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Venture Fund to Back Life Science A.I. Start-Ups

Synthetic biology

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

13 July 2023. A new venture fund says it’s investing in health and life science start-ups implementing advanced technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, that promise to transform the field. Modi Ventures, based in Houston, says today it raised $32 million for its first fund, called Tech+Bio Fund 1.

The Tech+Bio Fund, says Modi Ventures, is investing in new enterprises adapting A.I. to address complexities in life sciences for solving continuing issues in clinical trial design, drug development, and precision medicine. The company cites data from a McKinsey and Co. report in 2020 estimating an economic potential of $2 to $4 trillion in the years 2030 to 2040 from advanced technologies applied to biology in agriculture, health, energy, and materials, and consumer products. In this time, says the report, bio-based businesses will account for 30 percent of all private sector R&D, address nearly half (45%) of the world’s health burden, and produce 60 percent of physical inputs in the world.

Modi Ventures founder and general partner Sahir Ali says in a company statement released through Cision, “We are entering an era of software writing software, technology that can unravel our individual genetic makeup, biotech that can reprogram our genes, and a fundamental change in how medicine is practiced by leveraging all of the above,” referring respectively to A.I., gene sequencing, gene editing, and precision medicine. Ali has a doctorate in biomedical engineering, and worked recently as an investment fund manager.

Digital audio biomarkers

Modi Ventures says it’s so far made three investments, including Lapsi Health, a two year-old company in Amsterdam and Helsinki developing systems based on A.I. to analyze sounds often captured in physicians’ stethoscopes, then converting those audio signals into digital biomarkers or health indicators. The digital audio biomarkers, says Lapsi Health, can be built into point-of-care medical devices or accessed remotely through digital health. In Jan. 2023, Science & Enterprise reported on Lapsi Health raising $3.7 million in seed funds, led by Modi Ventures.

Another Modi Ventures portfolio company is Starling Medical in Houston that uses A.I. to analyze urine samples from patients to diagnose and track individuals’ bladder health, such as obstructions, urinary tract infections, chronic kidney disease, and bladder cancer. The four year-old company is spun-off from labs at Rice University. The third start-up funded by Modi Ventures is Cyberdontics, a three year-old company in Boston, that’s reported to use A.I. and robotics to automate dental surgery for faster dental visits, even for complex procedures like root canals. Cyberdontics incubated at Y Combinator and raised $15 million in its first full venture round in Oct. 2022.

Among Modi Ventures’ backers, and officially an advisor to the company, is Andrew Yang, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 and mayor of New York City in 2021. “Modi Ventures’ goal,” notes Yang, “is to find solutions for some of the world’s most vexing problems that keep people unhealthy or struggling with illnesses that we can address collectively.”

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