Illumina, Inc. announced the launch of the Illumina Accelerator Program, the world’s first business accelerator focused solely on creating an innovation ecosystem for the genomics industry. Its goal is to speed the time to market and lower the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, start-ups and early stage companies working on scientifically and commercially promising next-generation sequencing (NGS) applications.

Through the accelerator’s six-month program, Illumina will provide invited participants with technology and business guidance and $100,000 in support, including access to sequencing systems and reagents, as well as fully operational lab space in close proximity to the company’s planned R&D facilities in San Francisco’s Mission Bay. Initial partners include prominent technology investor Yuri Milner, who will offer each participating company $100,000 in exchange for convertible notes, and Silicon Valley Bank, which intends to provide banking services and credit to each participating company.

“Next-generation sequencing has reached the lift-off stage. I’m excited to support this endeavor promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the genomics ecosystem and look forward to working with Illumina, the global leader in sequencing technology,” said Yuri Milner.

“As an organization that supports life science entrepreneurs across all stages of growth, we see some of the greatest funding needs at the earliest stages. For this reason, we're excited to be partnering with Illumina and Yuri Milner in the launch of this accelerator program that can help provide the selected companies with the financial resources to continue along their development path and increase their likelihood of success,” said Jennifer Friel Goldstein, Managing Director and National Practice Leader of Biotechnology & Diagnostics at Silicon Valley Bank.

“The dramatic reduction in the cost of sequencing has enabled the scientific and business communities to address an increasingly broad range of research and clinical opportunities. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface, however, and we’re excited to foster the next generation of genomics innovators working in areas as diverse as agriculture, forensics, consumer genetics and diagnostics. The Illumina Accelerator Program will make it easier for them to validate and create NGS applications and bring these solutions to market,” said Mostafa Ronaghi, Illumina’s senior vice president and chief technology officer.

In addition to funding, technology access and mentorship, accelerator participants will have access to Illumina’s global customer and venture networks and partner support services including financial modeling, forecasting, and legal and human resource assistance. They will also receive licensing and technology transfer support and pitch preparation support.

Through a competitive process, the Illumina Accelerator Program will select up to three companies to participate in each six-month session per year. Applications are due May 16, 2014 for the inaugural session that begins August 1, 2014. To apply, visit www.illumina.com/accelerator.