MouSensor, Inc., a biotechnology company that develops a novel and potentially transformative platform to digitize the sense of smell, announced today that it has raised $3.3M in its seed round. The seed round was co-led by imec.xpand and Alexandria Venture Investments with participation from New York Ventures and Elma Hawkins, Ph.D.
MouSensor's core technology was developed at the Feinstein Lab for Neurogenetics at Hunter College of The City University of New York by the Company's co-founders, Paul Feinstein, Ph.D., Associate Professor and world expert in the molecular biology of olfaction, and Charlotte D'Hulst, Ph.D., platform pioneer and CEO of MouSensor, Inc.
"It is our mission to unlock a brand-new field called Odoromics and to establish the first-ever digital database of scent," said Dr. D'Hulst. "Capturing the odor space will disrupt a myriad of industries, from consumer goods to healthcare, and create entirely new markets going forward."
"MouSensor has engineered the tools to solve a 30-year old problem in the field of olfaction, the decoding of the most enigmatic of all senses —the sense of smell, "said Prof. Paul Feinstein, Chief Science Officer of MouSensor, Inc. "By harnessing what evolution gave us, we can translate the biology of the nose on to a chip to ultimately identify a signature for every type of smell on the planet."
The MouSensor technology has opportunities in the Fragrance & Flavor Industry by providing an objective means to measure odors, and take the trial-and-error out of the $1.5B pipeline of new aroma chemical design and development. In addition, the nose-on-chip technology provides an opportunity to codify odors associated with certain diseases. Here, the Company has been partnering with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research triggered by recent reports of people with "super-smelling powers" who are able to detect a specific scent on Parkinson's patients, even before cardinal movement symptoms appear.
MouSensor has previously been funded by a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation. These non-dilutive funding sources, together with a worldwide and exclusive license to the MouSensor technology, secured from The City University of New York, provided the invaluable stamp of approval necessary to attract early-stage investment that resulted in the closing of this seed round.
To drive continued development of its technology, MouSensor has developed a collaboration with the internationally recognized nano-electronics innovator, imec (Leuven, Belgium) to integrate the MouSensor Biology with state-of-the-art silicon chip technology. This R&D partnership was recently awarded with a $1.2M grant from Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO). The Company has set up a subsidiary in Belgium to facilitate the imec collaboration and fuel its own chip R&D.
"Proud of our brand, we at imec are selective in the R&D relationships we establish," said Luc Van denhove, CEO of imec. "We are fascinated by MouSensor's approach which aligns with our vision to bring the power of chip technology to the domain of life sciences and to push the boundaries of the impossible."
Imec.xpand, an independently managed fund that invests globally in companies that leverage imec technology, has truly instigated MouSensor's fundraising efforts with early-stage funding followed by co-leading the seed round with Alexandria Venture Investments.
"At imec.xpand, we are looking to invest in companies with an exceptional team and a unique technology that will have a global impact," said Tom Vanhoutte, Partner at imec.xpand. "We are impressed by the depth of knowledge, the commitment and the enthusiasm of Charlotte, Paul and the team and we are looking forward to join them on their exciting journey."
MouSensor is a member company of Alexandria LaunchLabs®, a full-service startup platform, through which the Company was able to access the Alexandria Seed Capital Platform, an innovative funding model led by Alexandria Venture Investments.
"Alexandria LaunchLabs fosters the city's next generation of best-in-class life science companies and we are thrilled to have MouSensor and its technology, developed right here in Manhattan, join our vibrant ecosystem at the Alexandria Center® for Life Science – NYC," said Blake Stevens, Ph.D., head of Alexandria LaunchLabs – NYC.
