Category: Biotech

This Infographic Breaks Down Careers In Finance, From Hedge Funds to M&A


This post is by Aran Ali from Visual Capitalist


Finance Careers infographic

Careers In Corporate Finance, From Hedge Funds to M&A

Corporate finance is a key pillar on which modern markets and economies have been built. And this complex ecosystem consists of a number of important sectors, which can lead to lucrative career avenues.

From lending to investment banking, and private equity to hedge funds, the graphic above by Wall Street Prep breaks down the key finance careers and paths that people can take.

Let’s take a further look at the unique pieces of this finance ecosystem.

The Lending Business

Lending groups provide much needed capital to corporations, often in the form of term loans or revolvers. These can be part of short and long-term operations or for events less anticipated like the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in companies shoring up $222 billion in revolving lines of credit within the first month.

Investment Banking

Next, is investment banking, which can split into three main areas:

  1. Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): There’s a lot of preparation and paperwork involved whenever corporations merge or make acquisitions. For that reason, this is a crucial service that investment banks provide, and its importance is reflected in the enormous fees recognized. The top five U.S. investment banks collect $10.2 billion in M&A advisory fees, representing 40% of the $25 billion in global M&A fees per year.
  2. Loan Syndications: Some $16 billion in loan syndication fees are collected annually by investment banks. Loan syndications are when multiple lenders fund one borrower, which can occur when the loan (Read more...)

Biofuel Mandates: Out of Sync With The New Transportation Landscape



The following content is sponsored by AFPM

Biofuel Mandates: Out of Sync With The New Transportation Landscape

Biofuel Mandates: Out of Sync With Transportation Landscape

In 2005, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was enacted so that transportation fuel like diesel and gasoline will contain renewable fuel. The motives behind this were to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil markets, improve climate initiatives, and bring gas prices down.

However, over time it became evident that the forecasts that the RFS was built on were largely incorrect. This infographic from AFPM dives into the world of biofuel and breaks down why the current policies are out of sync with modern transportation.

But before we begin, let’s first explore the basics of biofuels.

What Is Biofuel?

Biofuel is transportation fuel derived from biological resources, like plants. This is in contrast to fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel, which are made up of nonrenewable petroleum. In addition, biofuels break down into conventional biofuels and advanced ones.

Conventional biofuels are any fuel derived from starch feedstocks like corn and grain. In fact, ethanol derived from corn represents one of the largest components of the biofuel market in America. For instance 97% of gasoline in the U.S. contains ethanol and 94% of that ethanol comes from starch in corn grains.

Advanced biofuels are second generation biofuels. They’re considered more complex, and come from non-food biomass like plant materials and animal waste. More advanced technologies are required to extract fuel from these resources. However, the impact on the food chain is minimized.

Here are two examples of (Read more...)

Avalo uses machine learning to accelerate the adaptation of crops to climate change



Climate change is affecting farming all over the world, and solutions are seldom simple. But if you could plant crops that resisted the heat, cold or drought instead of moving a thousand miles away, wouldn’t you? Avalo helps plants like these become a reality using AI-powered genome analysis that can reduce the time and money it takes to breed hardier plants for this hot century.

Founded by two friends who thought they’d take a shot at a startup before committing to a life of academia, Avalo has a very direct value proposition, but it takes a bit of science to understand it.

Big seed and agriculture companies put a lot of work into creating better versions of major crops. By making corn or rice ever so slightly more resistant to heat, insects, drought or flooding, they can make huge improvements to yields and profits for farmers, or alternatively make a plant viable to grow somewhere it couldn’t before.

“There are big decreases to yields in equatorial areas — and it’s not that corn kernels are getting smaller,” said co-founder and CEO Brendan Collins. “Farmers move upland because salt water intrusion is disrupting fields, but they run into early spring frosts that kill their seedlings. Or they need rust resistant wheat to survive fungal outbreaks in humid, wet summers. We need to create new varieties if we want to adapt to this new environmental reality.”

To make those improvements in a systematic way, researchers emphasize existing traits in the plant; this (Read more...)

BrainQ raises $40M to transform stroke patient rehabilitation with its home therapy device



If you injure your elbow, surgery can help. If you lose a leg, prostheses are available. But problems within the brain are more difficult to treat, and for stroke victims rehabilitation is largely left to the body’s own repair mechanisms. BrainQ aims to change that with a device that stimulates the damaged part of the brain and promotes self-repair, showing enough improvement in studies to warrant a Breakthrough Device certification from the FDA — and the company has just raised $40M to take it to market.

