WIKIMEDIA, SUI-SETZPlants genetically modified to glow in the dark just got one step closer to becoming a household reality. Glowing Plant, a fledgling synthetic biology company that intends to sell Arabidopsis thaliana and rose seeds that will grow glowing plants, has been backed by Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that makes small investments in a large number of startups every year. Glowing Plant made more than $450,000 last year with a campaign on Kickstarter. The move marks an incursion into the life science space for Y Combinator, which has thus far invested in web and tech companies rather than in biotechs.
Glowing Plant’s CEO Antony Evans told TechCrunch that Y Combinator saw a viable investment in his company in part due to plummeting costs surrounding genome sequencing and gene manipulation technologies. “The rise of the affordable biotech company is what’s driving [Y Combinator’s] interest in the space,” he said. “Costs are coming down tremendously fast.”
In the midst of its Kickstarter campaign, Glowing Plant was criticized by environmental groups that opposed the project due to a perceived lack of regulatory oversight.