Quris, an Israeli artificial intelligence (AI) startup focused on the pharmaceutical arena, announced on Tuesday that it has secured an additional $9 million in Seed funding – bringing its total Seed round funding to $37 million. Led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, alongside existing private and institutional investors such as GlenRock Capital, iAngels, Welltech Ventures and Richter Group, the additional capital will help Quris advance its Bio-AI platform, grow its team, and speed its novel drug research.
This is SoftBank’s first investment in an Israeli company in many months. Many of the companies in which the Japanese conglomerate previously invested in have been busy over recent months in implementing cutbacks and layoffs. Most of SoftBank’s previous investments in Israel were in growth companies and Quris will be the first early-stage company it will be funding in Israel.
“We believe the early forecasting capability that Quris is developing brings real potential impact to the global pharmaceutical industry,” said Yossi Cohen, Director of Israel Operations for SoftBank Investment Advisers, and the former Director of Mossad. ”Harnessing the novel application of AI, Dr. Bentwich and his team could save the enormous costs of drugs failing in clinical trials, and in doing so create a business in Israel of significant economic value.”
Quris’ Bio-AI clinical-prediction platform simulates clinical trials by leveraging a patented patient-on-chip system through the use of stem-cell derived tissue and AI to simulate a real human body’s reaction to drugs without relying on time-intense, inaccurate animal-testing.
Quris signed a cooperation agreement with the German pharma giant Merck earlier this year. The agreement between the two companies is exclusive to only one disease for a period of five years. Merck will be able to use the Quris platform to test its drugs, and identify those that are safe to use. As part of the agreement, which could yield the Israeli company an estimated tens of millions of dollars in accordance with milestones, Merck will gain access to Quris’ forecasting platform, along with continuing clinical trials in the traditional approach and comparing the performance of the two tracks.
Quris was founded by serial entrepreneurs CEO Isaac Bentwich and CTO Yossi Haran. The company currently employs around 40 people.