The first batch of Y Combinator-backed life science companies made their pitches at the incubator's Demo Day this week. And with one of the startups already bagging $4.5 million from angel investors, Y Combinator is optimistic it can continue to expand into healthcare.
Clinverse and Comprehend have raised a total of $30.1 million in separate Series C and B financing rounds, giving both companies the cash to push ahead with their expansion plans.
Digital health investor Rock Health has added 8 startups to its portfolio, bringing the number of active companies in its network up to 55. And with one of the startups focusing on life science R&D and Abbott among its new corporate partners, the incubator has strengthened its ties to drug development.
The website for Google's antiaging startup Calico has gone live, but details of the venture remain scarce.
Over the past year a clutch of startups have talked up their ability to automate aspects of R&D by matching software to robotic technologies. But the ambitions of some groups go well beyond these examples, with researchers aiming to create robo-chemists.
While Google-backed personal genetics startup 23andMe is still working through its disagreements with the FDA, the company has impressed another part of the federal machine enough to win funding.
After weeks of increasingly confident media speculation, Google has confirmed it is setting up an outpost of its venture capital wing in Europe. And with a brief to follow a similar strategy to the U.S. team that invested in Flatiron Health, DNAnexus and other biotech IT startups, the $100 million fund is a new source of capital for European life science innovators.
Over the past few years, Google has expanded into life sciences, with venture capital investments, the creation of Calico and development of "smart" contact lenses giving it multiple beachheads in the industry. But the search giant's co-founders have reservations about getting deep into healthcare, saying regulations make it a "painful" sector in which to work.
When Y Combinator expanded into biotech, the startup incubator was effectively betting on the idea that IT has narrowed the gap between timelines and economics in life sciences and tech. The Wall Street Journal is the latest publication to profile the scene, picking out a batch of companies with similar models and ambitions to those featured by TechCrunch and FierceBiotechIT earlier this year.
Having backed biotech IT businesses like Comprehend Systems and SV Bio in the U.S., high-profile venture firm Sequoia Capital has turned its attention to India. And with a $530 million fund to fuel its ambitions, the California-based VC shop could kick-start the tech and healthcare startup ecosystem in India and across Southeast Asia.