14 June 2021 – Cambridge Launches Deeptech Labs

The Big Ones

1

There is a lot happening in Cambridge, England. The university might have passed its 800th anniversary earlier in this century but the basics of its operating model to bring the smartest people in the world together to solve its hardest challenges remains intact.

The latest advances include the launch and first cohort for Deeptech Labs (DTL), a new post-seed accelerator aimed at deep technology startups, Honeywell’s quantum computing division’s merger and up to $300m investment in Cambridge Quantum Computing and the potential acquisition of local tech champion Arm by US-based artificial intelligence (AI) chip maker Nvidia following the blow-out flotation of cybersecurity champion Darktrace.

DTL is backed by Arm and the University of Cambridge as well as venture capital firm Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC, the “unicorn factory” at the heart of the city), its chairman Ewan Kirk (founder of hedge fund Cantab Capital Partners), and local industrial conglomerate Marshall’s corporate angel fund, Martlet Capital.

Its inaugural cohort that runs to a demo day on 18 June it has made investments in five machine learning and data science companies: AutoFill, BKwai, Circuit Mind, Contilio and Mindtech.

Zara Riahi, CEO and co-founder of Contilio, said “We are building the world’s first 3D AI analytics platform used by global construction companies and asset owners. To accelerate the next phase of our growth, we were looking for a scaling partner that understood deeptech and had access to the best advisers, deeptech investors, and global operators. The people who have been in the trenches. We are delighted to have found an amazing one in Deeptech Labs.”

These startups receive £350,000 (about $500,000) and a structured three-month development programme, including mentors from Arm, CSR, Imagination Technologies, Analysis, Active Hotels, Arieso, Blinkx, Cloudamize, Focal Point, Riverlane and Ubisense. Its second cohort will start in September and include a delegation of investors from the GCV Symposium being held on 3-4 November.

Miles Kirby, CEO of DTL, who has also been inventor and holder of more than 30 patents and former founder of Allianz-backed AV8 Ventures as well as European managing director of Qualcomm Ventures, said: “This ambitious, new 13-week seed to series A programme is designed to enable deeptech startups to leverage the best minds in this space.”

Andrew Williamson, the managing partner at CIC, added: “Cambridge is one of the best places in the world to build a deeptech business, with access to best-in-class talents, exceptional intellectual property, and experienced entrepreneurs and investors. Deeptech Labs enables a new generation of entrepreneurs to access this ecosystem. As a cofounder, CIC has been delighted to support Miles and his team in shaping the vision. This is a very high quality first cohort and we look forward to working with them in the future and supporting their growth.”

Adam Bastin, vice-president of corporate development at Arm, said: “From Arm’s earliest days in a barn just outside the city, to its position as a global technology leader headquartered here today, Cambridge has remained a critical hub of talent, creativity and innovation. In co-founding Deeptech Labs, we are pleased to support the next generation of game-changing technology companies by helping them to access the world-class Cambridge technology ecosystem.”

2

Tim Haines, managing partner of Abingworth, a biotech venture-capital firm, in the latest Economist said we were in “the golden age of diagnostics”.

What that really seems to mean it is faster and easier than ever before for groups such as Roche and Merck to test and design treatments using genetics and epigenetics. This is leading to more personalised care rather than blockbuster drugs applicable to the masses.

The model works if the insights derived and results delivered can be more profitable, which likely means targeting rich people’s problems and delivering their longevity escape velocity where their life expectancy increases by more than a year for each year they live.

Severin Schwan, Roche’s seventh CEO in 125 years, in an interview with the Economist talked about the “insights” business as a third pillar for Roche—as big, if not bigger, than diagnostics and pharma.

Beyond the social inequality and impact on social services, it also opens up healthcare to consumer-facing technology companies.

As the Economist noted, Roche’s insights business was effectively formed through its acquisitions of Foundation Medicine, a gene-sequencing company that can identify cancers from DNA in blood samples, and Flatiron Health, a specialist in cancer-related health records that generates data on patients from the real world, supplementing clinical trials. Roche valued Flatiron at $2.15bn in its 2018 purchase and closed out the purchaseof the remaining minority shares in Foundation the same year at a $5.3bn valuation.

Both Foundation and Flatiron were backed by GV, formerly known as Google Ventures and a corporate venturing unit for US-listed Alphabet.

GV has made much of its name and returns over the past decade from a string of life sciences and healthcare deals and exits but Carole Nuechterlein, head of Roche Venture Fund at the drugs group’s headquarters in Switzerland, takes much of the credit for the handling of these deals.

Roche had been shareholder in both Flatiron and Foundation before taking control but leaving much autonomy with both groups.

