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Biotechnology

Y Combinator Will Give You $1 Million to Try to Cure Aging

January 11, 2018

The famed startup incubator Y Combinator put out a call for companies that want to increase human longevity and “health span.”

Who they want: Founders with new ideas for treating old-age diseases like Alzheimer’s, “but we will also consider more radical anti-aging schemes,” YC president Sam Altman told MIT Technology Review

Why longevity? Efforts to stop old age don’t actually get funded much. “My sense is that economic incentives of drugs companies are screwed up” says Altman. “I don’t think we have enough people saying, How can we make a lot of people a lot heathier?” 

The deal: Longevity startups get $500,000 to $1 million in exchange for a 20 percent stake, lab space, and advice (quite a bit more than the $120,000 software companies get if they’re picked for the incubator. But hey, biology is more expensive). They will travel to San Francisco to join the next three-month “class" of startups, which starts in June.

Big bio returns? Y Combinator started accepting biology companies in 2014. One of them, Ginkgo, has gone on to raise hundreds of millions more to fund its organism-hacking business. As for others, Altman says he’s not worried about getting his money back: “You could make a pill that added two years to a person’s life that would be a $100 billion company.”

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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