Exploring the Deep Tech Fund Portfolio
June 4, 2021 | Scott Murphy
“For a startup to earn the deep tech label, there must be science or engineering risk in getting the idea to actually work and, assuming it does, risk in proving market demand for that product. If there is only one of these risks, but not both, then we’re not talking about a deep tech startup.”
-Nathan Benaich, Founder & General Partner, Air Street Capital
Deep Tech Fund 2 will build a diversified portfolio of ~20-30 deep tech companies tackling the toughest and potentially most lucrative tech challenges. Recent events have underscored the critical importance of science and rational thought for the well-being of society and the planet. Today, we’ll bring the Deep Tech Fund portfolio to life by highlighting three investments in the Fund 1 portfolio. They range from innovations in low Earth orbit commercialization to a platform for virtual clinic trials to pioneering tech in processing chip cooling. See three spotlighted companies below, and click here to see the complete Fund 1 portfolio.
World’s First Commercial Space Station
Axiom Space has been sole-selected by the US Congress and NASA to build a commercial replacement for the International Space Station (ISS). With the ISS near the end of its useful life, Axiom has been contracted to build and operate the world’s first for-profit space station. As Axiom completes the new space station, the existing ISS will be scuttled, giving Axiom the leading physical asset from which to commercialize low Earth orbit.
What We Liked
- Large market opportunity. Serving five national space programs, plus additional countries, companies, and individuals.
- Significant traction. Customers include aerospace leaders including NASA, Boeing, Airbus, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Virgin Galactic.
- Stellar team. The leadership has invaluable domain expertise in business operations, human spaceflight, and space engineering.
- High conviction from investors. The two leads, who are well-connected and experienced, stepped up with ~50% of the round.
Virtual Twins for Clinical Trials
Unlearn.AI creates machine learning platforms to create biological digital twins for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. These digital twins combine physical, physiological, and genetic information with machine learning models to create a virtual representation of an individual. The twins are used in clinical trials to augment and — perhaps, in the future, replace — control groups.
What We Liked
- Market opportunity. Given that 20% of clinical trials fail because they can’t recruit enough patients, Unlearn has a clear value proposition.
- Validated technology. Unlearn’s platform has been validated with an Alzheimer’s case study.
- Competitive advantage. Unlearn has established a unique space for itself by using digital twins in non-oncological clinical trials.
- Expanding use cases. Unlearn’s platform can be used beyond clinical trials for predictive, preventative, and personalized medicine.
Frore Systems: Groundbreaking Tech to Radically Improve Device Performance
Frore Systems can help all consumer electronics run faster and more efficiently. The central processors that drive our phones, computers, and servers run up against capacity constraints. When too hot, thermal management systems kick in, throttling back chip processing speeds. Frore’s new technology provides fast, pulsating air flow on the surface of the chips to cool hot processors. Frore seeks to provide twice the heat dissipation with half the thickness, volume, and weight of current solutions to improve processor performance by 2x.
What We Liked
- Enormous market. The market for Frore’s systems is gigantic — potentially on top of every central processor in every mobile phone, tablet, laptop, server, and datacenter rack.
- Deep technology moat. Frore has considerable proprietary intellectual property and is pursuing a unique solution using fast air flow tech.
- Highly accomplished team. The entire team is very accomplished in the major disciplines required to bring this solution to market.
- Consistent backing from strong investors. The lead investor in Frore’s original Series A (and taking super pro rata) is Navin Chaddha. Navin is the lead partner at Mayfield Fund and a 12-time member of the Forbes Annual Midas List of Top 100 Tech Investors. Qualcomm Ventures (where the two founders worked) is also a significant investor.
To learn more about target sectors for the Deep Tech Fund, click below to explore all our background materials or book a call with our team.