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Funding news: AI-fueled drug discovery startup and auto safety company raise cash

The news: Variational AI, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company leveraging artificial intelligence to help develop new small molecule drugs, has raised $3.5…

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This article was originally published by GeekWire
Variational AI CEO Handol Kim. (Variational AI Photo)

The news: Variational AI, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company leveraging artificial intelligence to help develop new small molecule drugs, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding.

The tech: Variational AI’s Enki software generates novel molecular structures using its algorithms trained on a set of molecules screened against drug targets from both experimental and computational sources. The six-employee company focuses on generating small molecules and has partnerships with an undisclosed public biopharma company, the University of British Columbia, and others.

The field: Advances in biomedical science and artificial intelligence have combined to spawn efforts at drug design and discovery in the last several years. Researchers are training their machine learning engines on databases of drugs and their targets to help build new or improved compounds.

The people: CEO Handol Kim co-founded the company in 2019 with CTO Jason Rolphe and three of the company’s machine learning researchers, Ali Saberali, Mehran Khodabandeh and Zaccary Alperstein. Kim previously co-founded three other companies in the mobile marketing and AI areas.

Leveraging new tools: As part of its software, Variational AI will leverage tools developed by Alphabet’s DeepMind and the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design, led by David Baker. The tools have stunned scientists with their speed and accuracy at predicting protein folding. “We can make us of the innovations from Deepmind/Baker Lab since they’re illuminating new targets. Our approach generates novel molecules that bind to these targets – so it helps us,” Kim told Geekwire in an email.

Jostling with big players and new upstarts: Companies harnessing AI for drug discovery focus on different strategies. Seattle-based Cyrus Biotechology and A-Alpha Bio focus on therapeutic proteins with tech spun out of the IPD. Pharma companies have shown interest in the new protein-folding tools, and Alphabet launched Isomorphic Laboratories this month to leverage them in small molecule and protein-based drug discovery. 

Variational AI uses an approach similar to InSilico Medicine, Genesis Therapeutics and Valence Discovery, said Kim. Its software goes beyond pulling out key compounds from existing databases, and instead outputs new compounds with potentially enhanced properties. Variational AI accomplishes the task with less starting data, said Kim. Instead of licensing its platform, Variational AI aims to develop and license its own compounds.

The backers: Flying Fish Ventures, Alliance of Angels and A&E Investments led the funding round, with participation from company advisors Lip-Bu Tan and Amarjit Gill. The new funding builds on $1 million (CAD) from the Digital Technology Supercluster, a Canadian government-funded innovation centre, and $210,000 (CAD) from angel investors and the University of British Columbia Seed Fund (Saberali and Alperstein were UBC graduate students).

The future: Digital Variational AI will use the new cash to accelerate its discovery programs for COVID-19, cancer and other diseases and to hire employees in medicinal chemistry, cheminformatics, and machine learning. It will also recruit a scientific advisory board.

More deals:

Moment Energy CEO Sumreen Rattan. (Moment Energy Photo)

Clean energy startup Moment Energy raised $3.5 million. Wondering what will happen to all those batteries as electric vehicles wear out? Moment Energy has a plan: The Vancouver, B.C.-based startup is creating energy storage systems from upcycled vehicle storage batteries.

“Moment Energy is uniquely positioned to address three large and rapidly growing global challenges: electric vehicle (EV) battery waste, energy storage demand growth, and global lithium material shortage,” said Sumreen Rattan, co-founder and COO, in a statement. Other co-founders are Gabriel Soares, and Gurmesh Sidhu, who previously worked together with Rattan to design and create electric race vehicles as part of a program at Simon Fraser University.

Version One Ventures led the seed round with participation from Fika Ventures, Garage Capital and MCJ Collective.  

PreAct Technologies has raised $13 million for tech to predict vehicle crashes and protect occupants. The Portland, Ore.-based startup uses near-field sensors to help sense a vehicle’s surroundings and respond, for instance by deploying airbags earlier and adjusting seating positions. The tech was originally developed to protect military vehicles from missiles.

PreAct also recently won $1 million in investment from New York state through a competition administered via a Rochester, N.Y.-based business accelerator, NextCorps. The company plans to establish a manufacturing base in the state.

The funding round was led by State Farm Ventures, with participation from Elev8.VC, Gotham Partners, Traylor Capital, Stargazer Ventures, and others. The funding builds on a $1.6 million round in December.



Energy & Critical Metals

TotalEnergies launches 55MW solar PV plant in France

TotalEnergies, has launched its largest solar photovoltaic power plant in France, with a capacity of 55MW.
The post TotalEnergies launches 55MW solar PV…

Global energy company TotalEnergies has launched its largest solar photovoltaic power plant in France, with a capacity of 55MW.

The solar farm, located northeast of Gien (Loiret), comprises 126,000 photovoltaic panels spread over 75 hectares.

The plant will produce approximately 64GWh per year, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 38,000 people and keep more than 550,000 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere during its lifetime.

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This photovoltaic project is designed to support the development of renewable energies in France and includes:

  • A participative financing model: To involve site neighbours, the plant was built with participative financing amounting to €2,200,200 ($2,500,00) to which 212 residents of the Loiret and surrounding departments largely contributed.
  • A plan to protect biodiversity: The Company has put in place the measures required to preserve biodiversity, including the creation of bat shelters and the construction of a pond to promote amphibian reproduction.

