Life Science Washington Institute Announces 2023 Entrepreneurial Achievement Award Winner


Life Science Washington Institute (LSWI), a Life Science Washington affiliate focused on supporting early-stage companies and entrepreneurs in Washington state, announced Dr. David Younger, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of A-Alpha Bio, as the winner of the Entrepreneurial Achievement Award. Established in 2020, the award celebrates the significant accomplishments of founding leaders from Washington-based life science companies who are reaching milestones, driving innovation, fulfilling unmet needs and/or raising substantial funding. Younger follows in the footsteps of previous winners Dr. Erwin Berthier and Dr. Ben Casavant, Tasso founders, and Dr. Jesse Salk, TwinStrand Bioscience co-founder.

Younger, 2019 graduate of the LSWI Washington Innovation Network (WIN) program, teamed up with Randolph Lopez five years ago to co-found A-Alpha Bio, a company aimed at improving human health by unlocking the potential of protein-protein interactions. After developing the technology in the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design lab under Dr. David Baker, Younger spun out the company and continues to grow it in terms of both fundraising and headcount. To date, the company has secured more than $51 million and has 46 employees.

“Since WIN graduate A-Alpha Bio was formed in 2017, David has continued to lead it to new highs,” said Richard Giersch, Executive Director of Life Science Washington Institute. “In 2023 the company moved into new space, expanded existing collaborations, and added several significant new ones including partners such as Gilead, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Amgen. And just for good measure, they raised an additional $22.4 million. A spectacular round of accomplishments for a year that isn’t over yet! I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the award this year.”

Younger, co-inventor of the company’s AlphaSeq platform, is bringing his research to life by merging machine learning with biology to, among other things, measure millions of protein interactions with the promise of discovering and improving high impact drugs. The scientists David has brought together at A-Alpha Bio work in the rapidly growing convergence space of biology and computer science with nearly half the employees holding Ph.D.s. A-Alpha Bio, headquartered in Belltown, Seattle, makes the most of Washington’s unique life science ecosystem, where computer scientists work side by side with biologists to discover cures for our most intractable diseases.

A-Alpha Bio’s proactive funding comes from local funders like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Madrona Ventures, in addition to grants provided by The National Science Foundation. With dedicated capital investments spanning both science and technology, Younger has captured the interest of industry leaders that run the gamut between science powerhouse Bristol-Myers Squibb and tech giant Google.

“Winning the 2023 Entrepreneurial Achievement Award is an enormous honor for Randolph and me — and for the entire A-Alpha Bio team,” Younger said. “Recognition from our local life science community is particularly meaningful to us. Building A-Alpha in Seattle has been an incredible experience, largely due to the tremendous support from other local founders, biotech leaders, VCs, and institutions like Life Science Washington Institute. We’ve come a long way since our then-two-person company participated in LSWI’s WIN Mentoring Program, but we still have a long journey ahead of us and it’s amazing to have the continued support.”

Moving forward, A-Alpha Bio plans to focus its efforts on building its internal pipeline of immunocytokines and molecular glues, foster pharmaceutical partnerships and develop its machine learning platform, AlphaBind.

Hear more from A-Alpha Bio and other WIN participants in a Life Science Washington video: