Nimbus will use $24M round to create a new biotech model

A little biotech start-up in Cambridge, MA with big plans for computational drug discovery work has lined up a $24 million A round with the help of some high-profile investors, including Microsoft's billionaire chairman Bill Gates. Nimbus Discovery reports that it has rounded up $24 million from Gates, SR One--the corporate venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline--and Lilly Ventures, which all joined with the founding investors at Atlas Venture.

Nimbus is building its pipeline on the premise that it has access to the kind of discovery technology can lead them to new drugs that can hit some of the hardest targets in biotech. Its first targets are IRAK4 and ACC for inflammation, cancer and metabolic disease. Nimbus says it has already done significant preclinical work on IRAK4, which has implications for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and inflammation. And there are plans to add to that list of targets before the biotech burns through the Series A cash.

What makes Nimbus unique is its plan to gin up a series of new drug programs, creating individual subsidiaries that can be sold off to pharma companies at an early point of development. An ultra-virtual company that's now two people--CSO Rosanna Kapeller and CBO Jonathan Montagu--Nimbus is using Schrodinger, a company co-founded by Columbia University's Richard Friesner, to provide the platform while Nimbus focuses on product development.

Co-founder "Bruce (Booth, from Atlas) would like an early deal," says Montagu, "to help prove that this is an exciting new model for biotech." It would also start delivering relatively quick returns for the company's investors, as opposed to the standard model of delivering a single big exit with a buyout or IPO.

The round brings two new board members to the company, who will work with Atlas's Booth, the co-founder and chairman. Kent Gossett, a partner at SR One, and Steve Hall, PhD, venture partner at Lilly Ventures, have been named to the board.

"We are excited by the advances that Nimbus has made in unlocking previously intractable targets. We believe that the Nimbus approach can deliver medicines that will transform the treatment of serious disease," Kent said.

- here's the Nimbus release

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