Creating a new dimension: Biotech VC merging tech and life sciences unveils with $350M

Dimension debuted dramatically today with claims that it's the first sector specialist firm taking aim at the intersection of tech and life sciences. Along with an oversubscribed fund of $350 million in hand, the VC touts the lofty goal of bridging the gap between the present and the future.  

The firm is aiming to fund the entire journey of medicine development, from start to finish, merging molecular and biological sciences with the computer sciences in hopes of transforming healthcare. Dimension already has three biotechs on its books: plant-powered drug discovery company Enveda Biosciences; cloud-based research platform company Kaleidoscope Bio; and, which provides open-source software infrastructure for drug R&D.

The VC is co-founded by Nan Li, who left Obvious Ventures last March to launch the company alongside Adam Goulburn, Ph.D., and Zavain Dar, both of whom moved across from Lux Capital. In a letter written to entrepreneurs on their newly launched site, the three founders said that during their time at their respective VCs, they “simultaneously bore witness to a growing gap between visionary builders and outdated venture models—capital increasingly serving as a lagging indicator, not forcing function, of fundamental innovation.”

While the cofounders acknowledged that the launch of Dimension comes amid the first venture bear market in 15 years, they claimed that they stand firm in the belief that the long-term potential of tech and science is independent of market cycles.

“There's so much conversation right now around companies trading below cash and the state of the XBI,” Li told Fierce Biotech last week. “I just think that it's so short-sighted and it glosses over so many more interesting things that are going on in terms of personnel changes in the industry. What we're seeing, what I believe in, is that the entire field of life science is going through this sort of generational retooling."

The new VC is designed to partner with entrepreneurs digitalizing life sciences at the earliest moments of company formation, according to the letter.  

"This kind of intersection of technology and life sciences has been long promised, but there are just so many slow-baking projects and initiatives that are reading out soon,” Li explained. “There should be a lot of cause for optimism and we can get out of this sort of public market monitoring mode that it seems the industry has been in.”

That being said, Li acknowledged the capital markets can't be ignored completely, noting that there’s a middle ground between investing enough in companies—specifically platform companies—so they can flourish, and those companies still needing to prove the worth of their science.

“Tomorrow’s biotech will no longer be formed by a team of two: a biologist and a chemist, but instead a team of three: a biologist, chemist and computer scientist,” they predict in their letter. Whether their vision becomes widespread remains to be seen, but they certainly aren't underselling it, describing “a radical shift” in the life sciences they argue could resemble “the internet in 1995 or the cloud in 2007.”  

Max Bayer contributed to this report.