$60 Million Raised for Biotech and Machine Learning Startup Company Immunai

By James White Friday, February 19, 2021

Machine learning (ML), a subset of artificial intelligence (AI), impacts our lives in numerous ways. From movie recommendations on online streaming services like Netflix to self-driving electric vehicles, the adaptive technology’s applications spread far and wide across industries, startups, and businesses.

Biotech startup company Immunai utilizes ML to develop and optimize immunotherapies for cancer treatments. Investors backed the business with funds amounting to $60 million in a recent Series A round, bringing total investments in the biotech startup company to $80 million. Lead investors in the funding round for the biotech business included the Schusterman Foundation, Duquesne Family Office, Dexcel Pharma, and Catalio Capital Management.

“We don’t have the luxury to move more slowly,” said Noam Solomon, co-founder and CEO of the startup company. “Because I think that we are in kind of a perfect storm, where a lot of advances in machine learning and computer computations have led us to the point where we can actually leverage those methods to mine important insights.”

A hand holding up a digital DNA helix.

Tackling Cancer Treatment Through AI and Biology

Soloman founded the startup biotech business in December 2018 alongside entrepreneurs and scientists Luis Voloch, Danny Wells, Ansuman Satpathy, and Dan Littman. The company aims to accelerate the research and development of new immunotherapy techniques as well as improve the efficacy of existing treatments through ML and a deep biological understanding of the immune system.

The business takes a multi-omic approach to immunotherapy, or an approach that utilizes multiple layers of biological data. Furthermore, the biotech company uses multi-omic genomics combined with advanced ML algorithms to accelerate the creation of novel treatments.

“We’re moving from just observing cells, but actually to going and perturbing them, and seeing what the outcome is,” Voloch said. “This, from the computational side, later allows us to move from correlative assessments to actually causal assessments, which makes our models a lot more powerful. Both on the computational side and on the lab side, these are really bleeding edge technologies that I think we will be the first to really put together at any kind of real scale.”

Growing ML Industry Drives Technological Advancements

Besides startup companies like Immunai, billion-dollar businesses such as Amazon and Google have their own ML departments. Amazon Web Services provides machine learning technology to businesses such as T-Mobile and Netflix.

A report from the International Data Corporation (IDC) expects global spending on AI systems to reach $97.9 billion by 2023.

"The AI market continues to grow at a steady rate in 2019 and we expect this momentum to carry forward," said David Schubmehl, research director of IDC’s Cognitive/Artificial Intelligence Systems. "The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) is occurring in a wide range of solutions and applications from ERP and manufacturing software to content management, collaboration, and user productivity. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are top of mind for most organizations today, and IDC expects that AI will be the disrupting influence changing entire industries over the next decade."

About the Author

Headshot of James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a BS in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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