Akili inks $1B SPAC deal to take prescription video game tech public

Less than two years after scoring its first FDA clearance, Akili Interactive is betting big on its digital therapeutic technology.

The Massachusetts-based company has signed a reverse-merger deal with Social Capital Suvretta Holdings Corp. I—a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that completed a $220 million IPO last summer—to make its own public debut. Once the deal is complete, the combined company will operate under the Akili name and trade on the Nasdaq as “AKLI.”

At the close of the transaction, the newly public Akili is expecting to boast a total equity value of about $1 billion. The transaction is forecast to be finalized sometime around the middle of this year.

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According to the startup, the SPAC deal will help ramp up the commercial launch of EndeavorRx, Akili’s FDA-cleared and CE marked program designed to improve attention function in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Plus, the proceeds from the transaction and Akili’s subsequent public debut will help speed up development of its other digital therapeutics to treat symptoms associated with a range of neuropsychiatric diseases including multiple sclerosis, autism, depression and more.

Those proceeds are expected to tally up to $412 million, including a $162 million private investment round from several new and existing backers that Akili is planning to close in the lead-up to the reverse merger.

The bulk of the private round, $100 million, will come from Social Capital, parent company of Akili’s SPAC partner, while the remaining $62 million has already been pledged by a group of investors that includes Averill Strategy, Apeiron Investment Group, Temasek, Polaris Partners, Evidity Health Capital, Jazz Venture Partners, Omidyar Technology Ventures and PureTech Health, which helped establish Akili in 2011.

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Akili’s EndeavorRx technology in 2020 became the first prescription video game cleared by the FDA. The system tasks children with ADHD between the ages of eight and 12 with working their way through multiple levels of an interactive game filled with sensory stimuli and motor challenges that have been clinically proven to activate the parts of the brain linked to attention.

Clinical trial results included in the FDA submission showed that playing the game—which relies on an internal algorithm to constantly adapt to fit each player’s needs and abilities—can alleviate ADHD symptoms, with about 50% of parents reporting improvements in their child’s day-to-day symptoms and nearly 60% saying the game improved attention.

Since garnering the groundbreaking FDA nod, Akili has proceeded on a path of rapid growth. Last May, it blew its own previous fundraising tally out of the water, closing a series D funding round worth $110 million. And the following August, it shelled out about a third of that amount to license a new portfolio of attention-improving digital therapeutics from Tali Digital.