A pair of San Francisco-based startups that use similar atomic- and molecular-level technologies for different purposes have received significant cash injections following recent funding rounds.
On February 4, cloud-based software company Mat3ra raised $3 million in seed funding for an artificial intelligence (AI)-based platform that helps companies model new materials at the atomic level. The round was led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Draper Associates.
Molecular spirits maker Endless West raised $60 million in a Series C funding round five days later. The round was led by Level One Fund and included funds managed by UBS O’Connor, Horizons, SOSV, Casa Verde, and Rage Capital.
Both funding rounds reflected an increased interest in the commercialization of technologies that break products down to their most basic levels and contribute to more sustainable operations.
In the case of Endless West, the company’s molecular process identifies key flavor and aroma molecules in an alcoholic beverage. It then extracts those characteristics from more readily available sources such as plants, fruits, and yeasts. The idea is to create a spirit with similar qualities to competing brands but in a way that costs less and uses fewer resources.
Endless West, founded in 2015 by scientists Alec Lee and Mardonn Chua, offers three varieties of its molecular Glyph whiskey and a sake-inspired spirit, and molecular wine. With molecular-level technology, spirits makers can avoid time-consuming and expensive aging and barreling processes, using 94% less water and 92% less agricultural land than traditional methods.
The alcoholic beverage industry has taken notice. Endless West’s products have won 39 medals in wine and spirits competitions, including a Gold Medal in the 2021 London Spirits Competition for Glyph Spice, a successor to Glyph Original, which launched in 2018.
Endless West’s latest funding round brings its total equity financing to $95 million. Most of the money will be used to launch the company’s newest B2B platform, Blank Collective, which offers creative, product development, and production services to clients. With Blank Collective, Endless West’s molecular process will be made available to external parties for the first time.
“Since we founded the company, we’ve been pushing the boundaries of what people thought was possible in the wine and spirits industry,” Lee, the company’s CEO, said in a press release. “I’m thrilled to announce this next round of funding that will help us take our incredible technology to the world and make it available for others looking to create their own great products.”
Operating in a similar technology space but a very different market is Mat3ra, whose cloud-based platform is designed to model new compounds, beginning with interactions between individual atoms.
Mat3ra, formerly known as Exabyte.iom, was founded in 2015 by Timur Bazhirov, who holds a Ph.D. in physics from UC-Berkeley, and whose professional experience includes working in first-principles studies of materials. Mat3ra refers to itself as the “only end-to-end materials modeling platform.”
Its platform is designed to consolidate state-of-the-art simulation tools and data, allowing users to design new compounds and run physics-based and machine-learning models. The goal is to increase the impact of high-end simulations, accelerate research and development, and enable product design “from atoms up.”
Mat3ra’s technology uses AI-based simulations to accelerate R&D efforts that traditionally require trial-and-error experimentation. This could be especially beneficial to sectors such as semiconductors, energy storage, space exploration, and manufacturing.
“We want people that develop new materials to have the freedom to iterate and test their ideas in the computer as fast as possible,” Bazhirov told Bloomberg in a recent interview.
Mat3ra’s latest funding round brings its total financing to $3.85 million. The company got an initial $850,000 investment from early backers such as Alchemist Accelerator and Breakout Labs.