Biotech startup Cradle raises $24 million in Series A funding and signs partnerships with industry leaders

Biotech startup Cradle raises $24 million in Series A funding and signs partnerships with industry leaders

Cradle, the biotech startup that uses generative AI to help scientists design and engineer proteins, today announces it has raised $24 million in Series A funding, led by Index Ventures with participation from Kindred Capital. Leading angel investors also participated in the round, including Chris Gibson, co-founder and CEO of Recursion and Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters and Lead Director, Merck. Today’s funding takes the total raised by Cradle to date to $33 million.

Since exiting stealth in 2022, Cradle has seen strong demand for its AI for biology technology and demonstrated the effectiveness of its platform in significantly reducing the time and cost of research and development when designing a protein-based product.  

Accelerating the design and optimization of proteins

The company has already onboarded nine leading industry partners in the past year including Janssen Research & Development, Novozymes, and Twist Bioscience. It is now working on more than 12 research and development projects focused on engineering a wide range of protein modalities including enzymes, vaccines, peptides and antibodies across a broad spectrum of desired protein properties, such as stability, expression, activity, binding affinity and specificity.

Results to date show that Cradle’s technology can drastically speed up the design and optimization of proteins with fewer, more successful experiments. Most projects progress two times faster using Cradle’s platform compared to industry benchmarks.

Cradle’s technology also increases the chances of success of specific R&D programs as its generative AI capabilities is able to find solutions to protein engineering challenges that humans are not capable of finding with existing tools.

These advances represent significant real-world gains when it comes to research and development of biological products, a process which has historically been extremely costly and time consuming. For example, biopharma companies spend an average of $22m and 42 months on R&D to get a single potential product ready for clinical testing, with only around 35% of programs progressing to clinical trials at all.

Cradle’s progress since its seed funding round in November 2022 demonstrates the company’s ability to deliver on its founding mission: to unleash the potential of bio-based products by making it easier, quicker and more cost effective for scientists and experimentalists to engineer proteins that can be used in new therapeutics or to produce almost anything.

Using generative AI to create products for human and planetary health

Biology can be used to create a huge range of products across a wide range of industries; from medicines or sustainable alternatives to food products, to detergents and plastics made without petrochemicals, raw materials for clothing or electronics, or even more complex products such as enzymes that can break down plastics and other pollutants or emissions.

Cradle has built an easy to use web-based software that any team of scientists and experimentalists can use, without help from a bio-informatician or machine learning engineer. The software helps break down traditional data roadblocks that challenge biotechnology companies to make their data available to use Generative AI and ML tools that will accelerate R&D pipelines. Cradle’s proprietary generative AI models trained on billions of protein sequences as well as data generated in their own wet laboratory.  

Investing in growth, product development and additional research capabilities

Cradle will use its Series A funding to accelerate its growth, expand its world class machine learning and biotech team and continue to invest in its product development and sales capabilities.

The Cradle team is currently 20 people, split between Delft, The Netherlands and Zurich, Switzerland, with plans to expand its team in 2024. The company also plans to build out additional laboratory and engineering facilities in Amsterdam, helping to add capacity to accelerate its research and generate more data which can be used to train AI models.

The company will also continue to develop its platform to allow it to onboard more customers, in line with growing demand, and to continue to evolve its user experience to ensure the platform is intuitive and accessible for scientists and experimentalists without a machine learning background.

Stef van Grieken, Cradle’s CEO and Co-Founder, said, “Biological products are one of the biggest tools we can deploy to  improve health outcomes and reduce the environmental impact of human consumption. By using generative AI and machine learning to help biologists design and optimise proteins faster and more efficiently, we can help research and development teams innovate faster, spend less and ultimately be more successful in developing new products. In the last year we’ve been focused on demonstrating that our technology can deliver meaningful results and initiating partnerships with a number of true industry leaders. We’re thrilled with the progress to date and are excited to have closed our Series A, which gives us everything we need to build on this momentum, accelerate our growth and onboard more customers to our platform.”

Cradle works closely with Index Ventures Partners Sofia Dolfe and Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas. Dolfe commented on the news, adding, “The application of AI in biology will be transformational, helping to solve some of the biggest health and climate challenges. The early results, from projects run by companies with some of the largest R&D budgets globally, indicate that Cradle’s technology is already dramatically accelerating the pace of innovation in a field that will reshape how we produce much of what we consume. The team has continued to rapidly expand the capabilities of its platform to meet significant customer demand. It’s exciting to see how scientists leverage Cradle to design new proteins and advance this emerging field of programming biology.”