A Non-Incubator Incubator for Life Science Startups

For researchers and early-stage companies that are looking for a fully-equipped laboratory with core facilities, the Molecular Medicine Research Institute (MMRI) in Sunnyvale is a great find. Having moved into the former Affymetrix space 2 years ago, MMRI is now home to 31,000 square feet of laboratory space – including tissue culture and animal facilities – as well as offices and conference rooms. Oh, and high-speed internet service and a gym.

Financed by competitive research grants, donations of equipment and fee-for-service research, MMRI was developed out of a desire to create a cost-effective solution to resource-constrained startups. As MMRI Chairman and Executive Director, Dr. Edward Amento, is quick to point out, MMRI is not an incubator, but rather, a research institution, “a miniature Stanford, except that we allow our affiliate scientists to keep their IP.”

In addition to accessing shared equipment and supplies, MMRI “affiliates” (as opposed to “tenants”) can contract with MMRI’s staff of scientific experts for specific research. Amento states, “We’ve set this up so that affiliates can come to MMRI and start their research on the same day.” Affiliates can also access expertise from MMRI’s advisory board of patent agents, CEOs, VCs, and other professionals and receive grant-writing assistance. The Bio-Rad Demonstration Room serves as a core demonstration laboratory for the latest equipment and compliments some of MMRI’s premier equipment offerings. Affiliates have access to fully equipped microscopy suites, tissue culture rooms, medicinal chemistry and analytical chemistry facilities, a radiation laboratory, as well as a fully staffed animal research facility and will also be able to make use of a CLIA-certified laboratory beginning this fall.

With a background that includes Yale, Harvard and Stanford and two startup companies, Dr. Amento is passionate about supporting translational research at MMRI. As the number of investors supporting pre-clinical research continues to lessen, MMRI’s low-cost resource-sharing environment is allowing more startups get to proof of concept. This translates into a dynamic innovative culture of scientists engaged in novel research. In 19 years of operation, the Institute has spun out 62 companies, with five IPO’s, 14 M&A’s, 8 licensed programs, over 20 clinical programs and 10 NDA’s, and has counted among its affiliates Raven Biotech, Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Applied Genomics, Avalanche Biotech and the Myelin Repair Foundation. For more information, contact Ed Amento at: