Irish biotechnology startup Nuritas, which uses artificial intelligence to search for genetic and biochemical treatments for diseases, announced Wednesday the addition of U2 rockers Bono and The Edge to their roster of investors.
“When we first started talking with Nuritas, I was blown away with how their ideas could be used to significantly improve the health of billions of people globally. Using cutting-edge technology and really smart approaches to identify disease-beating peptides in food is something that has never been done before,” The Edge, whose non-stage name is David Howell Evans, said in a press release.
The company was founded by Irish computational biologist and mathematician Dr. Nora Khaldi. Nuritas uses deep learning and DNA analysis to discover new health benefits derived from certain proteins (or to be specific, from peptides). The goal is to utilize their discoveries to both pave a new path to new drugs and develop additive ingredients for manufactured food products.
Their most recent breakout work is around the discovery of a peptide related to Type 2 Diabetes that might prevent the disease from developing. In addition to building a new pipeline to develop new drugs, they hope to develop ingredients that can be added to food. Trials are scheduled to begin by early 2018 with a hope to start placing their nutritional supplements into products and onto shelves by 2020.
Khaldi has represented Irish innovation at the 2015 EU SME Summit and received the Innovation Award at Forbes’s 2015 Reinventing America Summit. Her company also received a special recognition from the EU Commission earlier this year.
“We aim high and think outside the box at Nuritas which is something that Bono and the Edge have done throughout their careers,” Khaldi said in a press release. “We are delighted to have them join the Nuritas family and embrace our mission of improving the health of billions of people around the world.”
Altogether, the company has raised over $6.5 million. The investment from Bono and Evans, terms of which were not disclosed, adds onto a recent €3 million grant the company got from the European Union. Bono and Evans also join existing seed investor New Protein Capital out of Singapore, which had put $3.2 million into the company in October 2015. The musicians have their own personal history investing in Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Dropbox, and will be in good company on the startup’s board with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Ali Partovi.
Emmet Browne, CEO of Nuritas, said: “Growing up in Dublin watching U2 gain global impact and recognition, makes today a really special occasion as the Edge and Bono are now helping us on a similar journey,” said Nuritas CEO Emmet Browne, who I will assume is not actually related to the time traveling innovator of the same name (though we can’t rule anything out).
“I’m thrilled to have them on board and they have already provided enormous support and enthusiasm, proactively connecting and opening doors to help our growth and expansion. Just as they started out performing in front of a small few and are now playing before a global audience of billions, we aim to do exactly the same with Nuritas.”
Plans for 2017 include tripling their Irish staff to 60 as well as grow their US operations. With headquarters in Dublin, the company opened a San Francisco office in 2016.
During a recent visit to those headquarters, Evans spoke enthusiastically about the future of the company’s work:
“To see this team unlock what nature has already created for the betterment of mankind, it’s just incredible. We want to bring forward and support innovative, world-changing ideas so this is a perfect fit.”