Good day. Some biotechnology startups are seeking to hire
scientists with skills extending well beyond biology.
With biotech capital readily available, startups' chief
constraint is finding the right people. Increasingly, biotechs are
using tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning in
a bid to make discoveries that would have been impossible
That requires a new breed of scientist who is familiar with
computational technologies, said Fabrice Chouraqui, chief executive
of Cellarity Inc., a biotech startup in Cambridge, Mass., that uses
expertise in biology and machine learning to develop new,
Dr. Chouraqui, also a CEO-partner of Flagship Pioneering, the
life sciences investor that founded Cellarity and many other
biotechs, said being part of Flagship's network has helped the
company identify job candidates with the right mix of skills.
"The next-generation scientists will be scientists who will be
able to operate across biology, technology and computation," Dr.
Chouraqui said. "That puts a strain on some more-established
And now on to the news...
Biotech hiring. Employment and salaries in biotechnology are
swelling, driven by rising investment in a sector that is gaining
prominence as it develops drugs and vaccines for Covid-19 and other
Emerging drugmakers are hiring scientists at a faster clip, and
compensation for these researchers is growing more quickly than in
other technology sectors, according to Emsi Burning Glass, a job
Even as it expands, the biotech sector is struggling to provide
opportunity for women and people of color in top leadership roles,
industry data show.
Biotechs are battling for talent as they staff up to meet growth
projections fueled by ready access to venture capital and the
public markets. From 2015 to the second quarter of 2021, job growth
for U.S. biotech scientists rose 50%, according to Emsi Burning
Glass. "I don't think there's ever been a better time to be in
biotechnology," said Geoffrey von Maltzahn, a general partner of
Flagship Pioneering and chief executive of biotech startup Tessera
The number of scientists employed in U.S. biotechnology
companies as of the second quarter of 2021, according to Emsi
Burning Glass. Biotech scientific jobs have increased 50% since
Imperial Capital-Backed Eye-Care Company Weighs Sale
Keplr Vision, a private-equity-owned business that provides
operational support to optometry practices across the U.S., has
been exploring options including a sale, Laura Cooper reports for
WSJ Pro, citing people familiar with the matter. Backed by
Toronto-based private-equity firm Imperial Capital Group Ltd., the
Bloomington, Ill., company has been working with investment bank
Houlihan Lokey Inc., the people said.
Keplr is projected to have adjusted earnings before interest,
taxes, depreciation and amortization of about $100 million this
year, according to the people. If reached, a deal could be valued
around $1.8 billion, according to some of the people familiar with
The company partners with or purchases medically-focused
optometry practices in the U.S. and provides them with operational
Other VC News
Toast, Freshworks Make Strong Market Debuts
Technology companies Toast Inc. and Freshworks Inc. had strong
public-markets debuts on Wednesday, midway through a busy week for
initial public offerings, The Wall Street Journal reports. Shares
of Toast closed Wednesday up roughly 56%, valuing the company at
$35.94 billion. Freshworks's shares closed up 32%, valuing it at
$15.3 billion. Toast and Freshworks offer technology that helps
companies meet their customers' needs. Boston-based Toast provides
software for the restaurant industry, including payment systems,
while California-based Freshworks has technology that assists
companies with their customer service.
Genomics-focused Illumina Ventures closed its second fund with
$325 million in commitments. Limited partners in the new vehicle
include Illumina Inc. and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.
Since launching in 2016, the Foster City, Calif.-based firm has
invested in 25 companies including Walking Fish Therapeutics,
Kallyope, Alamar Biosciences, Encoded Therapeutics and
Frazier Healthcare Partners added Maria Fardis as a venture
partner on the life sciences team. She is also chief executive of
4PinesCo Inc., a Frazier-founded search company focused on
developing therapeutic candidates. Ms. Fardis was previously
president and CEO of Iovance Biotherapeutics.
San Francisco-based healthcare investment firm Revelation
Partners named Doug Fisher as partner and Liz Staley as chief
compliance officer. Prior to joining Revelation, Mr. Fisher spent
15 years at New Leaf Ventures and InterWest Partners focusing on
biopharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics investments. Ms.
Staley was previously at Leerink Capital Partners and Silicon
Switzerland-based drug development investor Pureos Bioventures
appointed Dragan Grabulovski, Ian Metcalfe and Roberto Iacone as
venture partners. Mr. Grabulovski was previously CSO and co-founder
of Covagen AG. Mr. Metcalfe joined NovaGo Therapeutics as chief
executive last year. Mr. Iacone is CEO of Alentis Therapeutics.
Rewind Therapeutics, a developer of therapies for multiple
sclerosis and other myelin-related diseases, appointed Anja
Harmeier as chief executive. She was previously a partner at Pureos
Bioventures. Belgium-based Rewind Therapeutics is backed by
investors including Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and M
Be Biopharma, a startup developing B cells as medicines, said
Mitchell Chan joined the company as chief financial officer and
head of corporate strategy. He was previously CFO at Viela Bio.
Cambridge, Mass.-based Be Biopharma raised a $52 million Series A
round last year from Atlas Ventures, RA Capital, Alta Partners,
Longwood Fund and Takeda Ventures.
