Boston’s PureTech has raised a $55 million growth-stage investment round to ramp up its creation of startups targeting some of healthcare’s toughest problems. The science and technology development firm has also appointed three new senior partners, among them MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito.
PureTech is a bit unusual in that it’s not a venture fund or an accelerator, but like a VC firm it does provide money to new startups.
However, all of those companies created from scratch by the PureTech team and are typically owned entirely by PureTech at first.
In an email, founder and CEO Daphne Zohar described the firm this way:
Our focus is on developing new healthcare related products and technologies based on academic and PureTech-generated inventions. We develop those technologies in “programs” that are set up as operating subsidiaries (companies). We structure them as companies so we can sufficiently compensate people who are involved with developing an idea or technology, and also to enable additional outside investment into those programs.
The companies eventually advance to raise funding from other investors—a sum that now totals in the several hundred million dollar range for PureTech companies to date, Zohar said.
Companies launched out of PureTech include Akili Interactive Labs, which is developing an “electronic medicine” platform for remotely treating cognitive disorders such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and Alzheimer’s disease; Gelesis, developer of a pill to treat the physiological symptoms of hunger; and Tal Medical, which aims to “reboot” the electrical circuits in the brain in order to treat depression.
PureTech’s co-founder is Robert Langer, the well-known MIT professor and serial biotech entrepreneur.
Taking part in the new funding round for PureTech is British investment management giant Invesco Perpetual. In a news release, Langer said that PureTech
has the scientific creativity to really go for the big ideas that can be game changers. The team dreams up technologies and then makes them happen. It’s exciting to have additional resources to drive these important products to market.
PureTech has now raised $87 million since its founding in 2001.
Along with Ito, joining the firm as senior partners are Harvard Medical School professor Raju Kucherlapati and MIT professor H. Robert Horvitz.