The First Fund investment program was launched March 2019 by the Delaware Innovation Space (DIS) — a science startup accelerator created in 2017 through a partnership between DuPont, the University of Delaware and the State of Delaware — as an opportunity for early-stage science startups to gain access to the IRL and programmatic resources at DIS, located at the Experimental Station in suburban Wilmington.
Through 2019, startups could receive up to $75,000 in funding in the form of a 36-month convertible note (a loan that converts to equity in a company in conjunction with an upcoming financing round) to be used exclusively to access DIS resources such as wet lab space, including startup-friendly lab pods; equipment; and business incubation.
Now DIS, which received $3 million in funding from from the National Development Council last spring, is doubling down: Science startups accepted into the First Fund program can now receive up to $150,000, with $75,000 awarded in cash and $75,000 awarded in DIS services. The exact investment amount an individual startup is eligible for will be determined by several factors, primarily the scalability and growth potential of the startup.
Some of the growing companies that are currently or formerly part of the DIS accelerator include Prelude Therapeutics, Incyte, Napigen and W7Energy, which received, among other grants, $3.4 million from the Department of Energy in 2019.
Early-stage science startups can apply for the First Fund investment program by Jan. 31 here.