This is the model Roche followed with its $47bn purchase of Genentech back in 2009. As probably the founding biotech – a then-young VC firm in Kleiner Perkins had its partner Bob Swanson close a seed deal over a beer with lead scientist Herb Boyer – Genentech listed in 1980 before eventually falling to Roche and bringing its blockbuster drugs to the Swiss group for greater distribution and up to $21bn in annual sales a decade later.

Now celebrating 20 years running Roche Ventures, Nuechterlein – a prior GCV Powerlist award winner – has seen it all before.

But never at such scale. It is actually a golden age for healthcare not just diagnostics as the century for biology is now firmly underway.

The next GCV Powerlist will be announced on 21 July thanks to partner Dentons as part of the GCV Digital Forum and my thanks to the Global Healthcare Council for its work on the latest quarterly report out next week.

Fund

Alibaba Cloud floats $1bn investment scheme

Fortune VC smiles on $858m first close

Asset manager Alantra has reached the first close at more than €80m ($97m) for its Klima Energy Transition Fund including commitments from Enagás, a Spain-based gas grid operator.

Uncle Nearest drinks to $50m investment vehicle

Coupa creates $50m corporate venturing fund

Recorded Future, a US-based threat intelligence company previously backed by corporate venturing unit REV Venture Partners over the past six years, has set up a $20m fund for early-stage startups.

Recorded Future’s Intelligence Fund will back seed and series A rounds, with its first deals including SecurityTrails and Gemini Advisory.

United Airlines, a US-based flight operator, has started its corporate venturing unit.
United Airlines Ventures will focus on sustainability concepts that support the company’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as other travel-related startups.

Michael Leskinen, United’s vice-president of corporate development and investor relations, will oversee the venture unit as president and incorporate its initial investments in Archer Aviation, Clear and Fulcrum BioEnergy.

Rapyd, a UK-based payments company that earlier in the year closed a $300m round, has set up a corporate venturing unit to invest in early-stage fintech startups.

Rapyd Ventures said its first investment would be in the seed round for Gotrade, a fractional stock trading platform that enables users in over 150 countries to invest in US shares.

Exit

Didi begins IPO proceedings in the US

MissFresh to pay visit to public markets

Monday.com meets Salesforce and Zoom amid $574m IPO

Wallbox opens to $1.5bn reverse merger

1stdibs dives into $115m IPO

Ciox and Datavant converge in $7bn deal

Sinch sets out $1.3bn MessageMedia acquisition

Dave banks on $4bn reverse merger

One Medical eyes $2.1bn Iora acquisition

Marqeta gets to market in $1.2bn IPO

Dingdong Maicai bids for public markets spot

Clear makes space for initial public offering

Babylon agrees $4.2bn reverse merger

Xometry looks to assemble IPO
CVRx looks to pump $75m out of IPO

University

Metacon makes Helbio its own

Deals

Northvolt plugs into $2.75bn

Nubank cashes $750m in series G extension

Klarna claws in $639m

Chubby Bear gets its paws on $400m

Investors entrust Trulioo with $394m

Ledger leaps to $380m series C

Hesai gets handed $300m

ApplyBoard recruits investors for $230m round

Dingdang gets $220m funding delivery

Eightfold AI employs SoftBank for $220m series E

Scalable Capital secures $183m

Monogram Health identifies Humana for $160m round

Verbit eyes public listing amid $157m series D

LetsGetChecked executes $150m series D

Lilly helps inject $108m into Synthekine

MatchMove meets $100m funding

Embroker embraces $100m series C

EcoFlow stores $100m in series B round


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

05 October 2020 – Sophia Genetics Raises $110m Series F

The Big Ones

It was a privilege to hear the insights at the GCV Digital Forum 2.0 yesterday. Combining our regional and sector events, GCV Asia Congress, Synergize and Energy, was always a recipe for some of the world’s leaders to gather and share as well as network. The insights started with Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO of Sony Innovation Fund, as chairman of the Asia stream explain how it had made 10 deals since April through the covid-19 crisis and launched a new fund with an impact focus on the environment. Impact and sustainability was a running theme through the whole agenda, with Sir Ronald Cohen, chairman of the Global Steering Group working on impact investing, giving a keynote and answering questions from attendees about his new book, Impact: Reshaping capitalism to drive real change.

Sir Ronald Cohen’s insights from his second book, Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change, lay out a methodology for adding impact to the usual risk and return decision-making for investing. Here’s a case study example from his keynote to be delivered at the www.GCVDigitalForum.com tomorrow, with a live Q&A with Sir Ronald starting at 12.30pm UK time.

