Matterworks raised a $6M seed round in December 2020.
Pillar, OMX Ventures, Wing, Emily Leproust, iGlobe Partners, Wavemaker 360 Health
New Equilibrium Bio raised a $10M seed round in March 2021.
Pillar, RA Capital
One year later, we were happy to learn that the world was hungry for our new approach to funding formation-stage startups at the intersection of biology and engineering.
We’ve partnered with 11 companies since launching, and over 800 people attended our first virtual summit, The Dish. Moreover, we’ve helped 1,000+ PhD students and postdocs get started on their founder journeys, through 25+ university events, a network of 200+ faculty labs, and our free virtual program, Frequency.
While we couldn’t have expected how 2020 would unfold, in hindsight, it feels like we launched at just the right time. We can’t wait to see you in person once the world opens up again!
Developing sustainable lab-grown cotton from cells on an industrial scale.
Accelerating discovery and engineering through faster metabolomic screening.
Expanding structure-based drug discovery to shape-shifting targets.
Bio-fabricated materials for the fashion industry.
Measuring soil carbon accurately, instantly, and affordably.
Novel sensors for wound drainage monitoring + predictive tools for better patient outcomes.
A protein engineering company still in stealth.
Broad platform to modulate any microbiome to achieve predictable stability in the engineered microbiomes.
Stealth startup developing technology to align patients & their physicians as strong partners and share in decision making.
We observed radical perseverance and nimble adaptability from our first group of founders, who pivoted to create lab space out of shipping containers, built their teams entirely remotely, signed their first customers, and raised capital — through Zoom.
Over the last few centuries, we’ve built a global economy that is inextricably reliant on fossil fuels. As a result, there’s no denying it — we’re warming Planet Earth. Beyond climate change, we’re faced with substantial sustainability challenges, including pollution, biodiversity loss, and deforestation, among others.
At Petri, we believe that biology will be increasingly leveraged to address these problems. Within the umbrella of sustainability, this year we invested in founders building companies focused on food, agriculture, biomaterials, and carbon removal.
Grow cotton in a lab from plant cell culture.
Significantly smaller emissions and resource footprint than conventional cotton.
Grow clothing materials from bacterial cellulose.
Aim of replacing leather, an incredibly resource-intensive and polluting material.
Measure soil carbon accurately and instantly.
Numerous applications in renewable chemicals and materials.
At every level, this success emphatically demonstrates biology’s emergence as a field of engineering: the genomics to rapidly sequence and analyze the SARS-CoV-2 genome; the biochemistry to copy and produce it in vitro; the mRNA technology to express the spike protein in the body and stimulate the human immune system; and the microfluidics to produce lipid nanoparticles for delivery.
The same engineering mindset and sense of urgency can unlock progress on a host of current and emerging needs across human health.
The Matterworks team at the Pillar VC office.
New Equilibrium Bio is creating new methods to model undruggable shape-shifting proteins to be the first to discover their druggable conformations.
On September 16th, 2020, we hosted our first virtual summit: “The Dish: A celebration of bio + engineering.”
Over 800 members of the global bio community joined to listen to leaders including George Church, Daphne Koller and Stan Lapidus share insights about NexGen Food + Ag, Innovations in Therapeutics, Unexplored Topics in COVID, New Tools for Biotech and more.
All of the talks can be found here.
Over 800 members of the global bio community attended The Dish.
We’d love to connect if you’re thinking about building or investing in companies at the intersection of biology and technology.
Virginia Burger grew up in Connecticut and got into chemistry through her grandfather. “My grandpa was a chemist, and he was really into computers.” Virginia remembers that, when she was little, he would come over with kids programming books and taught her how to code — and she loved it.
Virginia was drawn to biology and math in school and did her master’s thesis on protein folding. “I’m a mathematician. And I always wanted to be doing something with biology…Then one day, somebody gave a seminar on protein folding…and the whole thing just clicked.” Virginia completed her PhD in computational biology and got really interested in intrinsically disordered proteins, which is the core focus of New Equilibrium Biosciences.
While in a postdoc position at MIT, Virginia was looking for academic positions but wasn’t getting a sense of excitement. Virginia attended a startup networking session at Sloan and remembers that as her turning point: “Everybody was buzzing.” Virginia engrossed herself in entrepreneurship resources at MIT and then worked at XtalPi for two years to gain experience in an early-stage biotech company, before launching New Equilibrium Biosciences.
