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Ionis Innovation

The Ion-ARPA initiative

Ion-ARPA is an initiative that is modeled on the U.S. Department of Defense program known as DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Ion ARPA’s focus and objective is the identification and acceleration of disruptive next-wave innovations with the potential to significantly advance the development of novel therapeutic technologies. Ion-ARPA programs will be funded (up to $1M per laboratory) based on high-risk/high-reward breakthrough scientific concepts. The Ion-ARPA program is designed to support the Ionis Innovation long term strategy to create cutting-edge technologies capable of pioneering new markets and radically improve the standards of care for disease treatment.

The Ion-ARPA program is currently funding investigators at nearly 20 Universities across the world including:

Harvard University/MGH
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
UC San Diego (2 projects)
UC Santa Barbara
Queen Mary University of London
UC Riverside
University of Waterloo
University of Pennsylvania
Northwestern University
University of Massachusetts Amherst
UMass Chan Medical School
University of Delaware
University of Queensland
UC Santa Barbara
Technical University of Munich
University of Buckingham

“The Ion-ARPA program supports the dialogue to frame big problems as solvable, apply key resources and encourages teams to meet biotechnology’s greatest challenges.”

– David Ecker

Funding Announcements

Ongoing Opportunities

Seedling Proposals

Proposals to obtain proof of principle for an extraordinarily novel idea to create a new platform technology for therapeutics can be considered for funding up to $300,000 (total) on a rolling basis at any time. Please see the opportunities described below as examples of projects we have a high interest in funding. Please use the standard white paper template and submit to [email protected]


Previous Opportunities

Novel Ways to Regulate Gene Expression (June 2022)

Payload Delivery (March 2022) – Investigators funded across 11 Institutions including: UC San Diego, Northwestern University, Scripps Research Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, UMass Chan Medical School, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, University of Delaware, University of Queensland, Queen Mary University of London.

Quantum Biology (January 2021) – Investigators funded across 6 Institutions including: UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, University of Waterloo, Technical University of Munich, University of Pennsylvania, University of Buckingham.


How the Program Works

Ion-ARPA will announce areas of interest and solicit requests for proposals (RFPs). The RFPs will pose specific technological challenges and outline what is expected from proposal solicitations.  Programs are intended to run for two years to test bold ideas, with the potential to continue if encouraging results are obtained. This program provides an opportunity to obtain funding to explore truly original ideas considered too risky to be funded from traditional sources.

Proposers are required to submit a short white paper (white paper template).  Selected white papers will be invited to submit a full proposal (full proposal template). Invited full proposals will be required to have a structure and content similar to those submitted to other funding agencies, e.g. DARPA, NIH, NSF, BARDA, BMGF, and contain a scientific explanation for the proposed concept, goals, measurable milestones and timelines (see template below).  Programs will be actively managed and require monthly updates and quarterly reviews. White papers and full proposals will be reviewed confidentially by Ion-ARPA scientific staff and confidentially by selected scientific advisors to the company.


Intellectual Property

The awardees will retain ownership of intellectual property created during performance of the program. In exchange for its funding, Ionis will receive a paid-up non-exclusive license and first option to negotiate for an exclusive license.

Inquiries and white papers should be sent to  [email protected]

White Paper Template»                

Full Proposal Tem   plate»