Atomwise Inc. today announced it has raised $6 million in seed funding from five leading, science-focused venture capital firms: Data Collective, which led the funding, Khosla Ventures, DFJ, AME Cloud Ventures, and OS Fund. “Having any one of these investors behind Atomwise would be remarkable,” said Co-founder and CEO, Dr. Abraham Heifets. “Having all five is an incredible vote of confidence for Atomwise’s drug discovery technology and business.”
Atomwise develops artificial intelligence systems for drug discovery. Its groundbreaking drug research technology learns like a human chemist, using powerful deep learning algorithms and supercomputers to analyze millions of potential medicines each day.
“We back teams that are transforming industries with algorithmic advantage, where years of effort, and billions of dollars in capex and opex can be saved with disruptive technology” said Matt Ocko, Managing Partner of Data Collective. “Simulating billions of virtual medicines to find potential commercial candidates in weeks? That’s what we call truly transformative.”
Like software used to design airplanes and computer chips in simulation, Atomwise can help predict the effectiveness of new medicines, reducing the need for costly and time-consuming physical synthesis and testing. To date, Atomwise has been applied to research on more than a dozen disease targets including infectious diseases, neurological diseases, and cancers.
“We fund revolutionary scientific endeavors,” said Vinod Khosla, Founder of Khosla Ventures. “A team that is fighting leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Ebola, malaria, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria – simultaneously – is such an endeavor.”
“DFJ has invested in the leading companies in space, energy, and quantum computing. Atomwise has the potential to be as significant for medicine,” added Andreas Stavropoulos, Partner at DFJ.
The seed funding round caps off Atomwise’s participation in Y Combinator, the elite Silicon Valley startup accelerator. Within Y Combinator, Atomwise dramatically expanded its drug discovery projects, announcing collaborations with Merck, Notable Labs, and Harvard Medical School. At Y Combinator’s Demo Day, Atomwise also announced the preliminary results of its Ebola drug repurposing project, which found that two known-safe medicines may be effective against the virus.
“Atomwise’s data-driven approach and technology could help address the health crises of our time and improve the lives of millions,” added Jerry Yang, Founding Partner of AME Ventures. “Their vision for a healthier world is inspiring. ” Because Atomwise can explore chemical space so quickly and affordably, it is well-suited to help fight difficult or neglected diseases which might otherwise be economically infeasible to address.
With Atomwise’s rapid growth comes opportunities for organizations seeking new medicines to work with the company. Atomwise is now inviting proposals for drug discovery collaborations from both private and public institutions. The company is also actively recruiting in the areas of machine learning, computational biology, medicinal chemistry, business development, sales, marketing, and partnerships.
Bryan Johnson, Founder of OS Fund, concluded, “Atomwise is rewriting the operating system of drug discovery, which will have far-ranging implications for healthcare.”