Cool Company Spotlight: Defined Bioscience

Jul 26, 2022

Welcome To The Cool Companies Spotlight: Defined Bioscience

The Class of 2022 Cool Companies is absolutely stellar and we are excited to share them with you. This spotlight series provides the opportunity to learn more about each company from their founders, CEO’s, or Presidents. We will provide you a glimpse into the incredible innovation and talent being cultivated in San Diego.

The fourth spotlight in the series is dedicated to Defined Bioscience.

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Defined Bioscience is a San Diego-based startup focused on making robust, fully-defined, high-quality ingredients for stem cell culture, with applications in the life science, biopharmaceutical, and cultured meat sectors. Defined was founded in 2019 by an academic and industrial team of protein and cell engineers exploiting recent advances in stem cell and iPSC derived cell lines and organoids. Our mission is to efficiently identify and advance the key ingredients, tools and services required for research and development of cell-based assays, biopharma production, therapies, and cultivated meat. Our initial product development pipeline focuses on tools and reagents that provide cost-effective, reproducible stem-cell culture to allow for improved stem cell-based assays. Precisely and consistently differentiating stem cells into specific tissues or organoids provides exciting and unexploited opportunities to develop new drugs and therapies addressing significant unmet medical needs. In addition, we are collaborating with several Pharma and Biotech companies to couple our strengths and experience in protein production and specialized stem cell related media formulations with our partners’ demonstrated drug development expertise, and applying the same model to cultivated meat industry partners to advance the future of cellular agriculture, with lower-cost, high-performing reagents for food-grade cell production.

What’s your most satisfying entrepreneur moment so far?

“I would say it’s a close tie between receiving our first major grant, which helped us to establish our new laboratory, and hearing from our first customers about how well our products have helped them in their research. To see something you’ve made out in the field and making a difference is phenomenal.”

Steven Rees, PhD

Co-Founder & CEO, Defined Bioscience


What inspired you to start this company?

The founders of Defined saw a clear need for defined medium formulations that were more functional and cost-effective. We came together with our expertise in cellular biology, stem cell technologies, and protein engineering to make this happen, while also creating next-generation tools that make stem cell research more approachable and streamlined for new and established researchers.


What's the best entrepreneurial advice you've received?

To just do it! The hardest step in starting a new company is the first one. Building a company is a lot of work, but it’s very fulfilling to go from even a vague concept to something real.


Where would we find you out and about in San Diego?

I’m a big reader, so if there’s a local park or beach, you’ll probably find me there with a book. I also enjoy checking out San Diego’s many local breweries (I’m a big fan of Pure Project). I enjoy fixing up “ancient” science equipment (one side of my garage is getting full of stuff) and, when time allows, fencing at local clubs (foil by training).


Why is your company the best solution to the problem you're solving?

Defined Bioscience focuses on fully-defined formulations, meaning we don’t use undefined, variable reagents like FBS. Our products are also animal-free, which is important for both the life science and cellular agriculture spaces. Finally, our B8 cell medium is sold as a supplement of growth factors, meaning you can make B8 in-house using your choice of DMEM/F12 for optimal growth conditions (including phenol-red-free forms for applications sensitive to that).


What is the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?

Not taking on too many projects at once. Our team stems (no pun intended!) from the academic world, and it is easy to lose focus with so many interesting projects to research. It’s important for a new company to focus on projects that add value to the company and leverage the team’s strengths.


If you could be any superhero which would it be and why?

Definitely Dr. Strange. If I could create a portal to travel instantaneously around the world, while also reading in a spirit form while my body rests, that would open up a lot of opportunities!

Here at Connect our mission is to help San Diego’s incredible startup companies grow and succeed. We hope you enjoyed reading The Cool Company Spotlight. Stay tuned for more upcoming spotlights!