Natural chemist Manuela Oliverio was engaged on a brand new drug when he seen that check outcomes on mice weren’t constant, as a result of the molecule being administered was at all times totally different relying on the chemist who produced it. It occurred to him that automation and robotics might make the drug improvement course of extra predictable, and so he based Katakem, one of many startups within the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield 200.
With Katakem, Oliverio goals to develop what he calls a “robotic chef” for chemists — a tool that makes chemical reactions extra persistently reproducible whereas accelerating the experimental course of. He claims that the present prototype, dubbed OnePot, can gather information about chemical processes 150 instances each second and automate repetitive, mundane duties like heating, cooling and mixing totally different molecules.
“The manufacturing of a chemical product is strictly regulated and standardized. [But] the event part between discovery and manufacturing remains to be carried out manually and no important information is extracted,” Oliverio instructed TechCrunch in an interview. “Via information, we will help corporations develop new life-saving medicine sooner and, after all, this implies greater revenues and higher margins for them … Information [from OnePot] is dependable, clear and instantly usable.”
To Oliverio’s level, drug improvement at this time is a prolonged and costly endeavor. Solely about 12% of medicine coming into medical trials are in the end approved for introduction by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration. And estimates of the common R&D value per drug vary from lower than $1 billion to over $2 billion, with errors and errors including to the value tag.
Katakem developed OnePot over the course of three years, designing each the mechanical and electrical parts in-house. The corporate is searching for chemists to beta check the system, significantly these in company and educational settings, to gather information that it plans to make use of to coach an algorithm that may suggest “sooner and extra sustainable” methods to develop molecules.
Given the scale of the issue — and addressable market — it’s not stunning that Katakem has competitors. Automata can be making a robotic to deal with fundamental lab duties, and it just lately raised $50 million to take action. There’s Kebotix, a startup creating AI and robotics instruments to expedite the invention of chemical substances, and Artificial, which sells a lab automation platform aimed toward life sciences R&D.
However whereas Katakem has the twin challenges of proving its know-how works and overcoming rivals, Oliverio isn’t involved. Based mostly on present commitments, he expects Katakem’s annual recurring income to hit $350,000 by the tip of the yr and $3 million by the tip of 2023. Presumably, these projections assume Katakem finds success with its early prospects and demonstrates that OnePot does all the corporate says it may do.
“As our shoppers — chemical corporations — are key to economies, we aren’t topic to excessive variability in demand,” Oliverio mentioned. “The robotic is able to be commercialized.”
So far, Calabria, Italy-based Katakem has raised €1.3 million ($1.27 million) in capital from undisclosed seed buyers, according to Crunchbase information.
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