Despite the economic situation and political climate in 2022, such fields as drug discovery and biotech keep evolving and bringing vital solutions to challenges of the time drawing the attention of venture capitalists (VCs). In this piece let's focus specifically on artificial intelligence (AI)-driven biotech and drug discovery companies which managed to attract investors and raise notable rounds in 2022.
Mid-June Goldman Sachs took an unusual turn, leading a $300 M round for a Beijing-based startup MegaRobo Technologies known for its muscle power on CRISPR gene editing while promising to combine the power of artificial intelligence and robotics to redefine lab efficiency in creating new drugs with clients. According to CSO at MegaRobo Wang Chengzhi stated that "this financing round will help MegaRobo further strengthen its closed-loop solutions in ‘Automation + Artificial Intelligence + Life Sciences,’ and build the next-generation life sciences infrastructure featuring intelligent automation.”
In March 2022 ConcerAI, the leading enterprise in AI and real-world data (RWD) solutions for life sciences and healthcare, announced the close of its $150 M Series C investment from Sixth Street at a $1.9 B valuation. Over the last 3 years, the company has expanded its customer base and partnerships to more than 45 life sciences companies and contract research organizations (CROs) with SaaS solutions across the product lifecycle: supporting approximately 40 new product launches, improving time on therapy by 10%, and reducing time for study design and projected clinical trial execution times up to 25%.
An Israeli startup Viz.ai raised $100 M at $1.2 B valuation becoming the country’s newest unicorn. The company develops an AI-powered disease detection and care coordination platform which is already in use in over 1,000 hospitals, serving millions of patients. Over the past year, Viz.ai launched AI-driven solutions for aortic disease, pulmonary embolism, and cerebral aneurysms. The Israeli firm dominated the stroke detection and triage market with the de novo FDA clearance of its stroke module and was the first AI software to receive approval from CMS for NTAP (New Technology Add-on Payment).
In August AI-driven drug discovery company Insilico Medicine closed its Series D2 round, bringing the total Series D financing to $95 million led by Prosperity7, the diversified growth fund of Aramco Ventures, which is an investment subsidiary of Aramco, the world's leading integrated energy and chemicals company. Among other investors in this round one could find B Capital Group, Warburg Pincus, BHR Partners, Qiming Venture Partners, Deerfield, Pavilion Capital, BOLD Capital Partners, WS Investment Company, and Insilico’s founder and CEO, Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD.
This Massachusetts-based startup focused on precision medicine has closed a $83 M Series A funding round, combined with a new Series B financing. The funding was led by Amgen Ventures, along with Amplitude Ventures, Catalio Capital and several others. This was not the only breakthrough for Celsius in 2022 - the company has picked its first clinical candidate, an antibody treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) called CEL383. So the funding comes right on time as the company is planning to apply for an investigational new drug approval from the FDA, with eyes on a phase 1 trial for CEL383 at the beginning of next year.
BigHat Biosciences, a biotech startup developing safer, more effective antibody therapies for patients using machine learning and synthetic biology, today announced it has raised a $75 million Series B funding round, led by Section 32, with participation from Amgen Ventures, Bristol Myers Squibb, Quadrille Capital, Gaingels, and GRIDS Capital, among others. BigHat’s AI-enabled antibody design platform, Milliner, offers the essential technologies to quickly and reliably create these breakthrough therapies.
Deepcell, a life science company pioneering AI-powered single cell classification and isolation for basic and translational research, closed its $73 M Series B round of financing in March. The new funding will allow Deepcell to continue product development and enable early commercial introduction of a new standard for obtaining biological insights from single cell analysis. Deepcell’s platform combines advances in AI, proprietary microfluidics, high resolution optics, and a growing cell atlas with over 1 billion images to analyze and sort cells based on visual features. This allows researchers to characterize and gain new insights from single cells at levels of resolution previously unseen with other “omics” based tools.
This round was led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and joined by new investors including Bridger Healthcare, Horizons Ventures, Casdin Capital and lead investors from previous rounds, Andreessen Horowitz and Bow Capital as well as Jeff Dean, Head of Google Brain, and Matt Mcllwain, Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group. Now the overall funding of the startup has reached nearly $100 M since the company was founded in 2017.
A Californian biotechnology company propelling drug discovery into the information age Terray Therapeutics in February announced the closing of a $60 million Series A financing to advance its novel tNova platform and deliver therapies to patients faster. The financing was led by Madrona Venture Group with participation from a broad syndicate of new and existing investors, including Two Sigma Ventures, Digitalis Ventures, KdT Ventures, Goldcrest Capital, XTX Ventures, Sahsen Ventures, Greentrail Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments.
In June 2022 CHARM Therapeutics, London-based company applying AI to model complex protein interactions, locked $50 M in series A round, led by F-Prime Capital and OrbiMed with participation from General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Braavos, Axial, and Grep VC. When a protein meets a compatible binder or ligand, it can transform completely, since small changes can cascade and reconfigure its entire structure — in life this leads to things like a protein opening a passage into a cell or exposing a new surface that activates other proteins, and so on. The company developed the DragonFold algorithm to predict protein-ligand co-folding. Charm’s early-stage funding was used to build the model, and now they are indending to use series A funds to move on to the next step: positive identification of effective medications.
Canadian biotech BenchSci, a company focused on AI-assisted antibody selection, has secured around $50 M in third-round financing led by TCV and Inovia, raising its total amount of funds to $97 M. The money will be used to speed up the adoption of BenchSci’s AI-powered platform for biomedical research internationally.
An American biopharmaceutical company Auron Therapeutics focused on developing therapies that target dysregulated differentiation and cellular plasticity for treating cancer, announced the completion of its $48 M Series A financing round in August. The financing round was led by DCVC Bio with additional support from new and already existing investors, leading the the total raised $61.4M funding at the moment. Proceeds will be used to advance the lead program toward clinical development and drive additional programs into drug discovery. Part of the funds raised in this round will also be used to expand the proprietary, machine learning-based computational platform, AURigin, that is used to identify novel drug targets, and add personnel to support and accelerate research and development.
Creyon Bio, a San Diego NC-based drug development company, raised $40M in Seed and Series A funding round led by DCVC Bio and Lux Capital, with participation from Casdin Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, and BioBrit.
Creyon Bio is a drug development company engineering RNA-based medicines and their components (oligonucleotide-based medicines or OBMs) with predictable safety and efficacy profiles. The company creates proprietary, purpose-built datasets that inform ML models, rapidly identifying the design rules and engineering principles for safe and effective OBMs.
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Topics: Biotech Companies