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May 24th, 2023

Harvard’s Wyss Institute and Collaborative Fund cofound research lab to fund technology to combat climate change

Collaborative Fund commits $15 million to create a Laboratory for Sustainable Materials Research and Innovation at the Wyss Institute

Earth graphic

Collaborative Fund and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering are pleased to announce the launch of a research and innovation alliance focused on new, sustainable materials to fight climate change. Credit: Adobe Stock

(BOSTON) — Collaborative Fund and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University are joining forces to launch a research and innovation alliance focused on new, sustainable materials to fight climate change. Collaborative Fund, a New York-based venture fund, is a leading source of capital and strategic support for entrepreneurs, businesses, and protocols pushing the world forward. As part of the alliance, Collaborative Fund will provide $15 million to create a Laboratory for Sustainable Materials Research and Innovation at the Wyss Institute to support research into transformational technology with strong commercial potential.

Harvard’s Office of Technology Development finalized a research alliance agreement in close coordination with Collaborative Fund and the Wyss Institute, establishing a long-term strategic partnership to foster solution-focused discovery efforts in the lab that will bolster the pursuit and growth of Wyss projects that have the potential to solve important unmet environmental problems in the world – particularly projects within the areas of synthetic biology, biomanufacturing, and clean air and water. The vision for the strategic alliance was developed to address two critical problems. First, transformational, breakthrough technologies are needed to reimagine all materials – from textiles and plastics to food and energy – without the use of fossil fuels. Second, there is a funding and information gap that often stymies the most revolutionary technology from reaching commercial scale.

Collaborative Fund has over a decade of experience investing in climate technology and recently launched a dedicated $200M climate fund, Collab SOS, to fuel a more sustainable economy across materials, ingredients, energy, and supply chains. Collaborative Fund has invested in leading climate tech startups including AMP Robotics, Brimstone Energy, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Dandelion Energy, Keel Labs, Kula Bio, Mango Materials, Modern Meadow, Natural Fiber Welding and Quaise Energy, among others.

“This is an exciting opportunity to take a seismic step forward in the fight against climate change. We can’t think of better partners for this initiative than Collaborative Fund, given the team’s deep experience and history backing innovative and impactful companies in climate. We see this as a call-to-arms for our researchers and entrepreneurs working on problems in sustainability, as well as a stimulus for other members of our community who are currently working in medical areas to pivot and apply their know-how in entirely new ways to meet this monumental challenge head-on,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Bioinspired Engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The Wyss Institute has developed a model for innovation, collaboration, and technology translation within academia, breaking historical silos to enable collaborations that cross institutional and disciplinary barriers. The unique translation model spans the full trajectory, from identifying high-value, real-world problems and developing disruptive technology solutions, to refining, optimizing, and validating these technologies so that they are well-positioned for impactful new licensing and start-up opportunities. This novel approach for technology translation within academia has so far yielded over 4,000 patent filings and 115 licensing deals, including 55 new startups.

“The Wyss Institute has an incredible track record of producing a wide range of innovative, solutions-oriented IP. We want to help accelerate the shift from research to real-world impact. When it comes to climate change, there’s no time to waste,” said Sophie Bakalar, partner at Collaborative Fund.

“The Wyss Institute has an incredible track record of producing a wide range of innovative, solutions-oriented IP. We want to help accelerate the shift from research to real-world impact. When it comes to climate change, there’s no time to waste,”

—Sophie Bakalar, partner at Collaborative Fund.

Bakalar will collaborate with the Institute’s Technology Translation Director Angelika Fretzen, Ph.D., to help oversee the Laboratory for Sustainable Materials Research and Innovation and advance the shared vision. In addition to helping to oversee the Laboratory’s program, Bakalar will hold an appointment as a Visiting Scholar at the Wyss Institute, to enhance technology translation through community engagement and education.

Founder of Collaborative Fund, Craig Shapiro, said “we’re eager to team up with the Wyss Institute to create the next generation of sustainable biomaterials that don’t sacrifice quality or creativity.”

This strategic alliance represents a unique collaboration between two storied financial and academic institutions, the goal of which is to sustain the remarkable level of innovation and intellectual property creation that the Wyss Institute has demonstrated since its founding 14 years ago and continue to transfer that innovation into real-world applications to positively impact humanity.

About Wyss Institute

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University (https://wyss.harvard.edu) is a research and development engine for disruptive innovation powered by biologically-inspired engineering with visionary people at its heart. Our mission is to transform healthcare and the environment by developing ground-breaking technologies that emulate the way Nature builds and accelerate their translation into commercial products through formation of startups and corporate partnerships to bring about positive near-term impact in the world. We accomplish this by breaking down the traditional silos of academia and barriers with industry, enabling our world-leading faculty to collaborate creatively across our focus areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, medtech, and sustainability. Our consortium partners encompass the leading academic institutions and hospitals in the Boston area and throughout the world, including Harvard’s Schools of Medicine, Engineering, Arts & Sciences and Design, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana–Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston University, Tufts University, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, University of Zürich, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

About Harvard Office of Technology Development

Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) (https://otd.harvard.edu/) promotes the public good by fostering innovation and translating new inventions made at Harvard University into useful products that are available and beneficial to society. Our integrated approach to technology development comprises sponsored research and corporate alliances, intellectual property management, and technology commercialization through venture creation and licensing. More than 70 startups have launched to commercialize Harvard technologies in the past 5 years, collectively raising more than $2.5 billion in financing. To further bridge the academic-industry development gap, Harvard OTD manages the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator and The Grid, an accelerator in collaboration with the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

About Collaborative Fund

Collaborative is a network of fund managers investing across asset classes, identifying and supporting companies that live at the intersection of for-profit and for-good, and managing over $1B in the aggregate. Collaborative’s venture efforts are known for early investments in companies across food, money, health, and climate — such as Lyft, Sweetgreen, Beyond Meat, WHOOP, Dandelion Energy, and Brimstone. Please visit collabfund.com for more information.

Tags: Collaborations, Technology Translation, Energy, Sustainability, Climate

Press Contact: Kirsten Mabry | (617) 495-4157