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Arvind Gupta's Jiu Jitsu Makes Biotech Move at Silicon Valley Speed

He built a powerful system for launching scientific ideas into startups. Can he do it again?

Arvind Gupta seems an unlikely person to lead the renaissance in synthetic biology. Though he studied genetics at UC Santa Barbara, he did not continue that path, and in the two decades before starting the life sciences accelerator IndieBio in San Francisco, he didn't invent a drug or bring one to market, and he wasn't a partner at a venture fund investing in biotech. Yet the most exciting things in biotechnology are happening at the intersection of these two domains: giving postdocs from academia a lab and just enough cash to prove their breakthrough science works.

IndieBio is far from the only life sciences accelerator, but it stands out for its ability to consistently crank out startups that sound like science fiction, with ambitions to save the planet. They make wood without the tree and meat without the cow and plastic out of mushrooms. They make chemicals without making pollution. While IT startups are busy making fitness bands, IndieBio's startups make smart bees and computers with neurons.

Okay, I'm calling it: if you're using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it's become a more and more spammy practice, and if you're doing a lot of guest blogging then you're hanging out with really bad company.

IndieBio is far from the only life sciences accelerator, but it stands out for its ability to consistently crank out startups that sound like science fiction, with ambitions to save the planet. They make wood without the tree and meat without the cow and plastic out of mushrooms. They make chemicals without making pollution. While IT startups are busy making fitness bands, IndieBio's startups make smart bees and computers with neurons.