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Bristol’s CellVoyant raises £7.6m to predict stem cell behaviour with AI

CellVoyant raises £7.6m to predict stem cell behaviour with AI
Image credit: Motion Drama / Shutterstock

Bristol-based biotech startup CellVoyant has secured £7.6m in funding to commercialise its imaging technology that uses AI to predict the behaviour of live stem cells.

Founded in 2021 as a spinout from the University of Bristol, CellVoyant has created a patent-pending platform that extracts information from “hundreds of millions of cells within complex mixtures”.

This, says CellVoyant, can help scientists gain a better understanding of cell mixtures and how they will evolve.

In doing so, scientists could find the best way to separate stem cells into specific types such as nerve, cardiac or blood.

CellVoyant claims this can reduce failure rates, costs and time to regulatory approval.

Stem cell treatments have shown potential for treating chronic diseases like cancer.

“Cell therapies have the potential to revolutionise the way we treat diseases that affect millions of people every year,” said Rafael E. Carazo Salas, CEO and founder of CellVoyant.

“By combining the latest advances in AI and live cell imaging, we can help bring these transformative treatments to the market quickly, reliably, and cost-effectively.”

CellVoyant will use the influx of capital to double the number of scientists and machine learning engineers at the spinout and expand its laboratory space.

The seed funding round was led by Octopus Ventures. Horizons Ventures, Verve Ventures, and Air Street Capital also provided investment.

It follows a £2.2m pre-seed round in December 2021.

“University spinouts like CellVoyant are at the heart of the UK’s thriving biotech ecosystem,” said Uzma Choudry, lead biotech investor at Octopus Ventures.

“CellVoyant sets a new standard in precision and reliability for predicting and controlling stem cell behaviour, which will make cell therapies more accessible to those who need them.”

Last year the Treasury published an independent review into the UK’s spinout ecosystem. It made recommendations on the levels of equity that universities should take in spinouts, and was widely welcomed by the tech industry.

Read more: Bristol and Bath regional tech report