A $450 Million Investment Fund from VC Andreesen Horowitz are Leaving Biotechs Hungry
Christmas may come early for some plucky bio-techs, as a new pool of funding is being made available by venture capital Andreesen Horowitz. The firm announced it has launched a $450 million investment fund called BIO II that is “focused on the intersection of biology and engineering.”
This is the second fund from the VC that is aimed at life sciences. In 2015, the firm established a fund with $200 million for investments.
“We are thrilled to be supporting entrepreneurs using AI/machine learning across categories such as next-generation wearables, diagnostics, and therapeutics,” Andreesen Horowitz’ Jorge Conde and Vijay Pande said in a blog on the company site.
“As with our first bio fund, we’re stage-agnostic, investing across seed to growth. We continue to be interested in computational biomedicine, applying AI and ML to diagnostics and therapeutics; new bio utilities or tools that make it easier to “read”, “write” or edit and synthesize DNA, and “execute” biology (that is, program and design organisms), as well as advance bioengineering itself; and of course, network effects that play out across the entire healthcare value chain including payers, providers, and patients.”
Since Andreesen Horowitz entered the life sciences funding field, the company has made 12 investments that span early detection of cancer, heart disease, and longevity. One of the company’s Andreesen Horowitz staked is Bay Area-based Freenome, which uses a combination of machine learning, biology and computer science to develop effective disease screenings. Andreesen Horowitz, as well as GV (Google Ventures) and others, backed the company with $65 million in Series A funding. As part of the backing, Pande joined the Freenome board of directors.
Freenome is the type of company that the new Andreesen Horowitz fund will continue to stake. In their blog post, Pande and Conde said the “something” they look for in a company is the “ability to engineer biology.”
“It’s the point at which bio advances beyond empiricism — time-consuming, incomplete, unpredictable — and becomes more of an engineered discipline, allowing us to plan along a roadmap, make incremental innovations, and progress in a very systematic way. This is the point at which one can build a viable, scalable company, not just a research project,” they said.