U2 band members named as major investors

Bono and The Edge find what they're looking for in biotech start-up Nuritas

By Annie Harrison-Dunn contact

- Last updated on GMT

The company has attracted around €8m in funding in the last two years, which includes backing from Irish musicians Bono and The Edge and the EU's Horizon 2020 programme. Image©Nuritas
The company has attracted around €8m in funding in the last two years, which includes backing from Irish musicians Bono and The Edge and the EU's Horizon 2020 programme. Image©Nuritas
U2 band members Bono and The Edge have been named as major investors in Nuritas, the much-hyped Irish biotech start-up planning to triple its workforce in 2017. 

The company confirmed that the two Irish rockers were among the international investors who coughed up about $1.8m (€1.67m) in a second seed round of investment. This builds on from the first round, which saw the company bank $3.2m (€2.9m)​ last October.

The exact amount the band members contributed was not specified, but Nuritas said it was a "sizeable portion" ​of the sum. 

The funds will be used in part to triple the company’s workforce in Ireland to 60 employees in 2017 as well as to bolster its plans in the US, where it opened a San Francisco office this year. 

The company said: "The US is a very important market for us with a huge opportunity for growth. Our expansion will proceed to maximise this opportunity and we are in significant  talks to progress this rapidly.

"Much like our roles in Ireland we will be expanding across many health major health areas in R&D [and] business development."

Following a visit from the musicians, Nuritas CEO and previous Nestlé regional president Emmet Browne professed to be a life-long fan of the group. 

"Just as they started out performing in front of a small few and are now playing before a global audience of billions, we aim to do exactly the same with Nuritas,” ​he said in a release. 

Nuritas founder and computational biologist Dr Nora Khaldi echoed this, saying: “We aim high and think outside the box at Nuritas which is something that Bono and the Edge have done throughout their careers."

The 2014-founded company uses artificial intelligence and DNA analysis to scan vast databases and unlock currently wasted peptide sources.   

This year the company also secured a €3m EU Horizon 2020 grant​ to conduct clinical trials over the next 18 months on one of its earmarked peptides, which it says represents a major breakthrough in diabetes prevention. 

Mystery findings funded 

Despite the huge funding the company has attracted, very little is publicly known about the peptides pinpointed so far.

The company told us only that the plant-sourced peptide heralded for diabetes prevention would not need to be assessed as a novel food ingredient in the EU thanks to its "everyday"​ food origin and traditional food process. 

It remains coy on commercially sensitive details for this peptide, which it is currently trying to patent. It expects the peptide will be ready to market in functional foods by 2020.

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