Last August, I wrote about Y Combinators growing focus on life sciences, detailing the five biotech and six bio-related startups that took part in the Summer 2014 batch. Since then, the bio seed market has seen a lot of action: seven months is a long time in Startupland.
New player Indie Bio has been establishing itself on the bio accelerator / seed-fund front, while more targeted programs like the Illumina Accelerator have been starting to make their mark. Existing power players like Breakout Labs have also been expanding their portfolios and the rise of AngelList Syndicates is opening up bio investment opportunities to non-specialists.
It's probably fair to say, therefore, that competition to get in on the early-stage rounds of promising life science talent is heating up. Has it impacted YC's ability to attract innovative startups? Judging by the quantity and quality of the latest batch's line-up (more on this below), the answer is a clear "no". There are probably two main reasons for this. First, it's important to note that participation in one program doesnt preclude participation in another: RockHealths portfolio for example includes YC alumni Benchling, Aptible and Drchrono. Second, the allure of YC's prestige, experience and enormous network of advisors cannot be underestimated.
Yesterday, in a warm-up for todays Demo Day, 108 companies (out of a huge batch of 114) pitched to an audience of YC alumni. YC has classified 18 of that number (15.78%) as biomedical startups, as you can see from the chart below.