The Autism Impact Fund Makes First Investments in Seven Early-stage Companies
NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Autism Impact Fund (AIF), whose mission is to revolutionize the status quo for diagnosing, treating and living with autism through a venture capital model, has made its first investments in seven growth and early-stage companies:
- Axial, which is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing a pipeline of gut-restricted small molecule agents intended for the treatment of autism, other CNS disorders, and cancer;
- BioROSA, which is developing an objective blood test for diagnosing autism;
- Floreo, which provides a range of behavioral therapies through a telehealth-enabled virtual reality platform;
- Joshin, which is a digital platform that connects employers and families with special needs to qualified caregivers through an experience tailored to their goals;
- SpectrumAi, which is modernizing and democratizing access to high-quality autism treatment
- Suggestic, which is an AI-driven platform for developers that integrates personal health data, provider recommendations, and tailored nutrition support to deliver actionable health journeys for end-users
- Yamo Pharmaceuticals, which is a drug discovery company developing a therapeutic for core autism symptoms
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a massive societal issue, impacting 1 in 54 children and millions of families around the world. While major advances have been made to support individuals with ASD, the demand for early diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and services far outpaces the capacity to meet those needs across the autism life journey. AIF was founded by a group of individuals who are deeply committed to fundamentally transforming these dynamics to support people and families living with ASD.
“We created the Autism Impact Fund with the ambition of becoming the investment and innovation arm of the autism community,” said Christopher Male, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of AIF. “We have strong conviction that a for-profit venture capital model is the best way to sustainably accelerate the development and delivery of a wide range of emerging technologies, translational science and innovative services to empower individuals to live happily and thrive,” added Mr. Male, who is also the father of a young son on the autism spectrum.
The fund makes direct investments across diverse sectors and stages of financing, and is guided by four key values:
- Invest in companies that will produce significant advancements in quality of life for the ASD community;
- Provide access to best-in-class services, diagnostics, and therapeutics;
- Apply rigorous investing criteria to deliver returns not only to investors but to all stakeholders, including ASD individuals and their families;
- Rewrite the impact investing equation, overlaying financial discipline and proven business strategies with scientific acumen to improve the status quo for individuals with autism.
AIF’s creation is the culmination of a multi-year planning process spearheaded by leaders in the scientific and investment community with a desire to change the framework for innovation that has historically relied on non-profit research investment to support change. Led by Chris Male and Rob Sarrazin as Co-Managing Partners, AIF is unique in its foundation, focused on investment areas that can provide strong returns while supporting a significantly underserved healthcare area. AIF also believes this model can be further scaled and applied more broadly to address mental health and other complex chronic conditions.
AIF has established a world-class Investment Advisory Board including:
- Johan Andresen, Chairman of the Board and Owner, Ferd;
- Cuong Do, President, Samsung Corporate Strategy Group
- Jennifer Frist, Frist Center for Autism & Innovation at Vanderbilt University;
- Raymond Gellein, Jr., The Mind & Life Institute and Strategic Hotels and Resorts;
- Arun Gupta, Quartet Health;
- Sarah Hassan, Dynagrow Capital and IM HealthScience;
- Elizabeth Horn, 2M Foundation;
- Brian Jacobs, Moai Capital and Emergence Capital;
- Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO, Uber;
- Bob Nelsen, ARCH Ventures;
- Sean O’Sullivan, SOSV, IndieBio and HAX;
- Mike Smart, Dominus Capital.
Details about AIF’s initial portfolio companies:
- Axial Therapeutics ( https://axialtx.com ), which is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company harnessing its expertise in the microbiome and gut-brain axis to develop a pipeline of gut-restricted small molecule agents intended to treat certain CNS disorders (including autism) and cancer, based on research from Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian’s lab at Caltech and led by CEO Stewart Campbell;
- BioROSA Technologies ( www.biorosa.com ), which seeks to develop accurate biomarkers for earlier diagnosis of autism in children, led by Co-Founders John Slattery and Marie Causey;
- Floreo VR ( www.floreotech.com ), which is leveraging the power of virtual reality to build social, behavioral, communication and life skills for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and related behavioral diagnoses, led by Founder and CEO Vijay Ravindran, who led the launch of Amazon Prime and also served as Chief Digital Officer of the Washington Post;
- Joshin ( www.joshin.com ), a digital platform that makes it easy for employers and families with special needs to find and manage care tailored to their unique needs; led by Co-Founders Melissa Danielsen and Melanie Fountaine;
- SpectrumAi ( www.spectrumai.com ), which is led by Founder and CEO Ling Shao who has more than 20 years of experience as a healthcare executive and is mom to four boys, all of whom have been diagnosed with ASD;
- Suggestic ( www.suggestic.com ), offers a modular technology platform with an initial focus on nutrition that integrates extensive datasets, a precision medicine approach, and an AI framework to deliver actionable nutrition guidance to end users. Through a B2B2C approach, Suggestic provides the digital infrastructure for a diverse client base that includes food distributors, supplement companies, lab test providers, and healthcare practitioners to support their own users in optimizing personalized nutrition. Given the capability of the platform to function as a highly adaptive recommendation engine, it is extensible to a wide range of health datasets. The Company is led by Co-Founders Victor Chapela and Shai Rozen, who founded the Company out of a shared vision to empower over a billion people to lead healthier, happier and longer lives;
- Yamo Pharmaceuticals ( www.yamopharma.com ), a drug discovery company developing a compound for the treatment of core autism symptoms. Yamo’s drug candidate, L1-79, seeks to treat irritability in autism and improve socialization and communication, without the severe side effects of the drugs that are currently prescribed for autism. Yamo was founded by Steve Hoffman, the inventor of L1-79, and Andy Intrater, Yamo’s seed investor, who together had the vision of L1-79 meaningfully improving the quality of life of those with autism and their families.
About The Autism Impact Fund
The Autism Impact Fund (AIF) seeks to become the investment and innovation arm of the autism community. AIF’s mission is to revolutionize the status quo for diagnosing, treating and living with autism. Through a venture capital model, AIF accelerates the development and delivery of emerging technologies, translational science and innovative services to empower individuals to reach their full potential. For more information, visit www.autismimpact.fund.
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SOURCE Autism Impact Fund