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Longevity start-ups: 10 to watch in 2020

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CNBC, a US television business news channel and website compiles a list of 100 of the most-promising venture-backed start-ups: Upstart100

With our Longevity focus firmly in place, we’ve sifted the top 100 to create our own top ten of start-ups in the Longevity field that we think will be ones to watch in 2020. It must be that time of the year!

1. Beddr

In 2017 McKinsey & Co estimated the sleep-health industry to be worth approximately $30 billion – $40 billion [1]. It’s no wonder, then, that Beddr is doing so well; after all, nearly a billion people around the world suffer from sleep apnoea [2], a condition that can raise the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, all life-limiting conditions.

Beddr’s Sleep Tuner combines an FDA-cleared sleep sensor with a telemedicine network of sleep physicians and behavioral sleep coaches. It’s a one-stop digital sleep coach designed to help people sleep better and consists of a postage-stamp sized tracker that is worn on the forehead. The tracker measures sleeping position, “stopped breathing events”, oxygen levels, heart rate and sleep durations. Getting more and better quality sleep is an easy way to boost your Longevity, so we expect this gadget, which has already raised $5.6m in funding, to create a buzzzzz.

Beddr start-ups
Image credit: Beddr

2. BookDoc

BookDoc started in Malaysia and now operates in 20 cities there, as well as Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong. It’s an online platform that allows users to book healthcare appointments, as well as chatting with clinicians.

BookDoc also encourages its users to stay active by rewarding them for moving about. Older people often delay going to the doctor [3], so finding a way to meaningfully engage them in their own health will help catch problems earlier and boost Longevity.

Dato’ Chevy Beh BookDoc CEO start-up
Image credit: BookDoc

3. Deep Genomics

With over $20m raised in funding [4] and boasting Khosla Ventures and True Ventures among its investors, Deep Genomics is going places. Headquartered in Toronto, Deep Genomics uses AI and machine learning to develop lifesaving drugs by combining pathways biomarkers, toxicology, DNA and cell machinery.

The company’s Project Saturn team are evaluating, in silico, over 69 billion molecules against 1 million targets and generating a library of 1000 tried and tested compounds that can be used in future drugs. With their switched-on view that the “future of drug development will rely on artificial intelligence, because biology is too complex for humans to understand,” it’s no wonder Deep Genomics were named 2020 Life Science Company of the Year.

Deep Genomics start-ups
Image credit: Deep Genomics

4. IllumiCare

Based in Alabama, IllumiCare uses its proprietary Smart Ribbon technology to provide medical staff with real-time data. It combines actionable clinical and financial intelligence into a nonintrusive ribbon of information that integrates into the user’s electronic medical record device, meaning they can use a single point-of-care platform.

The system will ensure clinicians have more information at their disposal, leading to more accurate diagnoses and more relevant therapies which will improve both healthspan and lifespan.

IllumiCare
Image credit: IllumiCare

5. Locus Biosciences

Both Artis Ventures and Tencent Holdings have invested in Locus Biosciences a company that is developing precision antibacterial products using their CRISPR-Phage (“crPhage”) platform. This technology “combines the antibacterial power of CRISPR-Cas3 with the efficient, safe delivery of bacterial viruses called bacteriophage [5].”

crPhage can selectively remove unwanted bacteria while leaving the many species of good bacteria intact, which means it can address antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and the “growing set of diseases shown to be related to the human microbiome”. CRISPR technology, a simple but powerful tool for editing genomes, is a darling of the headlines, so it no surprise that it has raised $26m.

Locus Biosciences start-up
Image credit: Locus Biosciences

6. Mammoth Biosciences

Another CRISPR-based start-up is Mammoth Biosciences. Mammoth is working on the world’s first CRISPR-based disease-detection platform. Similar to Google, the platform seeks out nucleic acids that might indicate disease, sensing any strand of DNA and RNA with molecular-level accuracy.

Mammoth’s USP is to make disease detection accessible and affordable for all, not only in the healthcare sector, but in agriculture , forensics and manufacturing. Mammoth has raised over $24m, with key investors including Mayfield Fund and NFX.

Mammoth Biosciences start-up
Image credit: Mammoth Biosciences

7. NeuroFlow

Mental health is a hot topic and NeuroFlow are in the mix with their a digital health platform. It is cleverly optimised to help mental health patients monitor their well-being, which it does by using patient-generated data such as biometrics, questionnaires and journaling.

Because the HIPAA-compliant platform is cloud-based, it allows remote monitoring and behavioural health integration in a range of disciplines, including psychology, primary care and pain management. The SXSW accelerator is a notable early backer and Builders VC, among others, is also onboard, with funding so far at $11m. An Oxford University study showed that serious mental illnesses reduce life expectancy by 10 to 20 years [6], so being able to foster good mental health is key for Longevity.

Neuroflow start-up
Image credit: Neuroflow

8. Proscia

Using AI-powered computational pathology software, Proscia is on a mission to transform cancer diagnosis and research. By deploying intelligent software through its Concentriq digital platform, the company is improving patient outcomes, accelerating the development of lifesaving cancer treatments and radically transforming pathology practice.

Concentriq allows health-care professionals to leverage new data not previously visible to the human eye. Key investors include Flybridge Capital Partners and Robin Hood Ventures and Proscia has raised a total of $12.3m in funding over 2 rounds.

Proscia
Image credit: Proscia

9. Seed Health

Seed Health is a microbial sciences company that harnesses bacteria for live biotherapeutics and consumer innovations. Aiming to create dietary supplements that will improve a range of health outcomes, they have launched a “Daily Synbiotic” that combines naturally-occurring probiotics strains with new non-fermenting prebiotic compounds that benefit skin health, heart health, gut immune function, gut barrier integrity, and micronutrient synthesis.

Investors in Seed include Greycroft and Wisdom VC and they have raised an undisclosed sum which included nearly $3m in 2019. As healthcare costs rocket, over-the-counter Longevity solutions are becoming more and more attractive to investors and patients, so we think that investment in Seed will continue to take root.

Seed Health start-up
Image credit: Seed Health

10. Viz.AI

Strokes are the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability globally [7]; Viz.AI wants to change that. Using AI to reduce both the time needed to access life-saving therapies and the time taken to implement them, the company aims to synchronise stroke care with a HIPAA-compliant mobile interface.

Using investment from include GV, Innovation Endeavors and Kleiner Perkins, the AI-powered tool will detect strokes and alert stroke teams as well as alerting the team to completed CT perfusion studies, as well as allowing realtime consultation between healthcare professionals.

Viz.AI
Image credit: Viz.AI

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/12/sleep-tech-start-ups-hope-to-help-americans-get-enough-shut-eye.html
[2] https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanres/PIIS2213-2600(19)30198-5.pdf
[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/britons-avoid-doctor-fear-bad-news-receive-a8211791.html
[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/12/why-canada-is-becoming-a-start-up-mecca-rivaling-silicon-valley.html
[5] https://www.locus-bio.com/
[6] http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-05-23-many-mental-illnesses-reduce-life-expectancy-more-heavy-smoking
[7] https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/94/9/16-181636/en/

Image credit: Meravlux from Pixabay

Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.
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