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Digital Chemistry Start-Up Gains $43M in Early Funds

Molecule model in an open hand

(Colin Behrens, Pixabay.

2 Aug. 2023. A company, spun-off from academic labs that designs and produces new chemicals with artificial intelligence and robotics, is raising $42.7 million in its first venture funding round. Chemify, in Glasgow, Scotland, began operations last year, commercializing research by University of Glasgow chemistry professor and company founder Lee Cronin.

Cronin’s digital chemistry group at University of Glasgow studies the digitization of chemistry for discovery of molecules with algorithms and robotics to speed identification of new chemical compounds by overcoming physical limitations imposed by human intervention. The lab also studies the intersection of chemistry and computer science, adapting chemical models for electronics design, as well as integrating programming logic into chemical analysis. Another Cronin lab team investigates 3-D printing to create small custom chemical reactors for producing personalized drugs on demand.

Chemify seeks to bring these integrations of chemistry and digital technology to the marketplace. The company offers development of new molecules with A.I. algorithms and what it calls a chemical programing language that enables design of compounds meeting specified functional properties. Chemify says its robotics facilities make possible rapid design-make-test-analyze cycles, as well as parallel testing and rapid scale-up for pilot plant chemical synthesis. The company says its technology can speed development of new molecules for medicines, agriculture, materials, and green energy.

A.I. in biology, energy, and chemistry

“It has long been our dream to digitize chemistry,” says Cronin, also Chemify’s CEO in a company statement released through BusinessWire adding, “Chemify is building a company that can design, make, and discover complex molecules on demand using digital blueprints faster, more efficiently, and safely than is currently possible. Our mission is to deliver better molecules for pharmaceutical and industrial partners in a fraction of the time and cost currently required.”

Chemify is raising £33.6 million ($US 42.7 million) in its first venture funding round, led by technology investor Triatomic Capital in New York. Triatomic funds start-ups advancing A.I. and engineering applications in biology, energy, chemistry, and designed materials, as well as advances in A.I., robotics, and blockchain. Taking part in the round are current investor BlueYard Capital and new investors Horizon Ventures, Rocketship Ventures, Possible Ventures, Alix Ventures, Eos, and the U.K. Government Innovation Accelerators program.

Start-ups working at the intersection of chemistry, biotechnology, and engineering appear to be attracting venture investor interest in recent months. Since April 2023, Science & Enterprise has reported on several new companies in this space raising at least $5 million in seed or first venture rounds: Carbonwave developing biomaterials from Sargassum seaweed, Initial Therapeutics designing small molecule therapies that alter the the synthesis of proteins in cells, Hopewell Therapeutics developing nanoscale lipid particles for delivering genomic therapies to cells and tissue, and Camena Bioscience producing synthetic genes with greater accuracy for research and clinical applications.

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