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21 September 2017

The Engine accelerates to $200m

The Engine has already made seven investments in a bid to commercialise technologies that require a longer-term view than most.

Author: Callum Cyrus, reporter

The Engine, a US-based program initiated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) aimed at complex technologies, has raised $200m for its first fund.

MIT itself provided $25m of the funding, as reported by GUV in April 2017, with the remainder sourced from venture capital funds and family-operated institutions. The Engine had achieved a first close of $150m in April 2017.

The initiative is aimed at early-stage companies with “tough tech” business models that require significant resources to commercialise. Sectors targeted by the Engine include robotics, manufacturing and materials, health, biotech and energy.

The Engine’s investments are not restricted to MIT spinouts, however chosen companies must relocate to MIT’s home turf in Boston, Massachusetts. Investees will also receive input from MIT alumni and the wider faculty community.

Katie Rae, president and CEO of the Engine, said: “As we look at the first seven companies we have invested in, it is wonderful to see the breadth of tough-tech areas founders have leaned into.”

“We have been so gratified by the quality and passion of the founders that have come to us. These entrepreneurs are on a mission, and with our help they are going to change the world for the better.”

MIT named the first seven investments for the Engine as:

  • Analytical Space, which hopes to install no-delay data gathering systems in space to expand the perspective on issues such as precision agriculture, climate monitoring and city planning.
  • Baseload Renewables, a startup focused on low-cost energy storage to help renewable power replace fossil fuel generation, which is at present the only option for always-on baseload capacity because of the intermittent nature of many renewable sources.
  • Via Separations, which hopes to slash the amount of energy used during the industrial separation process by 10 times with new approaches and materials.
  • C2Sense, which will build a digital olfactory sensor to pick real-time data from smells to use in domains such as food, agriculture, and health and safety.
  • iSee, a developer of next-generation “humanistic” artificial intelligence (AI) capable of understanding how what human beings are thinking based on a combination of AI, computational cognitive science, robotics and computer vision.
  • Kytopen, a life science and advanced manufacturing spinout which hopes to commercialise a continuous process for injecting therapeutic DNA into cancerous cells, to supplant the current technique of manually inserting one DNA sample at a time.
  • Suono Bio, which is developing an ultra-sound therapeutic platform that could propel RNA proteins and nucleic acids to confront diseases 22 times faster than existing methods.

Supporting articles: MIT starts the Engine

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