Change is coming. The only question remains how to maximise the impact at a corporation through sophisticated use of open innovation tools, such as corporate venturing, and align them to traditional research and development and mergers and acquisitions. Switzerland-based healthcare insurer CSS Insurance has set up the CHF50m SwissHealth Ventures fund managed by Redstone’s venture capital-as-a-service. Jonathan Fraser, head of venturing at CSS, said it would on focus digital health startups contributing to a high quality and cost-efficient health system.

Sophia Genetics, a Switzerland-based clinical insights platform, has raised $110m in its series F round from a consortium including Hitachi Ventures. It is an interesting deal for Stefan Gabriel, CEO of Hitachi Ventures and GCV Powerlist 100 winner last month. Typically, the $150m Hitachi Ventures programme has targeted early-stage deals in Europe and the US.

Exits

Palantir is arguably Peter Thiel’s most infamous endeavour: the company has been shrouded in secrecy ever since it was founded in 2003 and was often thought to have almost peerless capabilities when it came to big data analytics (capabilities that have landed it some big US government contracts). But its direct listing on the NYSE (which came after six – yes, six – revisions to its SEC filing) was, as Reuters called it, “choppy”. Shares dropped from the $10 opening price to $9.50 and the company ended up with a valuation of $20.6bn – which might seem a good amount, but it was worth $20.3bn five years ago and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars since then. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Morgan Stanley couldn’t get its software to work for Palantir employees to sell shares.

McAfee has had a more eventful history than most. Once upon a time (the olden days of 2011), the company was listed on NYSE before Intel decided to snap up the cybersecurity giant for $7.7bn. To say the shoe didn’t fit might be an understatement: officially rebranding the company to Intel Security in 2014, the operation actually retained its McAfee name and by 2016 had been spun off again through a private equity deal that saw Intel selling a majority stake to TPG Capital, with Thoma Bravo also taking a small shareholding. And now it seems McAfee is ready to yet again trade publicly and has filed for an IPO on Nasdaq – putting that infamous $100m placeholder figure in its draft prospectus and not yet giving away any details on terms. Fun fact: the IPO has gathered a baker’s dozen worth of underwriters – this might be one to watch closely as it unfolds.

JD.com’s healthcare spinoff has filed for an initial public offering after raising more than $1.9bn in equity funding from investors including Hillhouse Capital and Citic Capital.

Tencent is also in line for an exit as Beijing Logicreation Information & Technology, an education services provider, has filed for a RMB1.04bn ($152m) initial public offering on Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s ChiNext board. The company plans on issuing 10 million shares and is targeting a valuation of $586m. Details about Logicreation’s funding are hazy, but DealStreetAsia surfaced a series D round of undisclosed size backed by Tencent Investment in 2017 and a $14m funding round in 2015 backed by Heyi Group. Neither corporate owns more than 5% pre-IPO, however.

Deals

Electric vehicles and grid-scale energy storage are going to be fundamentally necessary parts of a clean energy future, but despite the fact that they generate no emissions once they reach the user they come with a big catch: mining lithium is incredibly destructive to the environment and its effects have been known to pollute rivers and kill wildlife. So, recycling lithium-ion batteries is key if we want to avoid solving one problem (climate change) by creating another (pollution). The recycling process is a relatively new development, but Northvolt is one of the most important players in the space and the company has added $600m to its coffers from Volkswagen, Scania and others to not only reach 150GWh of manufacturing output in Europe by 2030, but also to build a recycling facility that will mean at least 50% of raw materials in its batteries will be from recycled products. VW had already backed a $1bn round last year.

Cazoo, a UK-based online marketplace for used vehicles, has been raising equity at an incredible pace: founded two years ago, it’s amassed $558m in capital and a valuation of $2.5bn thanks to commitments from, among others, repeat investor DMG Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of media group Daily Mail and General Trust. The corporate also participated in Cazoo’s latest deal, a $308m funding round that was co-led by General Catalyst and D1 Capital Partners (which you will have noticed investing a lot of money over the past few weeks – cf. Robinhood, Alkami and Goat).

SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and PICC Group’s PICC Capital joined forces with Morningside to co-lead a $319m series C round for XtalPi that also featured existing backers SIG China, Tencent and China Life. XtalPi, which has built a platform to predict the physicochemical and pharmaceutical properties of small-molecule drug candidates, will use the money to further develop its technology. Its shareholders also include Google and Renren.

Rappi has grown from a delivery service initially focused on drinks to a courier service that delivers pretty much any consumer product you can think of. It even allows users to get cashback. The company has also expanded across nine countries in South America and has raised more than $300m from T. Rowe Price and undisclosed investors. That both is and isn’t a lot of money: SoftBank injected $1bn in May last year, and Rappi’s earlier backers also include Delivery Hero.

