Cradle, the pioneering biotech startup harnessing generative AI to expedite protein design and engineering, has announced the successful closure of a $24 million Series A funding round led by Index Ventures. Accompanying this investment are strategic partnerships with industry titans in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food, and materials.
With participation from Kindred Capital and notable angel investors like Chris Gibson, co-founder and CEO of Recursion, and Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters and Lead Director at Merck, the funding round brings Cradle's total raised capital to $33 million since its emergence from stealth mode in 2022.
Since its public debut, Cradle has cultivated an impressive portfolio of partnerships with nine industry leaders, including Janssen Research & Development, Novozymes, and Twist Bioscience. These collaborations focus on advancing a diverse array of protein modalities, spanning enzymes, vaccines, peptides, and antibodies, emphasizing properties such as stability, expression, activity, binding affinity, and specificity.
Demonstrating remarkable strides in their technology, Cradle's platform showcases a remarkable acceleration in protein design and optimization, slashing both time and cost involved in research and development. Projects utilizing Cradle's platform progress at twice the speed of industry benchmarks, significantly reducing the number of experiments while boosting success rates.
Moreover, Cradle's generative AI capabilities offer novel solutions to intricate protein engineering challenges, unlocking avenues that conventional tools often overlook. This leap in efficiency marks a substantial advancement in the historically arduous and costly process of developing biological products.
Stef van Grieken, CEO, and co-founder of Cradle, expressed enthusiasm about the achievement, highlighting the profound impact of their technology on health outcomes and environmental sustainability. Van Grieken stated, "By leveraging generative AI and machine learning to expedite the optimization of proteins, we empower research and development teams to innovate swiftly, cost-effectively, and successfully."
The Series A funding will propel Cradle's growth trajectory, fortify its machine learning and biotech workforce, and fuel continuous advancements in product development and sales capabilities. With a current team of 20 across Delft, The Netherlands, and Zurich, Switzerland, Cradle anticipates expansion in 2024, alongside plans for augmented laboratory and engineering facilities in Amsterdam.
Sofia Dolfe, Partner at Index Ventures, emphasized the transformative potential of AI in biology. Dolfe praised Cradle's technology, acknowledging its role in accelerating innovation in a field poised to revolutionize global production. "Scientists harness Cradle's platform to pioneer new proteins, shaping the burgeoning landscape of biological programming," Dolfe commented.
Cradle's commitment to enhancing accessibility and usability underpins its continuous platform development, ensuring an intuitive and inclusive experience for scientists and experimentalists without a machine learning background.
The strides made by Cradle underscore the profound impact of AI on biological advancements, signaling a promising shift towards expedited, cost-effective, and successful research and development in the realm of biological products.