Project Sapiens, a young medical technology and lifestyle company, has retrospectively issued company filings indicating they raised £6.18m in equity finance last October. Interestingly, this was just two months after the entity was incorporated. The same filings indicate they received a pre-money valuation of £11m, which if correct is considerable for such a young company.
Who backed this large pre-seed round? On their latest annual report, filed in August, several venture capital funds are now listed: Accomplice, Karog Invest (based in Paris), Daphni, and Mosaic Ventures. Considering the company has only completed one round of equity finance, we can be almost certain that these funds participated.
Such a high valuation suggests the company is sitting on some exciting IP, and/or that their senior management team has an impressive track record. The latter is certainly true: project Sapiens is led by alumni of Oxford, Cambridge and MIT, including an ex-director at Yahoo, and the ex-CEO of HouseTrip. Their board also includes Tim Spector, Professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College and the author of The Diet Myth, which argues that a person’s health is heavily dependent on their microbiome (gut bacteria makeup – there are over a 1,000 species of bacteria in our intestine alone).
Their technology is also interesting, purportedly using machine learning to suggest changes to a customers diet based on their genomic and microbiome data. However, the company is still in a very early stage, and it’s unclear whether they will occupy a consumer-focussed niche, or whether they will seek to work with healthcare providers.
Project Sapiens now joins a new wave of companies operating in the personal genomics analysis sphere, who have been spurred by the huge drop in technology costs. These companies operate on a similar model – customers purchase a genetic testing kit, which they use at home before sending to the company’s analysis lab.
The most successful of these has been 23andMe, an American company which offers ancestry and health analysis based on a user’s genome. British versions include, DNAnudge, who have raised over £10m in equity finance, DNAFit, who were acquired by Prenetics earlier this year, and OME Health, who were accelerated by a collaboration between Bupa and L Marks. In fact, OME operates a very similar business model to Project Sapiens, testing both genetic and microbiome markers and making healthcare suggestions accordingly.
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