Success! You're on the list.

Success! You're on the list.

OpenAI for chemistry: Y Combinator-backed Yoneda Labs raises $4M funding

Yenoda Labs
Picture credits: Yenoda Labs

San Francisco-based Yoneda Labs, a Y Combinator-backed AI drug discovery startup, has raised $4 million in seed funding. The round was led by Khosla Ventures (backed Varda Space and Collaborative Robotics). It also saw participation from 500 Emerging Europe, 468 Capital and Y Combinator. 

This follows the recent investment rounds in the AI-powered drug discovery sector such as Xaira Therapeutics and SeaBeLife.

With this funding, they plan to build out a robotics lab capable of running experiments on the remaining 20,000 reactions to continue training an AI model for chemists. Later this year, they plan to be able to run and analyse 200 experiments a day, the equivalent output of roughly 20 full-time chemists.

Idea behind Yoneda Labs

Yoneda Labs was founded by a group from the University of Cambridge with backgrounds in chemistry, robotics, and machine learning – Michal Mgeladze-Arciuch, Jan Oboril, and Daniel Vlasits. The idea for Yoneda Labs was born when one of the founders, Jan Oboril, was working on drug development at a major pharmaceutical company. He felt he wasted hundreds of hours running trials in the lab that could be replaced with machine learning algorithms that could run the same experiments in silico.

After joining forces with co-founders Michal Mgeladze-Arciuch, who worked on machine learning algorithms at Jane Street and researched large AI models at UC Berkeley, and Daniel Vlasits, who won an international robotics competition, the team built an initial prototype that improved Jan’s process in the lab and was accepted to Y Combinator.

During their time at YC, the team identified 20,000 chemical reactions to generate proprietary data for their foundation model. In a small-scale trial, the models suggested good conditions in 95% of cases, a stark improvement to the industry standard in which the majority of the experiments fail.

AI chemical manufacturing model

It is touted to be building the world’s first foundation AI model for chemical manufacturing for chemists working in drug discovery. The startup is pioneering a foundation AI model to enhance chemical synthesis, aiming to reduce reliance on traditional trial-and-error methods. 

“When a chemist wants to couple two molecules together, they are left to old-school literature search and trial-and-error methods in a lab,” said Michal Mgeladze-Arciuch, founder and CEO of Yoneda Labs. “At Yoneda, our vision is to build a foundation AI model that analyses and predicts what will happen before a chemist has to run their experiment. This would increase their productivity by an order of magnitude and potentially enable the creation of new drugs that isn’t currently possible to do cost-effectively at scale.”

“Machine learning and generative AI models have already begun to accelerate physics-oriented fields like aerospace engineering,” said Jon Chu, partner at Khosla Ventures. “Chemistry will be no different and the team at Yoneda Labs has a novel approach to creating a foundation model for chemistry that could change the way chemicals are manufactured and improve the drug discovery process.”

Related Posts

Get daily funding news briefings in the tech world delivered right to your inbox.

Enter Your Email
join our newsletter. thank you