How the R42 Group Helps Innovators Go From Idea to Impact

What if researchers could reverse the aging process in cells, have easier access to cells needed for biological research or use the power of machine learning to better understand biological data?

Companies working on those innovations are just some of the recent recipients of investments made by the R42 Group, an organization that invests in artificial intelligence, deep science, biotechnology and more.

When I joined the R42 Group in 2019, I was particularly excited by its work in biotechnology. To date, we have invested in companies like Senisca, which is developing a revolutionary technology to reverse the process that causes cells to stop dividing with age. Those so-called senescent cells are a major cause of the types of diseases and aesthetic changes associated with old age, and Senisca’s RNA-splicing-based therapies could have big impacts in reversing those changes.

“We anticipate that understanding the molecular basis of rejuvenation will highlight new treatments for the diseases and aesthetic aspects of aging,” Senisca says. “More importantly, it is likely that preventative approaches based on rejuvenation will be developed reducing both disease incidence and severity.”

We have also backed ExpressCells, which has a way of creating cells needed for research two to three months faster than traditional producers.

“Before you can do research in people or animals, you do it in cells, and for many years, scientists needed to tailor the experiment to the cell line,” CEO Matthew Handel told CEOCFO Magazine. “Now, we can tailor the cell line to the experiment. We do that by inserting genes that code for certain proteins that allow a researcher to highlight certain parts of the cell.”

Another example of our recent work is Superbio, a company that “makes machine learning easy to use and understand for scientists.” Its web-based, graphical system allows biopharmaceutical researchers to analyze data without the need for specialized engineers.

Superbio was a product of the AI fellowship program hosted by the R42 Institute, another of our group’s strengths. The institute both hones the skills of deep technology and science disruptors through thought leader speaker series, and provides a launchpad for emerging companies through fellows and founders programs.

The R42 Group would not exist without our managing director and founder, Dr. Ronjon Nag. Ronjon, a friend and mentor, brings his expertise to every pitch and company board meeting.

He has founded and been an advisor or board member on multiple startups, including ones that have been sold to Apple, BlackBerry and Motorola. His innovations have ranged from the first laptop with built-in speech recognition to the first private-label, downloadable, operator-billable app store and the first throwable 360-degree ball camera.

Together, we have sought to make the R42 Group — which has presences in the Bay Area, Boston and London — an organization that uses its large network of advisors and experienced entrepreneurs to help other entrepreneurs turn their own ideas and visions into successful companies.

We especially revel in finding companies we truly believe in and being their first investor, helping them go all the way from an idea to a viable product. One of our most notable companies is the New York Stock Exchange-listed SQZ Biotechnologies, which is developing cell therapies for patients with cancer, autoimmune or infectious disease, or other serious conditions.

We are always looking for the next innovator to create similarly transformative technologies, and if that describes you (whether or not you’re a Douglas Adams fan), I’d encourage you to reach out.

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