Next Sequence, an investment fund incorporated in the US in June 2022, has just launched a first of its kind AI & Quantum accelerator program dedicated to pre-seed and seed stage TechBio startups in Europe and the US.
It is during the session titled “TechBio Trailblazers: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Investments“ at this year’s CogX Festival at the London O2 Arena Loretta Tioiela, the Founder and Managing Partner of Next Sequence, introduced the firm and its origins and presented her vision for the program. As a technologist, Loretta has spent more than 15 years working with Cloud and AI technologies among others. In 2019, she shifted her attention from AI to Bio while working on integrating machine-learning models for a neuroscience startup working on Alzheimer's disease.
As Loretta explained in her talk, she started to realize that there was a fundamental problem in the ability of this startup to leverage data and build machine learning models able to predict early onset of the disease based on blood biomarkers. The main problem was the lack of operational capability at all stages of the data pipeline - from the patient through to the hospitals all the way to the innovators trying to conduct research on the data. Some of these problems, such as the data fragmentation among different stakeholders, were, of course, beyond the repairing ability of the startup, however the need to hire the right talents, the need to build multi disciplinary team bringing together both bio and tech backgrounds, the need for infrastructure to compute these data were all real issues that they were facing. Realizing that this problem was not a ”one startup problem” but an industry wide issue common to anyone conducting life science research in general, Loretta has dedicated the following 2 years to building a community of more than 400 startups, ranging from pre-seed stage to series D, all embracing the vision that tech is coming to bio.
In the special panel on the AI & DeepTech stage at CogX., Loretta has carefully selected two founders from the firm’s unique worldwide ecosystem of more than 2,000 Techbio startups, two founders that perfectly represented the breath of innovation in the industry, above the traditional application of AI. to protein design and drug discovery:
● Rachel Shaw, CEO of Eden Bio, a biomanufacturing company using machine-learning to improve protein yield;
● And Shakiba Kaveh, CEO of Mitra Bio, a cosmetic products company working on unlocking the secrets of skin aging with epigenetics.
Discussing on stage about what would be the ideal training that would provide more talent to the TechBio industry, Loretta explains how, for her, a Computer Scientist who had to pivot from Computing to Biology, it appears preferable to come from a Biology background and then obtain training in Computing rather than the other way around. She argues that data is simply unexploitable until it is given meaning through the eyes of someone who understands the biological mechanisms at play, which is nearly impossible for a data scientist without formal background in biology.
This explains the firm’s structure composed exclusively of profiles with a Master or a PhD diploma in various Biotechnology subtopics, and a specialization in one of the many verticals covered by the TechBio startups within their ecosystem, spanning across Consumer Goods, Drugs & Therapeutics, Food & Agriculture, Climate & Sustainability, Neuroscience, Longevity, Energy, Space and Biosecurity.
Expanding from that discussion, this is a preview into the way that the firm is thinking about how best to serve the ever-growing community of TechBio startups. Next Sequence is integrating itself within the ecosystem supporting founders at any stage of development - from PhD students aspiring to build a company based on their research all the way to established founders in pre-seed or seed stage. The firm’ s focus is to come into the picture after traditional accelerator programs who focus on product positioning and development at the pre-seed and seed stage to help startups leverage computing infrastructure and services to cross the chasm from seed to series A. The accelerator program will aim to achieve this by focusing on the operations and more specifically on the infrastructure and services needed to support a data oriented approach to R&D. With a unique focus on the tech within TechBio, the objective is to carry out some of the heavy lifting at the operational level typically done by the founders by providing in-house bio and computing competencies through the Next Sequence team to build a better product, accelerating market access, and driving initial revenue generation.
Backing that play, the firm is already counting among its partners Jason Roper, Director Channel Sales at Microsoft Azure, and Claude Allaoua, Senior Business Operations Director EMEA at Oracle Cloud, who both have the strong industry and operating experience of leveraging Cloud and A.I. workflows within their respective companies to help these startups address their operational challenges.
A unique accelerator with a very unique team on the starting line, for sure, that intends to offer access to infrastructure and services to most of the known services providers, including already Microsoft, Oracle Cloud and AWS of course, but also in the future to Google Cloud Platform, Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud, or even Huawei Technologies to fast forward research and development for TechBio startups and set forth their vision that our world can be rebuilt for the better through the convergence of tech and biology.
About Next Sequence:
Next Sequence is officially launching the first cohort of its accelerator supporting start-ups from the TechBio ecosystem at the end of September 2023 through a 6-12 months accelerator program taking them from 0 to 1 in leveraging AI or Quantum Computing. Our mission is to contribute to the development of the most disruptive companies who want to enable humanity to face its next challenges as a species - from fighting genetically transmitted diseases and pandemics to increasing longevity and preventing climate change.