CellVoyant secures £7.6 million seed funding to accelerate the development of stem cell therapies with AI
Investment will make stem cell-based therapies more efficient, scalable, and cost-effective
Bristol, 9am GMT, 16th January 2024 – CellVoyant, an AI-first biotechnology spin-out from the University of Bristol accelerating the development of novel cell therapies, has announced a £7.6 million seed round.
Led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from Horizons Ventures, Verve Ventures, and Air Street Capital, this funding marks the first stage in commercialising CellVoyant's first of its kind AI and imaging platforms. The company aims to enable the cost-effective, reliable, and rapid development of novel cell therapies. Stem cells unlock a range of treatment possibilities that have not previously been available to patients. Current treatment options act on the body’s existing cells, while stem cells can develop into many different cell types in the body - regenerating damaged tissues and organs or replacing dysfunctional and dead cells.
There are already promising potential applications in chronic diseases, such as cancer, and metabolic diseases like diabetes and age-related macular degeneration. In future, stem cells could be used to alleviate currently untreatable conditions like dementia, fertility, and spinal cord injury.
Stem cell biology is complex and unpredictable, and producing pure, viable populations of stem cell derivatives at clinical scale can be slow and challenging. In fact, 84% of cell therapy assets fail within two years of development, and 47% of cell therapy assets still fail after the five-year point in development.
CellVoyant’s platform - powered by patent-pending technology FateView and FateCast - combines advanced AI with live cell imaging to address these pain points. Its technology can extract spatial and temporal information in real-time from hundreds of millions of cells within complex cell mixtures, helping scientists understand their composition and forecast how they will evolve. This allows them to forecast stem cell behaviour with unprecedented precision and find optimal pathways for differentiating cells into specific cell types, such as nerve, cardiac or blood, facilitating more effective development of cell therapies.
CellVoyant’s technology will improve target cell yields, reduce time, and to offer potential savings of $10 – 100 million per therapy.
Rafael E. Carazo Salas, CEO and founder of CellVoyant said:
"Cell therapies have the potential to revolutionise the way we treat diseases that affect millions of people every year. By combining the latest advances in AI and live cell imaging, we can help bring these transformative treatments to the market quickly, reliably, and cost-effectively. Today’s milestone validates the potential of our approach and will help us to accelerate our R&D capabilities.”
Uzma Choudry, Lead Biotech Investor at Octopus Ventures, said:
“University spin-outs like CellVoyant are at the heart of the UK’s thriving biotech ecosystem. CellVoyant sets a new standard in precision and reliability for predicting and controlling stem cell behaviour, which will make cell therapies more accessible to those who need them. We are thrilled to invest into a company that is transforming how patients can benefit from life-changing treatments.”
The proceeds from this funding round will be used to significantly increase headcount, expand laboratory and experimental infrastructure, and support R&D.
Founded in 2021, CellVoyant has already made significant strides in the field, securing an also £2.2 million pre-seed round in December 2021. The new £7.6 million seed funding will be instrumental in scaling CellVoyant’s capabilities, including doubling the team size over the next two years, expanding laboratory and experimental infrastructure, and advancing AI capabilities. The company’s growth trajectory includes hiring stem cell experts, machine learning and AI engineers, and expanding its business development and commercialisation efforts.
CellVoyant is an AI-first biotechnology company dedicated to creating novel stem cell-based therapies for chronic diseases. Their technology employs AI-first live cell imaging to predict and optimise stem cell differentiation, enabling the controllable manufacturing of any cell and tissue in the body at scale. Founded on foundational work from the Carazo Salas lab at the University of Bristol, CellVoyant is on a mission to bring cutting-edge science from research into the real world.