The UK welcomes more tech funding action as Lifebit Biotech and Merkle Science have completed their latest rounds.
While the company names might conjure up similar aspirations, they are in fact very different.
London-based Lifebit is a precision medicine software company and got $60 million (£44.6 million), while Merkle Science is a predictive blockchain monitoring and investigative platform, and picked up $5.75 million (£4.3 million).
Plenty of Life in Lifebit
Lifebit offers access to biomedical data for governments, healthcare providers and research teams worldwide. It was founded in 2017 and offers a suite of AI-powered software solutions.
It completed its Series B funding round, led by investment firm Tiger Global Management. Existing investors Eurazeo, Pentech Ventures and Beacon Capital also participated.
“We believe all biomedical data that can be used to save lives, should be used. People are dying because of how this data is being handled, and making distributed highly-sensitive biomedical data usable while keeping it secure in-place and combining it with other data has never been possible. Until now,” says Dr. Maria Chatzou Dunford, Lifebit CEO and former bioinformatics researcher.
According to the company, there has been a rapid growth of biomedical data in recent years – estimates suggest that by 2025, 500 million human genomes will have been sequenced, amassing more data than YouTube and Twitter combined.
However, Lifebit cites the World Economic Forum, which states that 97% of all data produced by hospitals each year goes untouched.
Lifebit senses a productive life in the healthcare sector for its “federated” technology as it makes biomedical data findable, usable and actionable.
The firm builds enterprise data platforms for use, in-house; and it brings the researchers’ analysis and computation to where the data resides, “thus removing the inherent risks involved with moving data between systems”.
It has been busy and mentions a recent contract for the implementation of Hong Kong’s first population-scale genome sequencing initiative, the Hong Kong Genome Project, as well as a long-term AI-partnership with German pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim.
Lifebit also won the UK government contract to power Genomics England with its 135,000-strong cohort of cancer, rare disease and COVID-19 patient data.
The funding will be used for unspecified global expansion and recruitment. Its website has plenty of job vacancies for engineers – such as DevOps, frontend, backend and ML/NLP.
Merkle Makes Moves on UK and US
Merkle Science closed its Series A round led by Susquehanna-affiliated Darrow Holdings, with participation from Kraken Ventures, Bain-backed Uncorrelated Ventures, and more. Merkle Science also adds Silicon Valley venture investing veteran and Susquehanna’s head of Digital Asset Investment Dean Carlson to its board.
The company was headquartered in Singapore (according to LinkedIn) but due to “institutional interest for cryptocurrencies and compliance in the US”, both the co-founders moved their base to New York as part of Merkle Science’s expansion plans in the US and UK. It has had a presence in the UK since 2019.
Its clients include the UK’s second-largest Bitcoin ATM operator AlphaVend and investigations and due diligence firm Alaco Analytics.
Merkle Science co-founder and CEO, Mriganka Pattnaik, says the funding “gives us great confidence that they are in line with our vision to build the infrastructure necessary to ensure the safe and healthy growth of the crypto industry – starting with understanding the risks associated with cryptocurrency transactions”.
Founded in 2018, Merkle Science says its blockchain monitoring tool uses its proprietary Behavioral Rule Engine to “go beyond the blacklists” – which are “inherently backward-looking” – so that compliance teams may detect illicit activity from their incoming and outgoing cryptocurrency transactions and meet their local KYC/AML compliance obligations.
Merkle Science had a seed round in May 2019, and has clients across APAC, Europe and North America. It has grown its revenue by over 900% and its headcount has tripled in size over the past two years.