Round led by the DDF (through DDF-2) and co-led by UTEC (University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners) and founding investor Mass General Brigham Ventures (MGBV), and joined by Ono Venture Investment
Cambridge, MA – May 31st, 2023 – Violet Therapeutics, Inc. (‘Violet’), a therapeutics company utilizing novel proprietary platforms for the identification of cell-cell interaction mechanisms, announces the successful closing of a $10.6 million seed funding round. The round was led by the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), making its first investment from its latest fund – the Dementia Discovery Fund 2 (DDF-2) – and co-led by UTEC (University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners), and was joined by founding investor Mass General Brigham Ventures (MGBV) and Ono Venture Investment.
Violet was founded in 2021 by Mass General Brigham Ventures in collaboration with entrepreneurs and scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital including Dr. Francisco J. Quintana, around novel neuroscience targets and multiple first-in-class target discovery platforms to identify, map and mine the cellular connectome at scale.
One of Violet’s discovery platforms, RABID-Seq, uses barcoded viral tracing to provide insights into cell–cell interactions at single-cell resolution. The scientific basis of this approach was published in Science magazine by Dr. Quintana and co-authors in 2021.
Violet is currently advancing a lead and first-of-its-kind program targeting neuroinflammation, which is being investigated for multiple neurodegenerative indications, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Francisco J. Quintana, PhD, Professor of Neurology at the Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and an Associate Member at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and Violet co-founder, commented: “Our novel platforms for the study of cell-cell interactions provide unique and novel insights into disease biology, identifying new therapeutic targets in multiple disease areas spanning neurodegeneration, as well as inflammation and oncology. Violet’s initial drug discovery programs will focus on diseases affecting the Central Nervous System (CNS).”
Jonathan Behr, PhD, Partner at the DDF, said: “The investment in Violet Therapeutics marks the first from our new fund generation, DDF-2. Finding effective treatments for dementia remains one of the greatest unmet medical challenges. We are impressed with the innovative approach that Violet has developed as it takes on this challenge, and are proud to support the company as it seeks to identify and develop effective therapeutics for diseases including dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
Atsushi Usami, PhD, Partner and Board Director at the UTEC, added: “It is a great privilege to collaborate with Violet, a company dedicated to developing innovative solutions for drug discovery, particularly for diseases like neurodegenerative conditions with significant unmet medical needs. We firmly believe that Violet's groundbreaking technologies will facilitate the exploration of new drugs by identifying novel target molecules and mechanisms that have yet to be discovered.’’
In connection with the financing, Jonathan Behr and Atsushi Usami have joined Violet’s Board of Directors along with existing investor director, Meredith Fisher at Mass General Brigham Ventures. Shunishiro Matsumoto from Ono Venture Investments joined as an Observer.
About Violet Therapeutics
Violet Therapeutics is a pre-clinical stage company leveraging first-in-class platforms to identify, map and mine the cellular connectome at scale. Violet’s initial drug discovery programs are focused on CNS diseases enabled by the novel targets elucidated by their platforms. Violet was co-founded in 2021 by Mass General Brigham Ventures and scientists from Brigham & Women’s Hospital.
About the Dementia Discovery Fund
The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) is the world’s largest family of specialized venture capital funds that invests exclusively in companies developing or enabling novel therapeutics for dementia, managed by SV Health Investors. Dementias including Alzheimer’s Disease are arguably the largest unmet medical need with over 55m patients worldwide. With more than $475m raised for this strategy, and offices in London and Boston, DDF capitalizes on global investment opportunities to fulfill its dual mandate of delivering measurable impact and generating significant financial returns. Utilizing its network of venture partners, entrepreneurs, leading scientists, and strategic partners, DDF invests in and creates new biotech companies and provides thought leadership in the field. DDF is enabled by its limited partners including major pharmaceutical companies (Biogen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Co., GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda), along with AARP, Aegon, Bill Gates, British Patient Capital, NFL Players Association, Quest Diagnostics, UnitedHealth Group, and the non-profits Alzheimer’s Research UK and LifeArc. Learn more at www.ddf.vc.
For more information about the DDF please contact:
Sylvie Berrebi, Frazer Hall, Mark Swallow PhD
About UTEC (University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners)
The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) is one of the largest Japanese venture capital firms focused on seed and early-stage deep tech startups. UTEC has strong connections with the University of Tokyo and other academic institutions. UTEC invests in startups that leverage science and technology to address global challenges. In 2021, UTEC established its latest fund, UTEC 5 Limited Partnership, with a commitment of over JPY 30 billion ($220 million), bringing the total funds managed to nearly JPY 85 billion ($620 million). Since its establishment in 2004, UTEC has invested in over 150 startups globally, spanning Japan, the US, Europe, Southeast Asia, and India. Among these, 19 companies have gone public, such as PeptiDream (listed on TSE in June 2013) and 908 Devices (listed on Nasdaq in December 2020), while 20 others have achieved significant exits, primarily through M&A transactions. Examples include Repertoire Genesis (acquired by Eurofins Scientific SE in May 2022) and OriCiro Genomics (acquired by Moderna, Inc. in February 2023). For more information, please visit www.ut-ec.co.jp/english/.
About Mass General Brigham Ventures
Mass General Brigham Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm founded in 2008 to advance new life science technologies emerging from Mass General Brigham’s vast research network. Our unique model combines first access and proprietary rights to disruptive deal flow with an established track record of new venture formation, company building, and value creation. We invest in bold, transformative innovations to develop new drugs and technologies to improve outcomes for the market benefit of patients worldwide.
For more information please contact:
Meredith Fisher, CEO
 Iain C. Clark et al., Barcoded viral tracing of single-cell interactions in central nervous system inflammation. Science 372, eabf1230 (2021).