BenchSci has raised a $29 million CAD ($22 million USD) Series B funding round led by F-Prime Capital.
The financing round also saw participation from Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI) – backed Northleaf Capital Partners and return investors including Google’s AI venture fund Gradient Ventures, Inovia Capital, Golden Ventures, and Real Ventures.
The Series B follows less than a year after Toronto-based BenchSci extended is Series A round, with a total of $27 million CAD ($20 million USD). The Series A round originally closed in May 2018, with $10 million led by Inovia Capital.
Founded in 2016 by a team of PhD biologists, BenchSci uses machine learning to “target inefficiencies and unnecessary spend” in preclinical scientific research. The idea is to use machine learning to help researchers find reliable antibodies based on data from scientific papers.
On Tuesday, the startup announced the launch of its latest offering, an AI-assisted reagent selection product. Reagents are a compound or mixture that is used to identify whether other chemical substances are present by causing a chemical reaction. BenchSci’s new product is meant to expand its search capabilities to a larger group of chemicals.
BenchSci also announced the expansion of its contract with Novartis, a Switzerland-based global healthcare company. BenchSci claimed that through its contact it is addressing a market worth more than $10.2 billion USD per year in cost savings for life science research and development.
According to the startup, its products are currently used in 15 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies and more than 3,600 academics centres.
The lead investor in the round F-Prime Capital grew out as the venture arm of Fidelity Capital. BenchSci reportedly marks the firm’s first tech investment within Canada. As part of the deal Shervin Ghaemmaghami, senior vice president of F-Prime, will join BenchSci’s board of directors.