PureTech reels in $55M to fund new biotech bets

Biotech startup machine PureTech has raised a $55 million round to fund the next stage of its evolution, recruiting some big thinkers to help it advance its stable of ventures and develop new technologies.

The new funds, courtesy of the mammoth Invesco Perpetual and other backers, will help PureTech in its quest to better unite the worlds of digital technology and molecular biology. Among the company's pipeline ventures are Tal Medial, a FierceMedicalDevices Fierce 15 winner developing a noninvasive treatment for depression; Akili Interactive Labs, at work on a video game with potential to treat ADHD that has attracted the attention of Pfizer ($PFE) and Shire ($SHPG); and Gelesis, which is honing a pill that can expand in the gut and curb patients' appetites.

Robert Langer

Alongside the raise, PureTech has expanded its leadership, appointing MIT's Robert Horovitz, a Nobel laureate, to serve as senior partner. Joining him are Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, and Harvard's Raju Kucherlapati, a co-founder of Millennium Pharmaceuticals. The three join founders and senior partners including MIT professor and famed biotech entrepreneur Robert Langer, PureTech CEO Daphne Zohar, and John LaMattina, the former head of R&D for Pfizer.

Unlike other industry investors, PureTech's approach to biotech entrepreneurship is not dependent on external innovation. Instead, the group begins by identifying a problem in healthcare and breaking it down to its core attributes, tapping its wide range of on-hand expertise to spotlight potential solutions. Only then does PureTech look outside its walls, finding the partners necessary to advance the solution and crafting a company to actualize it.

"PureTech has the scientific creativity to really go for the big ideas that can be game changers," Langer said in a statement. "The team dreams up technologies and then makes them happen. It's exciting to have additional resources to drive these important products to market."

Meanwhile, a series of lucrative exits across the industry have made it a good time to be a biotech investor raising money, and a slew of firms have unveiled new funds this year. Over the past few months, Arch Venture Partners, Venrock, Sofinnova Ventures and Versant Ventures have all debuted new raises. The flurry of activity comes on the heels of a year in which mainstays like Abingworth, Frazier Healthcare and Third Rock pulled off successful new raises.

- read the statement