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nference Scores $11M to Strengthen AI for Life Sciences


How the start-up hopes its software platform will transform R&D.

ai life sciences,nference,nference series a,nference pharma,hca news

With an injection of $11 million in Series A financing, a start-up called nference is hoping to shake up the life-sciences industry through its artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

Founded in 2013, the company aims to “synthesize the exponentially growing biomedical knowledge,” using neural networks to glean insights from scientific literature, genomics, and real-world evidence, according to the announcement. To date, nference has raised $14 million in funding in pursuit of that goal, according to the start-up tracker Crunchbase.

“Natural language is the connective fabric across all therapeutic areas and support functions of large pharmaceutical companies,” Venky Soundararajan, PhD, the organization’s founder and chief scientific officer, said in a statement, adding that nference’s goals would change life sciences. “This presents a paradigm shift toward hypothesis-free scientific research and AI-augmented [research and development] R&D decision making.”

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The company plans to use the fruits of its Series A round to continue the development of its AI and R&D software platforms. Through these projects, nference aims to identify emerging targets, map out paths for disease processes, stratify patients in clinical trials, and prioritize drugs that are in development, according to the company.

“The nference AI technology is enabling an important step forward in digitizing biology,” noted Diego Miralles, MD, a former Johnson & Johnson innovation head who advises the start-up.

What’s more, the money will help expand its scientific operations in Cambridge, Massachusetts and launch nference Labs in Bangalore, India, according to the announcement.

Matrix Partners led the funding round. Matrix Captial Management, an existing investor, also contributed to the effort.

Along with the money came a newly established advisory board to help guide nference as it pursues its ambitious goals. The body includes a number of scientists and physicians from prestigious institutions, such as Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Mayo Clinic.

And the start-up already has a relationship with Mayo Clinic. Last year, the 2 organizations founded Qrativ, a vehicle through which they “purpose clinically tested therapeutic programs for more optimal disease processes with significant unmet need.” In that vein, nference intends to strike additional partnerships with big-name healthcare and pharma institutions.

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