Inso Biosciences, an alumni of UNY I-Corps and I-Corps Teams, recently announced its successful securement of both a New York State Manufacturing Grant through the FuzeHub Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund and a National Institute of Health (NIH) Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to further its mission to revolutionize biological sample preparation.
Founded in 2018 by Cornell PhDs Harvey Tian, Adam Bisogni, and Professor Emeritus Harold Craighead of the School of Applied & Engineering Physics, Inso Biosciences is an early-stage biotech startup currently operating out of the McGovern Family Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences at Cornell University. The company is creating innovative tools and microfluidic technology that can remove the need for processing biological samples by hand, thereby paving the way for precise and efficient DNA sequencing. This has potential applications in making activities such as long-read DNA and genome sequencing and pathogen isolation significantly more accessible.
In May 2021, it was announced that Inso Biosciences was selected as a recipient of a New York State Manufacturing Grant through the FuzeHub Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund, securing the company $50,000 to put toward creating a scalable prototype for their innovative technology. More recently, the startup received a $250,000 NIH Phase I SBIR award to develop better sample preparation solutions for pathogen detection and sequencing to monitor diseases such as tuberculosis.
These two significant achievements build upon Inso Biosciences prior success in obtaining a National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR Phase I award in January 2020.
Founder and CEO Harvey Tian credits much of Inso Bioscience’s success to the skills and insights he developed through both the UNY I-Corps regional course and the national I-Corps Teams program. His customer discovery work allowed the company to pivot from an original business plan involving single-cell multi-omic sample processing and analysis to its current beachhead market strategy that better aligns with customer expectations and desires.
“The NSF I-Corps program was transformational for our team,” said Tian. “The major benefit is that being from an academic background, the concepts being taught were a great ‘shotgun-intro’ to important business concepts for us to grasp. The I-Corps experience helped mold our founding team’s vision and thinking from the perspective of scientists and engineers into the perspective of driving a startup.”
Additionally, Inso Biosciences received support from the NYSTAR-funded SBIR/STTR Assistance Program led by the Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University. This program provides eligible startups with the funding they need to hire a qualified SBIR/STTR consultant to aid in navigating the proposal process.
As Inso Biosciences continues to develop its technology and test manufacturing methods, the team is continuing customer discovery work they began through I-Corps and preparing to begin fundraising efforts for a pre-seed/seed round, anticipated to begin in Summer 2021.
“We’re very thankful, especially in retrospect, that we participated in the national I-Corps Teams program. It took us almost 90 interviews before our final pivot into our current beachhead market, and we’re still further sharpening within that beachhead what specific application do we have the strongest value propositions for,” said Tian. “My only piece of advice would be for everyone to participate in I-Corps or similar experiences of customer discovery. It changed our perspectives, it helped us grow, and we are very fortunate to have been a part of the I-Corps program so early on in our startup journey.”