It should be said at the outset that doubting the efficacy of some brainwave-emitting miracle device is natural. And in fact when I spoke with BrainQ’s founder Yotam Drechsler, he reminded me of the last time we’d talked — back in 2017, at which time I “expressed strong skepticism.”

No hard feelings — the tech was largely notional then, he admitted — but since that time the team has continued its work, raised some money, and what was a promising if not well supported thesis then has turned into one backed by firsthand data and clinical outcomes. The resulting system could be the biggest improvement to stroke therapy in decades or more.

Strokes can result in various obvious impairments, such as grip strength or coordination, but of course the injury is not to the hand or leg itself, it is to the networks in the brain that govern those parts. But medical science has no method for directly rebuilding those networks — the (Read more...)

Planted raises another $21M to expand its growing plant-based meat empire (and add schnitzel)



Swiss alternative protein company Planted has raised its second round of the year, a CHF 19M (about $21M at present) “pre-B” fundraise that will help it continue its growth and debut new products. A U.S. launch is in the cards eventually but for now Planted’s exclusively European customers will be able to give its new veggie schnitzel a shot.

Planted appeared in 2019 as a spinoff from Swiss research university ETH Zurich, where the founders developed the original technique of extruding plant proteins and water into fibrous structures similar to real meat’s. Since then the company has diversified its protein sources, adding oat and sunflower to the mix, and developed pulled pork and kebab alternative products as well.

Over time the process has improved as well. “We added fermentation/biotech technologies to enhance taste and texture,” wrote CEO and co-founder Christoph Jenny in an email to TechCrunch. “Meaning 1) we can create structures without form limitation and 2) can add a broader taste profile.”

The latest advance is schnitzel, which is of course a breaded and fried piece of pounded-thin meat style popular around the world, but especially in the company’s core markets of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Jenny noted that Planted’s schnitzel is produced as one piece, not pressed together from smaller bits. “The taste and texture benefit from fermentation approach, that makes the flavor profile mouth watering and the texture super juicy,” he said, though of course we will have to test it to be sure. Expect schnitzel to (Read more...)

Glyphic Biotechnologies raises $6M to accelerate protein sequencing by orders of magnitude



The whole human proteome may be free to browse thanks to DeepMind, but at the bleeding edge of biotech new proteins are made and tested every day, a complex and time-consuming process. Glyphic Biotechnologies accelerates the critical but slow sequencing step, potentially cutting drug development times down by a huge amount, and the startup just raised a $6M seed to bring its clever solution to market.

Proteins are at the heart of many new treatments and products; the ubiquitous and infinitely varied chains of amino acids twist into shapes that interact with cells, substances in the body, and other proteins, doing everything from interpreting DNA to controlling access to secure areas (“sorry, no potassium allowed”).

In the drug discovery and biotech world, proteins represent unlimited possibility — the right one could clamp onto cancer cells, facilitate natural healing processes, or prompt the creation of helpful substances. But finding and testing novel molecules is not easy — and a big part of that is sequencing, which confirms the exact makeup of the protein you’re trying to test.

Right now there are several large companies doing good business in the protein sequencing world, and generally the process involves identifying the amino acid at the end of the protein chain, then snipping it off, identifying the next one, and so on until you’ve done the whole thing.

The trouble with this approach is that the protein’s shape or the molecular properties of the next amino acid in line can interfere with the (Read more...)

Pivot Bio rakes in $430M round D as modified microbes prove their worth in agriculture



Pivot Bio makes fertilizer — but not directly. Its modified microorganisms are added to soil and they product nitrogen that would otherwise have had to be trucked in and dumped there. This biotech-powered approach can save farmers money and time and ultimately may be easier on the environment — a huge opportunity that investors have plowed $430 million into in the company’s latest funding round.

Nitrogen is among the nutrients crops need to survive and thrive, and it’s only by dumping fertilizer on the soil and mixing it in that farmers can keep growing at today’s rates. But in some ways we’re still doing what our forebears did generations ago.

“Fertilizer changed agriculture — it’s what made so much of the last century possible. But it’s not a perfect way to get nutrients to crops,” said Karsten Temme, CEO and co-founder of Pivot Bio. He pointed out the simple fact that distributing fertilizer over a thousand — let alone ten thousand or more — acres of farmland is an immense mechanical and logistical challenge, involving many people, heavy machinery, and valuable time.