Unite US Inc., a builder of coordinated care networks of health
and social service providers, has acquired community referral
platform NowPow. Terms of the new deal weren't disclosed. Unite US
Inc. is backed by investors including Iconiq Growth, Define
Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Emerson Collective and Optum
Ventures. Last month, the New York-based company acquired health
analytics company Carrot Health.
Novartis acquired Arctos Medical, a Swiss developer of
optogenetic therapies for treating blindness, for an undisclosed
amount. Arctos was backed by Novartis Venture Fund and ND
IVX Health, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based provider of outpatient
infusion centers, completed a $100 million Series F round from
Great Hill Partners. Previous investors in the company include
McKesson Ventures, Health Velocity Capital and Nueterra Capital.
Mark Taber, a managing director at Great Hill Partners, will join
Pager Inc., a New York-based virtual-care navigation and
collaboration platform, raised $70 million in Series C equity and
debt funding. Susquehanna Private Equity Investments led the round,
which saw participation from an affiliate of Horizon Healthcare
Services Inc. Silicon Valley Bank provided the debt portion. Health
Catalyst Capital, Goodwater Capital, Lux Capital and New Enterprise
Associates are also backers of Pager.
Nomad Health Inc., a New York-based digital marketplace for
temporary healthcare jobs, snagged $63 million in new equity and
debt financing. Adams Street Partners led the round, which included
contributions from Icon Ventures, Polaris Partners, RRE Ventures,
.406 Ventures, First Round Capital and Silicon Valley Bank. In
addition to the investment, Nomad Health appointed Kim Howard as
chief client officer and Jeff Simon as vice president of
Hexagon Bio Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based developer of
small-molecule medicines mined from microbial genomes, fetched a
$61 million investment led by Nextech Invest. New investors
SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Casdin Capital also participated in the
round, along with previous backers The Column Group, 8VC and Two
858 Therapeutics, a San Diego-based startup developing
small-molecule therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, emerged
from stealth with $60 million in Series A funding. Versant Ventures
led the round, which included participation from New Enterprise
Associates, Cormorant Asset Management and Logos Capital.
Centivo, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based employer-sponsored health plan
provider, picked up a $51 million investment. B Capital Group and
Maverick Capital co-led the round, which included support from Bain
Capital Ventures, Company Ventures, Define Ventures, F-Prime
Capital, HarbourVest Partners, Ingleside Investors, Nassau Street
Ventures and others.
Cytrellis Biosystems Inc., a Woburn, Mass.-based developer of
dermatologic aesthetic devices for the removal of sagging skin due
to aging, closed a $50 million Series C round led by D1 Capital
Partners. Additional new investor Sands Capital also participated
in the funding, along with existing backers ARCH Venture Partners
and PFM Health Sciences.
Credence MedSystems Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based developer
of drug delivery systems, secured a $39.9 million investment from
Novartis Pharma, Molex Ventures and others.
HumanCo, an Austin, Texas-based holding company dedicated to
creating products focused on healthier living and sustainability,
grabbed $35 million in bridge funding from investors including 8VC
and JAZZ Venture Partners. Along with the investment, HumanCo
acquired Against the Grain, a baker of grain-free and gluten-free
NOCD, a Chicago-based provider of a treatment for obsessive
compulsive-disorder, nabbed $33 million in Series B funding. Lead
investor F-Prime Capital was joined by Eight Roads Ventures, Kaiser
Permanente Ventures, 7wireVentures, Health Enterprise Partners and
Chicago Ventures in the round.
Tact.ai, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based provider of customer
engagement software to life science organizations, added $33
million in a new round of funding from dRx Capital, M12, Salesforce
Ventures, Eli Lilly & Co. and McKesson Ventures.
Intenseye, a New York- and Istanbul-based employee health and
safety software platform, collected a $25 million Series A
investment. Insight Partners led the round, which included
participation from Point Nine and Air Street Capital.
Vodori, a Chicago-based cloud software provider for life science
companies, landed $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Baird
Capital. Jim Pavlik, partner with Baird Capital's venture capital
team, will join the board.
More Health News
The number of pregnant women who are vaccinated remains
relatively low compared with the national average. PHOTO: HANNAH
Pfizer study of Covid-19 vaccine in pregnant women delayed by
Biden to pledge 500 million more Pfizer vaccine donations for
poor nations at U.N. Covid-19 summit
U.S. pledge to vaccinate poor countries stumbles amid logistical
How accurate are Covid-19 rapid home tests, and when should you
AstraZeneca breast cancer drug cuts risk of death
Most of $9.2 billion in questionable Medicare payments went to
20 insurers, investigators say
Around the Web
How a potential partnership turned into a $1.9 billion buyout
for Sanofi. (Endpoints News)
Eli Lilly zeroes in on clinical trial diversity. (Fierce
Arm amputation surgery makes a 'phantom' hand seem real. (STAT
Scientists examine children's unique immune systems as more fall
victim to Covid. (Kaiser Health News)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 23, 2021 10:17 ET (14:17 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.