analytics, social media, mobile, materials, medical devices, digital health, healthcare IT, instruments and cloud software infrastructure. Of particular interest are technologies that can be matched with a targeted vertical market. For more information, interested parties may contact Triton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Triton Fund
Rosibel Ochoa, 1-858-822-6775