Not to mention the risk that a heavy rain might carry off a lot of the fertilizer before it’s absorbed and used, and the huge contributions of greenhouse gases the fertilizing process produces. (The microbe approach seems to be considerably better for the environment.)

Yet the reason we do this in the first place is essentially to imitate the work of microbes that live in the soil (Read more...)

Pivot Bio rakes in $430M round D as modified microbes prove their worth in agriculture



Pivot Bio makes fertilizer — but not directly. Its modified microorganisms are added to soil and they product nitrogen that would otherwise have had to be trucked in and dumped there. This biotech-powered approach can save farmers money and time and ultimately may be easier on the environment — a huge opportunity that investors have plowed $430 million into in the company’s latest funding round.

Nitrogen is among the nutrients crops need to survive and thrive, and it’s only by dumping fertilizer on the soil and mixing it in that farmers can keep growing at today’s rates. But in some ways we’re still doing what our forebears did generations ago.

“Fertilizer changed agriculture — it’s what made so much of the last century possible. But it’s not a perfect way to get nutrients to crops,” said Karsten Temme, CEO and co-founder of Pivot Bio. He pointed out the simple fact that distributing fertilizer over a thousand — let alone ten thousand or more — acres of farmland is an immense mechanical and logistical challenge, involving many people, heavy machinery, and valuable time.

Not to mention the risk that a heavy rain might carry off a lot of the fertilizer before it’s absorbed and used, and the huge contributions of greenhouse gases the fertilizing process produces. (The microbe approach seems to be considerably better for the environment.)

Yet the reason we do this in the first place is essentially to imitate the work of microbes that live in the soil (Read more...)

Molecule.one grows its drug synthesis AI platform with a $4.6M seed round



Polish computational chemistry outfit Molecule.one has raised $4.6M to expand its quest to bring theoretical drug molecules to reality. Its machine learning systems predict the best ways to synthesize potentially valuable molecules, a crucial part of creating new drugs and treatments.

Molecule.one went on stage at Disrupt SF 2019’s Startup Battlefield, where they explained the difficulty faced by the drug discovery industry, basically that they come up with lots of theoretical treatments but can’t actually make the molecules.

The company’s system enters play when you have some exotic new compound you want to make in order to test it in real life, but don’t know how to make it. After all, these molecules are brand new to science — no one has created them before, so why should anyone know? Molecule.one creates a workflow starting with ordinary off-the-shelf chemicals and provides step by step instructions using known methods of how to go from A to B… and to C, D, and so on (it’s rarely simple).

The company leverages machine learning and a large body of knowledge about chemical reactions to create these processes, though as CSO Stanisław Jastrzębski explained, they do it backwards.

“Synthesis planning can be characterized as a game,” he said. “In each move of this game, instead of moving a piece on a board, we break a chemical bond between a pair of atoms. The goal of the game is to break down a target molecule to molecules that can then be bought on the (Read more...)

Engine Biosciences expands its digital drug discovery pipeline with $43M round



Drug discovery is a large and growing field, encompassing both ambitious startups and billion-dollar Big Pharma incumbents. Engine Biosciences is one of the former, a Singaporean outfit with an expert founding crew and a different approach to the business of finding new therapeutics, and it just raised $43 million to keep growing.

Digital drug discovery in general means large-scale analysis of biological data like genes, gene expression, protein structures, binding sites, things like that. Where it has hit a wall in the past is not on the digital side, where any number of likely molecules or processes can be generated, but on the next step, when those notions need to be tested in vitro. So a new crop of biotech companies have worked to integrate these aspects.

Engine does so with a pair of tools it has dubbed NetMAPPR and CombiGEM. NetMAPPR is a huge sort of search engine for genes and gene interactions, taking special note of “errors” that could provide a foothold for a molecule or treatment. CombiGEM is like a mass genetic testing process that can look into thousands of gene combinations and edits on diseased cells simultaneously, providing quick experimental confirmation of the targets and effects proposed by the digital side. The company is focused on anti-cancer drugs but is looking into other fields as they become viable.

Jeffrey Lu, Co-Founder and CEO, Engine Biosciences

Image Credits: Engine Biosciences

The focus on gene interactions sets their approach apart, said co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Lu.

“Gene interactions are relevant to all diseases, and in (Read more...)