Her dynamic personality armed with an impressive resume; a MacArthur Fellowship recipient, cofounder of a billion-dollar online education platform Coursera, a computer science professor at Stanford, and now Founder and CEO of Insitro, Daphne Koller, the name was all that was required to attract investors to back the machine learning company Insitro.
On Tuesday, May 26, 2020, the San Francisco based company announced raising $143 million in Series B funding bringing the total to $243 million. This was possible because of the confidence that Koller inspires among its investors, who are of the firm belief that Koller has the skill and the competence that’s required to bring the world of biology and machine learning closer through her relatively new company.
The funding was led by Andreessen Horowitz. Vijay Pande, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz and a recent addition to Insitro board of directors, said Koller is “exactly the type of entrepreneur we’re looking for”. The funding round saw participation from new investors T. Rowe Price Associate, BlackRock, Casdin Capital and CPP Investments along with current investors ARCH Venture Partners, GV and Third Rock Ventures. “It’s a bet on Daphne,” says Robert Nelsen of ARCH Venture Partners, “she’s just exceptional.”
The latest funding would focus on expansion and automation of capabilities that would generate predictive models of human disease and to establish partnerships with core focus on building ML-enabled capabilities along the R&D value chain for drug recovery. The funding will also assist scaling the company and furthering its liver disease research program.
Two years since its inception in 2018 with an idea of engaging data science with life science, its accomplishments in such a short duration earned Insitro a place on Forbes’ inaugural AI 50 list as one of the most promising AI company.
The deal inked with Gilead, a research based biopharmaceutical company, last year with an upfront of $15 million to work on a drug for liver disease allows Insitro to use data from Gilead’s clinical trials to train its machine learning platform.
With pharmaceutical giants as Novartis and Merck having partnered with companies to improve machine learning capabilities and startups like Recursion Pharma and Verge Genomics all vying for the same space, the dynamic field of using machine learning to facilitate drug development is getting very competitive.
What sets Insitro apart is its ability to produce massive amounts of new data to train its machine learning platform whereas many companies rely on existing datasets to teach its ML platform. According to Koller, most of the datasets are messy and result in poorly functioning platforms. Most of the startups look to partner with larger companies down the lane but Insitro aims to be a fully functioning pharma company, right from drug discovery, development to regulatory approvals. Though partnerships are not off the table but what is certain is that it would take some of the drugs all the way through or as many agree that the biggest advantage that Insitro has over other companies is that it’s being led by stellar leader Koller herself.
Founded in 2018 in San Francisco, Insitro leads the way to better medicines through predictive models created by the fusion of machine learning and biology at scale. Led by an exceptional leader Daphne Koller, Insitro’s team of deeply experienced biologists and drug hunters work hand-in-hand with leading edge technologists and machine learners, revolutionizing the way to create better medicine.
To know more, visit: www.insitro.com