Bakar Labs to award lab space to startups researching gene tech

Photo of the new Bakar Lab
Bakar BioEnginuity Hub/Courtesy
In partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, UC Berkeley's Bakar Labs will hold a competition to award lab facilities to startups focused on finding a cure for cystic fibrosis via gene technology.

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UC Berkeley’s Bakar Labs has partnered with the Cystic Fibrosis, or CF,  Foundation to hold a competition that will award lab space and facilities to startups focused on finding a cure for cystic fibrosis through gene technology.

The upcoming startup competition, known as the Golden Ticket Competition, evolved as “the best way to work together.” Companies that specialize in gene technology are invited to pitch their research and help the CF Foundation discover these solutions.

“Bakar Labs is a real premier incubator for life science startup companies. It is fully equipped with all the lab bench space for up to 50 startups,” said Kaspar Mossman, communications and marketing director at Bakar Labs. “It’s ideal for biopharma, medical devices, or anyone developing medical biological technology that actually needs lab space to start.”

Cystic fibrosis is a recessive disease that is caused by mutations in the genes that develop the cystic fibrosis protein. Complications of the condition involve disruption in lung functions and other parts of the body, according to Conway. Genetic therapies are considered a feasible strategy to cure cystic fibrosis.

Bakar Labs, which is located in UC Berkeley’s Bakar BioEnginuity Hub, offers a stage for startup companies to have the lab space and materials they need to grow, according 

Bakar Labs had initially reached out to the CF Foundation in hopes of working with a patient advocacy organization, according to Suzie Conway, the senior communications specialist at the CF Foundation. 

“Genetic therapies, which include both gene replacement and gene editing approaches, are considered the most promising strategy to cure CF, as they have the potential to address the root genetic cause of disease,” Conway said in an email.

The chosen startups will not only gain free lab space and facilities, but also connections and resources from the CF Foundation, according to Mossman. The national status of the CF Foundation will allow the startups to have access and resources in preparation of clinical trials. 

The competition is expected to run from May 2 to May 30, with a pitch day later on in July for shortlisted finalists, according to Bakar Labs’ website. Evaluators will judge startups on scientific and business prospects and winners will be announced on the same day as the pitch day. The selected startups can be expected to start operating in Bakar Labs by the fall. 

“Imagine working in your garage but then you’re working with a national organization,” Mossman said. “It is going to be amazing for them.”

Contact Ashley Tsai at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @ashleyttsai.