TotalEnergies teams will operate and maintain the plant locally throughout its 30-year operating lifespan.

“This commissioning contributes to France’s energy transition and is a further step towards our goal of reaching 4GW of renewable generation capacity by 2025. It reinforces our commitment to be a major player in renewable energy in France,” said Thierry Muller, CEO of TotalEnergies Renewables France.

TotalEnergies Lubrifiants will be exhibiting at Enlit Europe in Milan at Stand 16.A52. If you are attending the exhibition, feel free to visit the booth and meet the team.

Enlit Europe logo in black

We can’t wait to see you in Milan

Enlit Europe will bring the energy community together during the live event in Milan (30 November – 2 December 2021). Register here

The post TotalEnergies launches 55MW solar PV plant in France appeared first on Power Engineering International.

Author: Pamela Largue

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Energy & Critical Metals

Renault Unveils Flying Car For Travel On Sky Highways 

Renault Unveils Flying Car For Travel On Sky Highways 

French automaker Renault has unveiled a flying car for the 60th anniversary of the…

Renault Unveils Flying Car For Travel On Sky Highways 

French automaker Renault has unveiled a flying car for the 60th anniversary of the iconic Renault 4.  

Renault teamed up with Miami-based design firm TheArsenale to create the flying car based on an updated version of the 4 (also known as the 4L or “quatrelle”), which began production in 1961 and concluded in 1992. The modern version of the 4 sits on top of the drone frame. “AIR4 is a symbol of independence and freedom, born out of the realization that traffic is compounding, lives are grinding to a halt, and the world above us is unhampered,” Renault wrote.

TheArsenale wrote, “a symbol of independence and freedom in carbon-fiber form, the AIR4 is born of the realization that traffic is compounding, lives are grinding to a halt, but the world above us is clear.” 

The specifications of the AIR4 show it’s powered by 22,000mAh lithium-polymer batteries, which means it can fly around at speeds of 55 mph and have a total lifting capacity of around 840 pounds. There was no mention of flight time. 

AIR4 is expected to be showcased at the Atelier Renault museum in Paris and worldwide, including Miami, New York, and Macau in 2022. 

“After a year-long celebration, we wanted to create something unconventional to close up the 60th anniversary of 4L,” said Arnaud Belloni, Renault’s marketing boss. “This collaboration with The Arsenale was a natural fit. The flying show car AIR4 is something unseen and a wink to how this icon could look like in another 60 years.”

This past summer, Renault announced the Renault 4 will be re-released in an electrified version by 2025. The automaker plans to have up to 90% of cars sold under its brand to be electric by 2030. As for the AIR4, there was no word if the flying car would go into series production. 

Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/30/2021 – 04:15

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Energy & Critical Metals

IPO Watch: Lithium explorer Winsome Resources listed today – here’s how it performed

Two companies IPOd today but the biggest winner was lithium explorer Winsome Resources (ASX:WR1) who listed after raising a tidy … Read More
The post…

Two companies IPOd today but the biggest winner was lithium explorer Winsome Resources (ASX:WR1) who listed after raising a tidy $18 million at $0.20 per share.

The company’s shares were trading at 26 cents per share near close of play –  a healthy 30% above issue price.

Funds from the IPO will accelerate the company’s exploration at its three project areas – Cancet, Adina and Sirmac-Clappierin the James Bay Region of Quebec Province, Canada.

The aim is to establish a maiden resource of high quality spodumene concentrate that is suitable for conversion across multiple battery applications.

Notably, the most advanced project – Cancet – is a shallow, high grade lithium deposit and is strategically located close to established infrastructure and supply chains.

Plus, the company says that Quebec is one of the world’s most supportive, lowest risk mining regions, renowned for its world-class infrastructure and support for mining developments and is at the forefront of the North American push to develop its own EV battery supply chain.

Winsome managing director Chris Evans was previously MD of FireFinch (ASX:FFX) and COO of Altura Mining (ASX:AJM) – so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about when he says it’s an exciting time to be exploring for lithium.

“Current trends show up to 10 times more lithium is required in the next decade to meet the demand and it is going to require a huge investment to get there,” Evans said.

“With more than 99 per cent of the world’s lithium reserves located in Australia, Argentina, Chile and China, our projects offer jurisdictional diversity and opportunity to contribute to the expanding North American battery industry.”


 

Biome Australia (ASX:BIO)

Also listing today was microbiome health company Biome Australia, who licences, develops and markets innovative, evidence-based, complementary medicines, including nutraceuticals (food-based vitamins and weight management products) and live biotherapeutics (probiotics).

The company IPOd at $8 million at $0.20 per share, and its shares were trading at 11 cents per share – a huuuge 41.25% drop below the issue price.

Biome will use the funds to accelerate new product development and commercialisation in the complementary medicines industry – which it says in Australia is estimated to be worth $5.69 billion.

The company currently distributes 22 products through more than 2,300 community pharmacies and a range of health practitioners and health food stores in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, with some of its products also available online.

“While supporting health professionals to improve patient health outcomes, Biome has doubled its revenue over each of the last two financial years, with annualised sales revenue to October 2021 showing continued growth,” chairman Ilario Faenza said.

It has a clear growth strategy that will be propelled by the IPO proceeds, accelerating commercialisation and product development.”


 

The post IPO Watch: Lithium explorer Winsome Resources listed today – here’s how it performed appeared first on Stockhead.



Author: Emma Davies

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