Nicoya’s $ 20 million Series A expansion enables continued development of digital proteomics solution
Nicoya’s solution helps scientists speed up drug discovery.
Health-tech startup Nicoya Lifesciences has raised a significant C $ 20 million Series A extension to assist in the continued development and commercialization of its digital proteomics solution Alto, which helps scientists accelerate the discovery of medications.
Whitecap Venture Partners led the round, which included participation from Agilent Technologies, Export Development Canada, BDC Capital, MaRS IAF, Garage Capital and others.
“Their technology is used every day by scientists who develop life-saving drugs and make key discoveries about common diseases that affect our lives. “
The cycle ended at the end of November. The new funding will go towards the development and commercialization of Nicoya’s (Alto) main product, as well as increasing the size of the startup’s staff.
Nicoya’s core technology is dubbed Alto (not to be confused with Atlas, the COVID-19 test it is developing). The startup claims it is the world’s first surface plasmon resonance (SPR) instrument to integrate digital microfluidics (the science of handling and controlling fluids), artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. The instrument can be used in biotechnology, life sciences and healthcare to measure molecular interactions.
Nicoya’s first product, launched in 2015, was the first bench-top instrument of its kind to measure drug candidates at the molecular level. Its other product, OpenSPR-XT, launched in 2016, is a fully automated molecular analysis instrument based on Nicoya’s OpenSPR instrument.
Ryan Denomme, co-founder and CEO of Nicoya, told BetaKit that the startup decided on a Series A expansion because Nicoya didn’t want to have to seek out a new set of investors at this point. Denomme called the fundraising a long, time-consuming and labor-intensive process, and said the extension cycle would keep Nicoya “hyper-focused” on growing the startup. The Series A and A expansion totaled C $ 30 million in funding for Nicyoa.
“The goal is to be able to get the resources you need to execute the plan,” he said. “It really sets us up for the next stage of business growth after this. “
Whitecap led Nicoya’s Serie A round in addition to the extension. Denomme said he has worked closely with the venture capital firm for the past two years.
“They saw the progress that we have made and the potential that exists for the company,” said Denomme. “They’ve had a lot of chances to see what we can do and are really happy with where we’re going. They see a lot of potential and therefore want to keep investing and supporting the business.
Russell Samuels, Whitecap partner, said Nicoya is building “disruptive” tools for disease research and drug discovery. “Their technology is used every day by scientists who develop life-saving drugs and make key discoveries about common diseases that affect our lives,” he said.
Nicoya’s products are used in around 50 countries around the world, but Denomme said the United States is a big market for Nicoya, so having a presence there is important for the startup. Over the next 12 months, Nicoya is looking to add an additional 30 to 40 positions, ranging from product development to marketing, sales and customer support.
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The laboratory instruments that Nicoya manufactures measure the interactions between molecules in real time. The implications of such technology are significant when it comes to fighting diseases, such as COVID-19, according to Denomme.
The COVID-19 virus has spike proteins on its surface that binds to a cellular receptor known as ACE2. The interaction of these two molecules is what allows the virus to enter cells and replicate itself, Denomme said.
“It is therefore a really essential tool for scientists, not only to understand the fundamentals of the progression of these diseases, but then allows them to design, test and develop effective drugs to treat these diseases,” he said. he declares.
Denomme noted that a number of the startup’s clients use its instruments to study COVID-19, and their lab instruments have also been cited in several academic publications.
Nicoya started as a spin-off from the University of Waterloo in 2012. In 2015, the startup received $ 50,000 at Communitech’s Rev Center Stage pitch event for its Surface Plasmon Resonance solution that tests proteins .
The startup raised $ 2 million in 2018 to further develop its protein analysis technology, followed by another $ 2.57 million investment from FedDev Ontario, to expand its operations and accelerate its growth over time. new markets.
It launched its SPR instrument in 2020 after raising the initial $ 10 million Series A funding. The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program also provided funding to Nicoya to enable the startup to work on its Atlas test for COVID-19. Additionally, in May, the federal government announced $ 2 million in funding for Nicoya for its Atlas product.
The startup says more than 500 of the world’s leading researchers are using its solutions and expects continued expansion in academia, government, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.