“Our expanded investment recognizes the success that BenchSci has had not only developing its novel technology, but also growing adoption in both academia and industry."—Darian Shirazi, General Partner at Gradient Ventures, Google's AI-focused venture fund.
TORONTO (PRWEB) June 25, 2019
BenchSci today announced additional investment from Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, that brings the company’s total funding to CAD $27.2 million (USD $20.5 million). BenchSci will use the additional investment to expand its office and team to meet growing demand from pharmaceutical companies for its biomedical AI technology, which empowers scientists to run more successful experiments to accelerate drug discovery.
“Last May, BenchSci was proud to become Gradient Ventures’ first investment outside of the US,” says Liran Belenzon, CEO, BenchSci. “At the time, we had just started selling our technology to pharmaceutical companies. Since then, we’ve seen incredible demand, with the majority of top-10 pharmaceutical companies now licensing BenchSci for their scientists to bring drugs to patients faster. Recognizing this demand, we're pleased to say that Gradient Ventures has provided further resources to meet it.”
While AI has long held promise for drug discovery, and hundreds of startups are applying the technology in this area, practical use cases and real-world impact are harder to find. BenchSci’s technology, on the other hand, provides a turnkey, customer-validated solution to an industry-wide problem: the failure of scientific experiments that can delay drug discovery projects by weeks to months, often due to the selection of inappropriate reagents.
BenchSci’s first product is its AI-assisted antibody selection platform, which addresses the roughly 50% of research antibodies that simply don’t work in experiments. Using unparalleled data sources along with proprietary biologist-trained machine learning models and bioinformatics ontologies, this platform allows scientists to select the right antibodies for their experiments 24x faster than current methods, while reducing the rate of antibody failure by half or more. BenchSci has demonstrated using its customers’ own purchasing data that this turnkey solution saves them millions of dollars on unnecessary antibody purchases, liberates tens of thousands of scientist hours for research, and shortens drug discovery projects.
“BenchSci is a phenomenal example of the positive impact that AI can have on life science and healthcare,” says Darian Shirazi, General Partner at Gradient Ventures. “Our expanded investment recognizes the success that BenchSci has had not only developing its novel technology, but also growing adoption in both academia and industry. Given the amount of data consumed and generated in drug discovery, AI can play a huge role in improving research productivity. We believe BenchSci is poised to lead the industry in using AI to empower bench scientists to run more successful experiments.”
With the additional investment, BenchSci has expanded its office in Toronto’s Little Italy neighborhood and expanded its recruiting efforts. These include recruiting a global salesforce and growing its Toronto-based team, especially engineers who are passionate about using the latest big data, machine learning, and user interface technologies to develop innovative products that accelerate scientific research and help patients get new treatments faster. (For open positions, please see https://benchsci.bamboohr.com/jobs/.)
“We consider ourselves incredibly lucky,” says Belenzon. “Our scientists experienced a large and meaningful problem in their labs, we leveraged emerging advanced technology to solve it, grew a team with passion and expertise to build it, received backing from the world’s leading investors to scale it, and hear every day from customers how much they love it. With our additional funding, we aim to tackle other important problems in life science with more advanced technology, and be a magnet in Toronto for passionate people who believe in our mission and want to make a positive impact through their work.”
In addition to Gradient Ventures, BenchSci’s Series A was led by Inovia Capital with the participation of existing investors Real Ventures, Golden Ventures, and Afore Capital.
Backed by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, and built by life scientists for life scientists, BenchSci is the world leader in AI-assisted antibody selection. With a 50% failure rate, inappropriate antibodies waste millions of research dollars and delay novel therapies by months. BenchSci’s AI solves this problem by continuously reading biomedical papers like a PhD biologist to understand which antibodies have been successfully used in which experiments. Unlike traditional antibody search tools, BenchSci extracts antibody specifications from published experiments with proprietary, antibody-specific machine learning models built from data labeled in-house by PhD biologists; applies sophisticated bioinformatics and ontologies to link antibodies with experimental contexts; enables rapid selection of experiment-specific antibodies using unique filters within an intuitive, figure-centric user interface; unlocks the value of scientific figures with proprietary image recognition technology; and increases confidence in antibody selection with unbiased, objective, independent validation data. This reduces the cost of consumables and increases the impact of scientific research for more than 26,000 scientists at more than 2,000 academic institutions and 15 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies that trust BenchSci to guide their experiment design.
ABOUT GRADIENT VENTURES
Gradient Ventures is Google’s AI-focused venture fund—investing in and connecting early-stage startups with Google’s resources, innovation, and technical leadership in artificial intelligence. The fund focuses on helping founders navigate the challenges in developing AI-based products, allowing companies to take advantage of the latest techniques so that great ideas can come to life. Gradient was founded in 2017 and is based in Palo Alto, California. For more information, visit http://www.gradient.com.