Envisagenics gets $100K in seed funding

Envisagenics founder Maria Luisa Pineda.

By GREGORY ZELLER // Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory spinoff Envisagenics has landed a $100,000 investment from Accelerate Long Island and the Long Island Emerging Technology Fund.

Envisagenics, which uses proprietary algorithms to dramatically reduce the complexity of biological datasets resulting from ribonucleic acid sequencing, will use the funds “to create the most talented team possible for Envisagenics and Long Island,” CEO Maria Luisa Pineda told Innovate LI.

Pineda founded the firm in 2013 with Chief Technology Officer Martin Akerman. Monday’s investment is a $50,000 Accelerate grant and a matching investment by the LIETF, a venture vehicle powered by Setauket investment firm Jove Equity Partners and Roslyn’s Topspin Fund.

Earlier this month, Pineda said her company was in the market for a database developer and a “bioinformatician” – an expert in both computers and biological sciences – to help develop the company’s SpliceCore software package and associated cloud-based analysis tools. The $100,000 will also help fund a corporate attorney and other back-office corporate requirements, the CEO added.

Akerman said the Accelerate/LIETF funds will speed up development of Envisagenics’ software, which analyzes and interprets biological “big data” extracted from the human genome – a massive data-processing endeavor that can reveal changes in RNA structure, shedding new light on the causes of (and possibly cures for) numerous diseases. The goal, according to the company, is to speed up the identification of targtets for new drug therapies.

“The support … will accelerate the delivery of our software to help scientists around the world striving to unlock the cure of incurable diseases like cancer,” Akerman said in a written statement.

Accelerate Executive Director Mark Lesko noted his organization’s relationship with Envisagenics extends back to the company’s launch, and said the joint $100,000 investment will help the startup “grow on Long Island.”

David Calone, CEO of Jove Equity Partners and founder of the LIETF, said the investment fund was delighted to support a CSHL-based company working in the key bioinformatics space.

“The software product Envisagenics has developed will provide critical information to companies and researchers developing life-saving drugs,” Calone said in a press release announcing the investment.

This is not the first time Topspin Fund, either independently or through the Emerging Technologies Fund, has supported a CSHL spinoff, noted Topspin Managing Partner Leo Guthart. But the Envisagenics investment represents “another example of the potential that exists to commercialize the world-class research taking place there every day,” said Guthart, who cited previous investments in CSHL-based companies including Mirimus and Certerra.

“I’m glad to see a company from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a globally recognized institution that has made countless groundbreaking discoveries, join the Accelerate Long Island/LIETF portfolio,” added Steve Winick, managing partner of the Topspin Fund. “We will continue to support Envisagenics in their efforts to provide bioinformatics solutions to bioscience research and develop and scale their platform.”

Envisagenics, in turn, will continue to rely on that support. While grateful for the Accelerate/LIETF boost, Pineda said her company is still seeking a “strategic investor interested in the RNA market” and is anticipating a “significant” Series A funding round.

The LaunchPad Huntington-based firm has other fundraising irons in the fire, the CEO added, though she wouldn’t elaborate just yet.

“We will make another fundraising announcement this summer,” Pineda said.