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Sofinnova Digital Medicine

Ex-Google DeepMind and Owkin scientists team up to create Bioptimus to build the first universal AI foundation model for biology

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Digital Medicine

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Edward Kliphuis

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  • The French startup has launched with a seed funding of $35M, led by Sofinnova Partners, with Bpifrance, and additional funding from top European and American technology VCs
  • Bioptimus will connect the different scales of biology with generative AI; from molecules to cells, tissues and whole organisms, to fuel scientific breakthroughs and accelerate innovation in biomedicine and beyond
  • The world-class team, led by Professor Jean-Philippe Vert, brings together Google DeepMind alumni and Owkin experts

Paris, FRANCE – 20 February 2024 – Today, French startup Bioptimus has emerged from stealth following a seed funding round of $35M. Under the leadership of Professor Jean-Philippe Vert, Bioptimus unites a world-class team of scientists from Owkin and Google DeepMind to transform ​biology with cutting-edge AI foundation model technologies that capture the various scales of biology. This funding round is led by Sofinnova Partners, with Bpifrance, and additional support from top global tech investors Headline, Hummingbird, NJF Capital, Owkin and Top Harvest. French VCs Cathay Investments, Frst and notable tech entrepreneur Xavier Niel join the round to create a global leader in AI for biology in France.

Professor Jean-Philippe Vert, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Bioptimus, Chief R&D Officer of Owkin and former Research Lead at Google Brain said: “The application of foundation models and generative AI to biology is set to have a profound impact in science. By harnessing the power of foundation models and advanced algorithms trained on massive amounts of biological and multimodal data across scales, we aim to capture the laws of biology that have hitherto remained too complex to be properly understood. This holistic understanding of biology across scales will be critical to accelerate biomedical and environmental science.”

Edward Kliphuis, Partner at Sofinnova Partners, said: “Foundation models in biology are game-changers. They unlock unprecedented potential to personalize medicine, capturing the uniqueness of each individual while harnessing the collective knowledge of all. Bioptimus stands out by seamlessly blending unparalleled data resources and access, elite talent, and extensive computational power. Together with Sofinnova's deep expertise in life sciences and our expansive network, we're poised to redefine the future of the industry."

Bioptimus will benefit from Owkin’s data generation capabilities and federated global access to multimodal patient data sourced from leading academic hospitals worldwide, as well as a best-in-class, scalable and secure computing environment from Amazon Web Services, Inc (AWS). Fueled by an abundance of data from all scales and modalities, this gives the power to create computational representations that establish a strong differentiation against models trained solely on public datasets and a single data modality that are not able to capture the full diversity of biology.

Laurent Higueret, Senior Investment Director at Bpifrance, commented: “Bioptimus is founded with the ambition of making a quantum leap in our understanding of human biology. At Bpifrance, we are delighted to partner with such an impressive team and group of investors for a category defining company that will disrupt many R&D activities.”

About Bioptimus

Bioptimus is building the first universal AI foundation model in biology to drive advancements in scientific research and biotechnological innovation. By employing state-of-the-art AI technologies and accessing unique proprietary data at scale, we aim to shape the future of scientific research and improve healthcare outcomes globally. For more information, please visit https://www.bioptimus.com.

About Owkin
Owkin is the first end-to-end TechBio company building precision therapeutics and diagnostics tools at scale, using AI trained on a global patients federated data network to understand complex biology and derive new multimodal biomarkers.Owkin has raised over $300 million through investments from leading biopharma companies (Sanofi and BMS) and venture funds (GV, F-PRIME, and BPI, among others), and has recently announced MOSAIC, creating the largest dataset in spatial transcriptomics from 7 cancer indications. For more information, please visit https://www.owkin.com.

About Sofinnova Partners
Sofinnova Partners is a leading European venture capital firm in life sciences, specializing in healthcare and sustainability. Based in Paris, London and Milan, the firm brings together a team of professionals from all over the world with strong scientific, medical and business expertise. Sofinnova Partners invests in companies from seed to late-stage, and actively partners with ambitious entrepreneurs as a lead or cornerstone investor to develop innovations that will positively impact our collective future.

About Bpifrance
Bpifrance is the French Public Investment Bank and acts as one-stop-shop offering domestic companies a comprehensive range of financial products and services to support them at every stage of their development.

Large Venture, incepted in 2013 is the late-stage VC arm of Bpifrance. The €1.75 billion fund is dedicated to fast-growing, highly innovative startups looking to accelerate organic or external growth. Large Venture invests in private and public companies across three main sectors: healthtech and life sciences, digital and greentech.

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