SoftBank has contributed to a $225m series D round for VTex, a Brazil-based provider of end-to-end e-commerce services, after the corporate had already led a $140m round last November. VTex is now valued at $1.7bn and its platform is used by international giants such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Walmart to power their online stores – not a bad list of clients for a Brazilian company that hardly any consumer will have ever heard of.

Airwallex has added $40m in a series D extension that brought the round to a $200m close. No word on who the “new and existing” backers of the second tranche are, but ANZi Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Tencent were all among the investors for the $160m initial tranche five months ago. The money will allow Airwallex to chase big plans: add another 100 staff (for a 240-strong headcount) and an expansion into the US, all while doubling down on its existing markets. Airwallex has now obtained some $400m altogether.

Taimei’s software helps life sciences companies manage their clinical trials, including assessing and monitoring adverse effects. It’s added $176m to its coffers in a round co-led by Tencent, GL Ventures and YF Capital, while SoftBank China Venture Capital also got a slice of the pie. Tencent previously led a $132m series E-plus round just under a year ago, while SBCVC had contributed to an $80m series E round in early 2019.

BioCatch has added four big banks – Barclays, Citi, HSBC and National Australia Bank – to a series C round that now stands at $168m. American Express Ventures and CreditEase had backed a $145m first tranche six months ago and the Israel-based behavioural biometrics technology provider has now raised $215m in funding altogether. It’s also launched a so-called client innovation board, where Barclays, Citi, HSBC, NAB and AmEx will be able to exchange ideas on how best to prevent online fraud.

Caloga-backed Sendinblue has added $160m to its coffers thanks to investors including Bpifrance and BlackRock.

Lilly Asia Ventures has returned for a $147m series D round that will allow InventisBio to advance its treatments for breast cancer and gout into phase 2 clinical trials.

Cloud-based banking platform developer Alkami Technology’s total financing meanwhile stands at $365m after attracting $140m in a funding round featuring Fidelity. D1 Capital Partners led the round, while Franklin Templeton and Stockbridge Investors also took part. Details about Alkami’s earlier funding rounds are sparse, though it did announce its series E and D rounds, and its shareholders also include General Atlantic, MissionOG, S3 Ventures and Argonaut Private Equity.

Joyson Electronics has farmed out a stake in its smart driving subsidiary Joy Next to investors including Baofeng Energy and Ningbo Gaofa Automotive Control System.

Tencent has led a round worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” for veterinary care services provider New Ruipeng Pet Healthcare Group. Boehringer Ingelheim and Country Garden Venture Capital, the investment arm for Country Garden, also took part in the round which will allow Ruipeng, which operates more than 1,400 animal clinics and hospitals, to bolster its offering.

University

Monte Rosa climbs $96m series B: University of London-linked Monte Rosa Therapeutics is working on biotechnology to degrade disease-driving proteins.

XY spells out $59m series B: Zhejiang University-backed optical chip maker XY Technology will put the series B cash to strengthening its capacity and product.

Wise conceives $17.6m: University of Milan spinout Wise is a developer of low-invasive neuromodulation implants for treating pain and neurological disorders.

Funds

China’s courier service operator SF Holdings has joined forces with Citic Capital to launch a $308m fund that will focus on the domestic logistics sector. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC provided the largest chunk of cash – a total of $216m – though the size is (at least so far) below an original target of $400m envisaged earlier this year. Fundraising was put on hold at the time and, although the report doesn’t explicitly say this, it’s likely the pandemic was a big factor here.

Long-time readers will be aware of Kickstart Ventures, the investment arm of Philippines-based Globe Telecom, but there has never been a lot of corporate venture capital available in the archipelagic state. This is changing – and in dramatic fashion, too: local conglomerate Ayala has closed a $180m fund (managed by Kickstart Ventures and also backed by Globe Telecom), seemingly making it the country’s biggest venture fund to date. Because that is a lot of money, the Active Fund will actually invest internationally and target series A through D rounds.

BA Capital lures corporates to $147m fund: BA Capital has raised a total of $247m this month across its yuan and dollar-denominated vehicles targeting the consumer and media sectors.

Nippon Life makes an impact with $100m: The insurance provider has committed $100m to the Life Science Impact Program, which is managed by Grove Street Advisors and will focus on healthcare businesses.

Inspiration Capital sparks $73m fund: Hexing Electrical, CSD Environment, Hailang Group and SIG are among the limited partners in a $73m fund raised by Qiming spinoff Inspiration Capital.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0