Several biotech entrepreneurs have launched a new venture capital vehicle dubbed Curie.bio that will serve not only as a seed investor, but as a drug discovery co-pilot for founders. The company model aims to ultimately give biotechs wings to fly into a successful series A financing round.
The company was co-founded by Zach Weinberg, founder of Flatiron Health (acquired by Roche in 2018), who will steer the VC as CEO. Former Third Rock Ventures Partner Alexis Borisy also helped launch the company and will serve as operating chair, working alongside third co-founder Christoph Lengauer, Ph.D., also formerly of Third Rock, who will serve as chief scientific officer.
The new VC consists of two different entities: an investing vehicle that will provide seed-stage money to startups and a unit that will provide various services to help companies move their science forward. In total, the venture has raised $520 million from an assortment of investors, including GV, ARCH Venture Partners and a16z.
The basis—or landing pad if you will—of Curie.bio is the belief that the key to boosting biotech innovation over the next decade is to create more founders, according to an open letter published on the site. The letter, titled “Free the Founders” explains Curie.bio’s vision to give founders, or “risk takers,” the support they need to launch their science.
“We built what we would want to have if we were starting and building a new biotech company,” Borisy said in a company video.
Curie.bio has already taken at least four companies under its wings, supporting Forward Therapeutics, Astoria Biologica, Decrypt Biomedicine and Differentiated Therapeutics so far.
So how does it work? The company, which has a spot for applicants on its website, selects pre-series A therapeutics companies, with the goal of helping them reach a series A financing round, acquisition and/or partnership.
However, the Curie.bio team made it clear they will be very selective when choosing companies, writing, “Given the substantial amount of work we put into each company we fund, only a very small subset of opportunities we see will receive our seed offer.”
Before even investing, a “pod of Curie co-pilots” will help a biotech develop a seed work plan that includes a budget, timeline, vendor selection, expert recruiting and a roadmap to critical scientific milestones. The co-pilots come from the VC’s team, which is made up of biotech founders, operators and early-stage investors. Collectively, Curie.bio’s team has brought over 60 drugs into the clinic with 12 approvals, founding biotechs that collectively have more than $30 billion in enterprise value, according to the site.
Once Curie.bio chooses to invest in a biotech, the VC will put down $5 million to $7 million, providing the opportunity to raise more capital if necessary.
“We are in the trenches with you on a day-to-day basis operating as fully integrated members of your team,” Curie.bio's letter reads.
Curie.bio is not the only new biotech VC to emerge this year, following the January debut of Dimension, a firm that is taking aim at the intersection of tech and life sciences with $350 million in hand.