MouSensor is supported by an outstanding Scientific Advisory Board composed of world leading experts in the molecular biology of the sense of smell, which include Dr. Charles Greer, Professor of Neuroscience and Neurosurgery at Yale University, Dr. Randall Reed, Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Johns Hopkins University, and Dr. Jeffrey Martens, Thomas H. Maren Professor and Chair at the University of Florida. Prof. Em. Eugene Johnson, former Chief Scientific Advisor at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, will advise the Company on the application of the MouSensor technology in the Parkinson's field. Steve Hicks, Former R&D Director at Procter & Gamble, has been appointed as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
About MouSensor, The Odoromics Company
MouSensor, Inc. is an early-stage biotech start-up headquartered in New York City and founded in 2016 as a spinout from The City University of New York (CUNY), based on technology developed at the Feinstein Lab for Neurogenetics at Hunter College. The Company is engineering a living nose-on-a-chip with the bold vision to detect, discover and digitize every single smell on this planet; from the fragrances in a perfumer's palette to the unique odors associated with diseases, such as Parkinson's. It is their mission to establish the first-ever digital database of scent. For more information, please visit www.mousensor.com.
Imec.xpand is an early stage and growth fund with a game-changing approach to turn hardware driven nanotechnology innovation into successful global companies. The fund is independently managed by a team of entrepreneurs, seasoned venture capitalists and business experts and is targeting ambitious tech start-ups were imec knowledge, expertise and infrastructure can play a determining role in the success. For more information about imec.xpand, please visit www.imecxpand.com.
About Alexandria Ventures Investments
Alexandria Venture Investments, founded in 1996, is the strategic venture capital arm of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. Alexandria Venture Investments focuses on novel, breakthrough discoveries in biopharma, diagnostics, research tools, agtech and technology. Based on its experience and in-depth understanding of the life science and technology industries, its long-term relationships with leading investors and its world-class scientific advisory network, Alexandria Venture Investments is uniquely positioned to fund seed-, early- and growth-stage companies. For more information, please visit www.are.com.
About New York Ventures
New York Ventures is the venture capital investment arm of Empire State Development, New York State's chief economic development agency. New York Ventures meets the critical capital needs of the state's innovation economy by providing funding to high-growth startups as they move from concept to commercialization, through early growth and expansion. More information is available here.
About Alexandria LaunchLabs®
Alexandria LaunchLabs is the premier, full-service startup platform designed to dramatically accelerate the growth of early-stage life science startups. With its flagship site at the Alexandria Center® for Life Science – New York City and its Cambridge site at the Alexandria Center® at One Kendall Square, Alexandria LaunchLabs provides move-in ready office/laboratory space, first-class support resources, shared equipment and services, creative amenities and access to startup capital through the Alexandria Seed Capital Platform —all of which are critical for driving the growth of seed- and early-stage companies across the country. The Alexandria LaunchLabs team is currently accepting applications for future members in New York City and Cambridge. For more information or to apply, please visit www.alexandrialaunchlabs.com.
Imec is the world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, energy and education. As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together more than 4,000 brilliant minds from over 85 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. In 2017, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 546 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at www.imec-int.com.
About the National Science Foundation's Small Business Programs
The National Science Foundation (NSF) awards nearly $190 million annually to startups and small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. The non-dilutive grants support research and development (R&D) across almost all areas of science and technology helping companies de-risk technology for commercial success. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $7 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
As the world's largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson's patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $800 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson's research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson's disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson's awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world. For more information, visit www.michaeljfox.org.
About Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO)
The agency Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship is the contact point for entrepreneurs in Flanders. We encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship, and contribute to a favorable business climate. We do this in close collaboration with local actors and supported by our international commitments in EUREKA, E.E.N. and H2020. We focus on: Stimulating growth and innovation; Promoting entrepreneurship; Supporting clusters; Improving environmental factors. By being a one-stop-shop, we build a bridge towards stronger entrepreneurship. For more information, please send an email to email@example.com.
About The City University of New York (CUNY)
The City University of New York is the nation's leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, and additional professional schools. The University serves nearly 275,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adults, continuing and professional education students.