New Equilibrium is designing new therapeutics that target intrinsically disordered proteins, which is a class of underlying proteins that are involved in all kinds of cancers and neurodegenerative disorders, as well as many other diseases. They’ve never been able to be targeted before because of the challenges of juggling proteins that don’t have a fixed structure. “We’re pioneering computational and experimental approaches that let us actually see the different conformations with these protein samples and design drugs to selectively and specifically target them,” shares Virginia. “We’re taking advantage of the latest computational hardware to accelerate our algorithms, because there’s always been two problems, accuracy and coverage, and we’re hitting both with more accurate algorithms that are also faster, thanks to modern-day hardware and modern-day software. New Equilibrium wants to bring drugs to patients with high unmet need.”
Luciano Bueno grew up in São Paulo, Brazil and started his entrepreneurship journey when he was 16 years old. Still a teenager, he understood that to achieve something, he needed to work hard. Because he was passionate about fashion, he started selling t-shirts door-to-door. At the university, he studied business, and then worked at Deloitte and in venture capital, before launching his first company in the textile industry.
Luciano claims that his first startup was “a fantastic failure.” It was his failure showed him his true mission. Luciano realized that it was not exactly the textiles/fashion he was passionate about, but the process, the hands, the people, the lives and the entire chain that survive behind that industry. Just like his hands and feet, which walked and knocked from door-to-door.
Reborn and renewed, Luciano looked for his old friend Paula Elbl. “We started to dig in a little bit more into our failures, our dreams and our expertises, through this fantastic chemistry, that GALY was born.”
“At GALY, we are in the business of saving lives and the environment by producing cotton directly from cells,” explains Luciano. “We believe we found a new way of doing things; at scale we are able to grow the cotton 10 times faster, using 80% less resources, having the same quality or even better than what you find in the field,” all without the social issues that are common in cotton supply chains.
Luciano and GALY want to shift traditional agriculture to cellular agriculture. “I want every person on the planet to be able to produce almost anything that is made from plants without all the demanding resources and we won’t stop until we get there.”
He continues to explain… “Few people know the history of Brazil and the history of its people. I am the son of immigrants, and in our history, almost all have worked for cotton and cacao industries and farms. I have no doubt that my desire to change the lives of people who (still) work under these conditions also comes from my origin” explains Luciano.
Luciano’s proudest moment to date has been earning first place in the Global Change Awards from the H&M Foundation. “The recognition of our mission by the fashion industry today is our greatest achievement. This proves that one of the industries that pollutes the most in the world can also be the first one that wants to change this game.” He’s also incredibly pleased with his team’s perseverance and the engagement during COVID. At one point during the pandemic, the team turned a trucking container into a lab to keep making progress.
Mimoun Cadosch Delmar grew up in Bogota, Colombia as the eldest son of immigrants. When Mimoun’s dad was thirteen, he started working to help pay his family’s bills and eventually started his own textile company. Mimoun remembers how his father used to pull him out of school for weeks to take him on business trips. He used to sit in all the meetings, go to all of the trade shows, and visit all the booths with his dad. “It made me realize this is what I want to do. I want to build a company. I want to innovate.”
In school, Mimoun studied math and computer science. At some point, Mimoun realized that “science is upstream of everything — our ability to grow the economic pie as a society…and I wanted to create a company to advance the rate of scientific progress.” Although a computer scientist by training, Mimoun was inspired by George Church’s book Regenesis to explore synthetic biology to program life instead of computers.
Mimoun chose to work at the Broad Institute in order to immerse himself in the center of the biotechnology field. “I always thought the way science worked was [by asking] ‘what scientific question can we ask — and how do we build the tools to answer it?’ [But] the way it really worked was, ‘What tools do we have, and what scientific questions do they allow us to ask?’ I realized that tools really drive science.”
Mimoun started looking for areas where the tools are missing — where there are gaps, limitations, or constraints because the tools aren’t there quite yet. After over 200 interviews, some patterns started to emerge in the area of metabolomics. These conversations drove Mimoun to launch Matterworks.
Matterworks aims to drive adoption of metabolomics as part of the biotech tool stack, by making metabolomics technology that is much faster, broader and more cost effective than it is today. Metabolomics helps us understand how an organism makes use of the resources available to it. This is incredibly important in biotechnology, enabling us to diagnose, treat, and cure diseases — and to engineer organisms. “Our ability to understand, visualize, and characterize these metabolic processes in high resolution gives us a deeper insight into the biology that’s happening. And that is missing from a lot of the life sciences today.”
“I was very proud of the first set of the first proof of concept experiments that we ran… It was March 2020 and the peak of the pandemic. We drove to Amherst, and it was a ghost town. We ran these experiments…and then would code 12 hours in the hotel, and then go back to the lab. It was exhausting, but, eventually we learned some really important things about the science we’re trying to do. We were very proud of that.”