AI investment: Nuritas to step up development after €16m Series A funding

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Emmet Browne and Dr Nora Khaldi of Nuritas
Emmet Browne and Dr Nora Khaldi of Nuritas

Related tags Artificial intelligence

Dublin-based biotech Nuritas says the closing of a €16 million of series A funding will allow it to scale up and grasp the ‘huge opportunities’ for the discovery and use of bioactive peptides through artificial intelligence (AI) and genomics.

The latest round of funding, led by Chicago-based Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, takes the total invested in Nuritas to date to around €25 million since the firms’ launch in 2014.

Emmet Browne, CEO of Nuritas told NutraIngredients the new funding will allow it scale the business and ‘grasp the huge opportunity’ that its unique platform has created.

“Predominantly we will use the funds to triple our workforce, progress our research and development and improve our rate of prediction,” said Browne – adding that it will allow the company to create the capacity “to deal with the huge levels of customer demand that is building up for what we do.”

Nuritas, founder and chief scientific officer Dr Nora Khaldi added that the investment will not only help it accelerate routes to market, explore new disease areas and grow its team, “but it will also push us even further in extracting the great potential of what our technology is capable of creating.”

Nick Rosa, managing director of Cultivian Sandbox and Co-founder of Sandbox Industries, which led the latest round of investment, said the company’s unique platform delivers ‘truly life-changing health benefits’

“We are very pleased to be involved in its growth – it’s a brilliant team and such an exciting technology,”​ he said. “We expect Nuritas to quickly emerge as one of the most innovative companies in the world, effecting real change.”

‘Huge opportunity’

Nuritas’ platform combines DNA analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) to predict, unlock, and validate peptides from natural sources. The Irish firm have grown rapidly and gained much attention in recent years, with a list of awards and big-name backers – with initial seed investments from Singapore-based New Protein Capital (NPC) and Silicon Valley investor Ali Partovi​ and further funding coming from Irish rock legends Bono and The Edge in December 2016​.

Headed-up by ex-Nestlé regional president Emmet Browne​, Nuritas was recently given a €3 million EU grant​ to continue working on an unnamed peptide said to be 'a major breakthrough' for diabetes prevention, and has entered into collaboration with international ingredients giant BASF​ for the discovery and commercialisation of functional peptides.

“In an effort to expand our health solutions, we searched the globe trying to find such an innovative discovery technology and we eventually found it with Nuritas,”​ commented Michael De Marco, Global Head, Research & Development Human Nutrition and Pharma Solutions, BASF SE.

Looking to 2018 … and beyond

The partnership between Nuritas and BASF will see its first commercial launch in 2018 as a new anti-inflammatory ingredient is launched into the US market. Nuritas CEO Browne said the launch of the anti-inflammatory ingredient will be ‘pivotal’ for the firm in the next year.

“What is so exciting is that the inflammation ingredient launching in the U.S. next year is actually the first healthcare ingredient that has been fully discovered through the use of Artificial intelligence,” ​added Khaldi.

Meanwhile, BASF’s De Marco said the launch of the ingredient into the US market ‘is only the beginning’.

“Our collaboration is progressing and on track to yield more groundbreaking products in the future.”

Another key area of focus for Nuritas is diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, an estimated 352 million individuals globally are living with pre-diabetes which is considered an early warning sign for the condition.

“Bioactive peptides are known to play a role in managing diabetes and many other areas, but the current methods of identifying those that may work is time-consuming, inefficient and expensive,” ​said Browne – noting that when compared to traditional discovery methods, the Nuritas platform has been shown to identify peptides ten times faster and 500 times more accurately while significantly reducing costs.

“Our artificial intelligence platform has already disrupted this antiquated process by targeting, predicting and unlocking peptides that can positively impact in conditions like pre-diabetes while reducing the cost and time needed to find them,”​ he said.

Commenting on the possibility of further investment and financing rounds, the CEO told NutraIngredients that Nuritas will continue to grow and expand, but that the ‘huge’ round of investment that has just closed will provide a good runway to operate from.

“We are now focussed firmly on using it to maximise the many opportunities before us,”​ he said.

However, Browne added that the company is also “fortunate that we already have a number of different options identified when it comes to bringing in new funding if and when the need may arise.”

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