CellVoyant, a MedTech spinout from the University of Bristol, has raised a £7.6 million seed round to pioneer the use of AI in the development of stem cell therapies.

Led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from Horizons Ventures, Verve Ventures, and Air Street Capital, the funding marks the first stage in commercialising CellVoyant’s AI and imaging platforms. 

The company aims to enable the cost-effective, reliable, and rapid development of novel cell therapies. Stem cells unlock a range of treatment possibilities that have not previously been available to patients. Current treatment options act on the body’s existing cells, while stem cells can develop into many different cell types in the body – regenerating damaged tissues and organs or replacing dysfunctional and dead cells.

There are already promising potential applications in chronic diseases, such as cancer, and metabolic diseases like diabetes and age-related macular degeneration. In future, stem cells could be used to alleviate currently untreatable conditions like dementia, fertility, and spinal cord injury.

Stem cell biology is complex and unpredictable, and producing pure, viable populations of stem cell derivatives at clinical scale can be slow and challenging: 84% of cell therapy assets fail within two years of development, and 47% of cell therapy assets still fail after the five-year point in development.

CellVoyant’s platform – powered by patent-pending technology FateView and FateCast – combines advanced AI with live cell imaging to address these pain points. Its technology can extract spatial and temporal information in real-time from hundreds of millions of cells within complex cell mixtures, helping scientists understand their composition and forecast how they will evolve. 

This allows them to forecast stem cell behaviour with unprecedented precision and find optimal pathways for differentiating cells into specific cell types, such as nerve, cardiac or blood, facilitating more effective development of cell therapies.

CellVoyant says its technology will improve target cell yields, reduce time and offer potential savings of $10-100m per therapy.

“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. 

“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. Today’s milestone validates the potential of our approach and will help us to accelerate our R&D capabilities.”

Uzma Choudry, lead BioTech Investor at Octopus Ventures, said: “University spin-outs like CellVoyant are at the heart of the UK’s thriving BioTech ecosystem. 

“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. We are thrilled to invest into a company that is transforming how patients can benefit from life-changing treatments.”

BioTech titan joins Cambridge startup Nuclera

The proceeds from this funding round will be used to significantly increase headcount, expand laboratory and experimental infrastructure, and support R&D.

Founded in 2021, CellVoyant previously secured £2.2m in pre-seed funding in December 2021.

Bristol Startups 2.0