Breakout Labs

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Breakout Labs
FounderPeter Thiel
Headquarters1 Letterman Drive,
ParentThiel Foundation

Breakout Labs is a grant-making body operating as part of the Thiel Foundation (a philanthropic organization created by Peter Thiel). Breakout Labs gives grants for early-stage scientific research that is too speculative or long-term to interest the for-profit sector (such as angel investors and venture capitalists) but may be unsuitable for traditional sources of funding for scientific research due to its radical or offbeat nature.[1] Grants are made through a competitive application and selection process.[2]


Breakout Labs announced its first batch of grantees on April 17, 2012,[3] its second batch of grantees on August 15, 2012,[4] and its third batch of grantees in April 2013.[5] The full list of grantees is on the Breakout Labs website.[6]

2012 Recipients[edit]

The first group of grants were given out in 2012. The recipients were:

2013 Recipients[edit]

  • Entopsis - is developing a medical diagnostic platform capable of diagnosing numerous diseases through urine... without DNA analysis or expensive equipment
  • Pareto Biotechnologies

2014 Recipients[edit]

  • Cortexyme - is developing therapeutics to treat Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Epibone - is creating a stem cell based treatment that allows patients to “grow their own bone”.
  • E3XBio
  • G-tech - is developing diagnostic for GI disorders based on myoelectric data from the digestive organs.


Shifting the focus to innovation[edit]

Peter Thiel has proposed a dichotomy between:

  • Intensive growth, which involves the creation of radical new technology. He likens this to "going from zero to one".
  • Extensive growth, which involves spreading existing technology to more people and making it faster, cheaper, and better. Globalization is an example of extensive growth. Thiel likens extensive growth to "going from 1 to N".

Thiel believes that too many people in business and philanthropy are focused on extensive growth and there is too little focus on intensive growth. Thiel thus concentrates most of his philanthropic efforts on efforts that he considers likely to lead to intensive growth, i.e., radical innovation.[8][9] Breakout Labs is part of these efforts. Many of these themes are also covered in his similarly titled book Zero to One.

Media coverage[edit]

The announcement of Breakout Labs (October 2011), as well as the announcements of its first batch of grantees (April 2012), received considerable media attention.[10] The first and second batches of grantees were covered by TechCrunch.[11][12] Breakout Labs was also covered in Nature[13] and Scientific American.[14]


  1. ^ "About Us page on Breakout Labs". Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  2. ^ "FAQs page on Breakout Labs". Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  3. ^ "Breakout Labs Announces First Grantees". Breakout Labs. 2012-04-17. Archived from the original on 2012-06-16. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  4. ^ "Thiel Foundation's Breakout Labs Announces Newest Grants at the Intersection of Biology and Advanced Technologies". Breakout Labs. 2012-08-15. Archived from the original on 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  5. ^ Cutler, Kim-Mai (2013-04-17). "Peter Thiel's Breakout Labs Funds "Nanostraws" And A Siri-Like Natural Language Processing Startup". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
  6. ^ "Recipients page on Breakout Labs website". Archived from the original on 2012-10-06.
  7. ^ Inside The Immortality Business "Arigos is one of the projects backed by Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs"
  8. ^ Peter Thiel on intensive versus extensive growth
  9. ^ Peter Thiel's closing remarks at the Breakthrough Philanthropy conference
  10. ^ "News page on Breakout Labs website". Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  11. ^ Tsotsis, Alexia (2012-04-17). "Peter Thiel's Breakout Labs Awards $350K Each To Six Ambitious Biotech Startups". TechCrunch.
  12. ^ Cutler, Kim-Mai (2012-08-15). "Breakout Labs Grantees". TechCrunch.
  13. ^ "PayPal co-founder's Breakout Labs issues first grants".
  14. ^ "Breakout Labs – a new model for funding science and technology".

External links[edit]