Prime Movers Lab has raised $245 million to back young startups working on an unconventional range of technologies. The firm specializes in making investments at the edge of what’s technically possible — including brain implants, psychedelics-related therapies and space infrastructure.
The cash influx will constitute Wyoming-based Prime Movers Lab’s fourth fund, the firm plans to announce Wednesday, bringing its total under management to more than $1.2 billion. The funding comes at a bleak time for the startup ecosystem, and was the result of a drawn-out process, said founder and general partner Dakin Sloss.
“This was hard,” Sloss said. “It took a lot of time and a lot of conversations.”
After a pandemic-era boom, investors have pulled back from the VC world. US venture firms this year are on pace for their lowest funding haul since 2017, according to data from PitchBook.
Despite the tough environment, though, Sloss said he’s seeing more promising companies now than at any time since he founded the firm in 2018. Prime Movers Lab today reviews about 5,000 startups a year, mostly in so-called deep tech, referring to ventures that tackle scientific challenges usually not yet ready for commercialization. That number is roughly triple the amount when the firm started out, he said.
New investments from the fund include brain computer interface developer Paradromics Inc., mental health therapeutics company Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals, robotics company Robust AI and space infrastructure provider Quantum Space LLC.
Technological advancements in areas like space exploration and green energy, along with changes to the labor market, have helped drive a boom in science-heavy startups, Sloss said.
“There are a lot of people who have already built something cool, but are at the point now in their lives where they want to be more impactful,” he said. Government incentives for such projects are also helpful, but not the main driver of innovation. “They’re more like icing,” Sloss said.
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