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Local Venture Capital Firm Raises $90 Million for Early-Stage Deep Tech Investments

Pasadena firm expands to Berkeley with investment in Catena Bio, a cancer treatment startup

Published on Monday, July 1, 2024 | 4:50 am
 

Freeflow Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm in Pasadena focused on science-driven solutions for health and environmental challenges, has raised $90 million in total funding. The firm announced on Friday that it had secured $50 million in new funds, doubling its previous fundraising efforts.

A Freeflow Ventures statement said the new capital includes a $35 million Fund Two and a $15 million Opportunity Fund. This brings Freeflow’s total assets under management to $90 million, including its earlier $25 million Fund One and $15 million in special purpose vehicles.

Founded in 2019, Freeflow began at Caltech and has since built its investment model around the innovation ecosystems of Caltech and, more recently, the University of California, Berkeley. The firm has made over 30 investments since 2020 in companies founded by leading scientists, including Nobel laureates Frances Arnold (Chemistry, 2018), David Baltimore (Physiology or Medicine, 1975), and Bob Grubbs (Chemistry, 2005).

In the statement, David Fleck, founder and managing partner of Freeflow Ventures, emphasized the significance of expanding to Berkeley. 

“This new funding enables us to expand our model to Berkeley, an important addition to our operating model because it shares so many similarities to Caltech and JPL where amazing founders working on large-scale solutions to important problems continue to create high quality investment opportunities,” Fleck said. “These two communities align very nicely with our focused thesis on human and planetary health.”

As part of its expansion, Freeflow announced its first investment in the Berkeley ecosystem: Catena Bio. The startup is developing next-generation Antibody Drug Conjugate technology for cancer treatment, aiming to improve patient outcomes through novel multi-payload capabilities.

Catena Bio’s technology was developed by CEO and co-founder Marco Lobba during his Ph.D. studies at UC Berkeley. Lobba worked in the labs of Matt Francis, Professor and Emeritus Chair of the Department of Chemistry, and Jennifer Doudna, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2020) for co-inventing CRISPR gene-editing technology.

Freeflow said its investment in Catena Bio reflects a strategy of supporting companies that blend fundamental and computational science to address significant challenges. The firm’s portfolio spans various sectors within human and planetary health, leveraging breakthrough scientific research.

The successful fundraising comes amid a challenging market for venture capital, highlighting investor confidence in Freeflow’s approach. By focusing on deep tech innovation from top research institutions, the firm aims to capitalize on groundbreaking scientific advancements.

Freeflow’s expansion to Berkeley is expected to enhance the firm’s deal flow and strengthen its position in the deep tech investment landscape, according to the statement. 

To learn more about Freeflow Ventures, visit https://freeflow.io/

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