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.
The rise of omics data in R&D has increased the overlap between biotech and Silicon Valley-style tech startups, with Flatiron Health's recent $130 million round making it a standout example. This week, SolveBio took its first steps on the path established by Flatiron by raising cash from the co-founder of Paypal other other leading tech investors.
Personal genetics startup 23andMe is reportedly considering expanding overseas to so it can get sales back on track despite its standoff with the FDA.
Google Ventures' reported $100 million investment in oncology Big Data startup Flatiron Health came to fruition this week. And the deal is even bigger than early reports suggested, with Flatiron raising $130 million and buying electronic medical record business Altos Solutions.
When Flatiron Health emerged in 2012 with a mission to improve oncology care, its founder predicted it would either be "a great success or a horrible failure." Now the Big Data startup is reportedly on the cusp of taking a major step towards the better of these two outcomes, with Fortune writing Google's venture capital wing is leading a $100 million financing round.
The Y Combinator startup investment model has already edged onto the fringes of biotech, with the organization itself funding a HIV vaccine and Illumina borrowing ideas from the group for its incubator. Now, the ties are set to get deeper still, with Y Combinator upping its investments in a bid to expand beyond pure-software startups.
In the months since details of Google's Calico last leaked into the public domain, the creation of a new J. Craig Venter company has further increased interest in anti-aging. And while Calico has been out of the headlines, it has continued to build out its anti-aging dream team, with a UCSF geneticist the latest to join.