What is Arcadia?

An update on our vision at the two-year mark of our experiment.

15 Aug 2023

Last month, Arcadia turned two. It’s been a wild ride. It doesn’t feel so long ago that we were huddled in a small warehouse space putting together our first website, learning how to incorporate. 

As we’ve been iterating, the question we get most often is “what are you?” After much pivoting and even more Cheez-its, we now have a much clearer answer for you. Arcadia is a for-profit startup incubator with our own research platform that leverages evolutionary biology for discovery. 

Don’t worry, we still love weird organisms. In fact, our shared in-house platform is a suite of technologies built by our scientists who are fully devoted to figuring out how we find the right weird organisms to inspire new inventions. We believe that comparing species across the tree of life can speed up our ability to deploy impactful solutions in therapeutics. We’re making this process replicable, scalable, and useful by incubating our own homegrown startups. 

Our setup has similarities to existing venture creation studios, including some aspects of how to strategize and operationalize biotech startups. We don’t need to fully reinvent the wheel here, and we’re lucky to be able to learn from their successes.

But there are important differences that make us unique. 

Fundamentally, Arcadia is a science-first company. We were founded by and for scientists, so that we can figure out new ways to sustain the kind of research we’d like to see more of in the world. We are very process-oriented and see knowledge as one of our products, in addition to successful startups. You can gauge our priorities by how we share our work.

Although we have two key external investors, we are also scientist-owned. Arcadians have shares in our company, and the way we distribute them is informed by our understanding of the full research lifecycle. Whether someone is de-risking early ideas, pouring plates, engineering tools, editing publications, or incubating startups — it’s all needed for scientific innovation. This is reflected in our profit-sharing approach.

Arcadia’s translational portfolio is also driven by our scientific process. We are trying to maximize the return-on-investment for our research by applying it to important, real-world challenges. The odds of success increase if scientists have enough context to think concretely about where their science is useful. It breeds a different kind of creativity. We therefore teach all of our scientists about market opportunities and bottlenecks. They are investors too, after all.

In short, we want to create a scientist’s vision of entrepreneurship at Arcadia. We are training and ramping up hiring to enable all of this. We are building an invention factory with scientists, engineers, builders, and entrepreneurs who can execute this very ambitious vision. Check out our new wave of job ads to see if this might be you too.

We know we have our work cut out for us, but we are intent on giving it our all to make the most of this opportunity. Our goal is to reach financial self-sustainment within the next 10 years. Having said that, we hope to one day report that our science-centric mindset yielded a strategy that was even more profitable than we could have imagined and also shaped how others approach their science. We are scientists and optimists, and this is our bet.


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