Genetic Circuits Startup Asimov Raises Seed Round Led by Andreessen Horowitz

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Funds will accelerate development of genetic circuits platform and biotechnology partnerships

Press Release updated: Dec 19, 2017 08:30 EST

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., December 19, 2017 – Asimov, a startup using computer-aided design to engineer biology, announced today that it has raised $4.7 million in seed funding in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation by Data Collective, Pillar, and AME Cloud Ventures.

“In nature, biology has evolved sophisticated genetic circuits to do incredible things like self-organize into multicellular patterns, construct atomically-precise materials, and protect against sickness. However, genetic circuits aren’t harnessed in biotechnology today because engineering them is a technical challenge. Solving that problem would unlock advanced biotechnologies that seem like science fiction: intelligent therapeutics that sense and respond to disease, molecular assembly lines for biomanufacturing, and living materials that heal and adapt to their environment,” said Alec Nielsen, Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Asimov’s products are custom-built genetic circuits: DNA sequences that encode new cellular functions. Our circuits enable customers to create next-generation biotechnologies in health, manufacturing, and consumer goods. This seed funding allows us to quickly scale and partner with customers in diverse areas.”

Asimov’s software and genetics platform was originally developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University. Funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research was published in Science, Nature Methods, and Nature Chemical Biology. The company’s industry-grade version of the platform combines state-of-the-art synthetic biology, biophysical simulations, and machine learning-based design.

The remarkable ability of biology to create patterns, perform specialized tasks, and adapt to changing environments is made possible with genetic circuits. The same way that electronic circuits are found everywhere – in cars, mobile phones, and smart refrigerators – engineered genetic circuits will also become ubiquitous in our lives. Asimov is developing industry-grade genetic circuits to enable applications such as living materials, intelligent cell therapeutics, and advanced molecular manufacturing.

Alec Nielsen, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Asimov

“Asimov’s approach to engineering biology has transformative potential across many areas that touch and improve people’s lives. We are thrilled to partner with the Asimov team,” said Vijay Pande, Ph.D., general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “Just as semiconductor companies today depend on electronic design automation to build their chips, computer-aided design is playing an increasingly important role in bioengineering. We’ve reached an inflection point in terms of what can be reliably built. This has profound implications.”

ABOUT ASIMOV. Asimov empowers the creation of previously impossible biotechnologies. The company’s design platform enables them to precisely engineer genetic circuits for customers in diverse sectors. The company was founded by four biological engineering pioneers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Christopher Voigt, Boston University Professor Douglas Densmore, and MIT Biological Engineering Ph.D.s Alec Nielsen and Raja Srinivas. For more information visit

Karl Schmieder
[email protected]

Source: Asimov

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Brad Bennett

Brad Bennett

Brad grew up in a small town in northern Iowa. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children.
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