Petro, Harrison and Mirchandani’s Eleanor Health closes an oversubscribed round

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing May 17, 2021

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Kang-led Appia Bio receives $52M in Series A funding

A company developing next-generation therapies that is led by JJ Kang and evolved out Lili Yang’s research has launched after landing financing. Appia Bio, Inc. received $52 million in Series A financing led by 8VC, with participation from Two Sigma Ventures, and seed investors Sherpa Healthcare Partners and Freeflow Ventures. Margo Roberts, former CSO at Kite Pharma and Lyell Immunopharma, has joined the board.

Based in Los Angeles, Appia works on the development of engineered allogeneic cell therapies from hematopoietic stem cells for cancer patients. The company is focused on discovering and developing off-the-shelf therapies across a broad array of cancer indications, utilizing a technology platform with the goal to increase access for patients. In a statement, JJ said the capital “will position us to rapidly build out our CAR-iNKT pipeline and establish the clinical potential of our ACUA platform.”

Bolseth-led HelpSystems makes two acquisitions

HelpSystems, whose CEO is Kate Bolseth, makes two acquisitions on the heels of adding a new private equity investor. An Eden Prairie, Minn. provider of IT operations management, security and analytics solutions, HelpSystems acquired Agri Data, Inc. and Beyond Security. The financial terms of both deals were not disclosed.

Based in Foster City, Calif., Agari develops enterprise solutions to protect against advanced email threats. It received backing from such investors as Goldman Sachs Growth Equity, Norwest Venture Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, Greylock Partners, First Round Capital and Alloy Ventures. Beyond Security develops vulnerability assessment and management software. It does not appear to have raised venture capital.

The acquisitions come only a week after Harvest Partners SCF made a “minority investment” in HelpSystems. Other investors in the company include TA Associates, Charlesbank Capital Partners and HGGC.

Katie Gamble, a senior associate with TA, and Anna Ike, a vice president with HGGC, both list HelpSystems as a portfolio company. HGGC invested in the company in 2018 and TA and Charlesbank came in 2019 – the same year that Kate took over as CEO. Kate joined HelpSystems in 2015.

Snover’s Remedy Health raises $11M in Series A funding

Investors get behind a 3-D printing technology startup founded by Melissa Snover that is creating health and wellness products such as gummy vitamins. Remedy Health raised $11 million in Series A funding from ADM Ventures, Cibus Fund, Apater Capital and Henkel X. It is now valued at $71.6 million.

Based in Birmingham, U.K, Remedy utilizes 3-D printing technology to produce personalized health and wellness solutions. It is best known for its gummy vitamin product, Nourished.

As a registered nutritionist, Melissa founded the company in 2019 after noticing a significant increase in the number of personalized nutrition products. In a statement, Melissa said Remedy’s goal “is to offer truly personalized nutrition in a single daily format; we utilize our patented 3-D printing technology to achieve this, something no one else in the world can do. We provide the highest quality active ingredients available to support every individual’s specific needs and goals.”

Remedy will use the capital to expand its Nourished portfolio, adding lines for kids and protein bars.

Fairhead’s Phico Therapeutics lands 7M pounds of funding

Heather Fairhead’s effort to overcome antibiotic resistance receives a shot of capital. Phico Therapeutics lands 7 million pounds of funding from BGF and existing backers.

Based in Cambridge, U.K., Phico is developing a breakthrough biotechnology platform for a new generation of antibiotics to overcome antibacterial resistance. According to the company, antibiotic resistance is recognized internationally as one of the biggest threats facing global health and the effective treatment of certain diseases. Phico estimates it is the cause of over 700,000 deaths each year.

BGF’s investment will support the continued development of the company’s SASPject technology platform and the development PT3.9, a product developed on the platform. It is designed for the intravenous treatment of hospital infections caused by the bacterium pseudomonas aeruginosa, for use in ventilated hospital acquired pneumonia and ventilator associated pneumonia.

The funding follows the company’s recent grant of 13.2 million pounds from Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator, the Boston-based, global non-profit partnership dedicated to accelerating antibacterial research to tackle the global rising threat of drug-resistant bacteria. That funding will support the development of SASPject PT3.9 through clinical trials. The milestone-based funding represents one of the largest awards made by the non-profit since it was established.

BGF invests in growth economy companies including more than 30 life science businesses, with its current portfolio spanning diagnostics, medtech and digital health, as well as services, software and tools supporting therapeutic development.

Leeds Equity Partners invests in Buerk’s engage2learn

Leeds Equity Partners provides support to a company founded by Shannon Buerk focused on professional development for those working in public schools. The amount invested was not disclosed. engage2learn provides professional development coaching and technology tools serving districts in the public K-12 market. The company provides personalized learning, job-embedded coaching and technology tools for leaders, instructional coaches and teachers.

Shannon, who founded engage2learn in Portland, Texas 10 years ago, will continue to serve as CEO. In a statement, she said, “Leeds Equity was our partner of choice given their unparalleled education sector experience and track record of investing to accelerate innovation and growth. We look forward to our next chapter as an organization in partnership with Leeds Equity and continuing to positively serve our educators, staff, students, and their families.”

Leeds Equity is a New York-based private equity firm dedicated exclusively to partnering with management teams in the education, training and information services industries.

Dingivan-led Emmes makes an acquisition

Emmes, a private equity-backed clinical research organization led by Dr. Christine Dingivan, makes an acquisition. Terms of Emmes’ purchase of Orphan Reach were not disclosed. Orphan is a CRO specializing in clinical research related to rare diseases. It is the second acquisition that Rockville, Md.-based Emmes has done in the past six months. In December, it acquired Neox SRO. Behrman Capital made what was described as a “significant investment” in Emmes in 2019.

Christine joined the company last fall after being a senior executive with Novartis. She replaced Anne Lindblad who retired after 38 years at Emmes – the last seven as CEO.

Caliujnaia’s Sanlo lands $3.5M in funding

A company co-founded by Olya Caliujnaia to empower gaming and app companies with financial products lands funding. Sanlo has raised $3.5 million in a funding round co-led by Index Ventures and Initial Capital, with participation from LVP, Portag3 Ventures and XYZ Venture Capital. It also included prominent angel investors and operators such as Kristian Segerstrale, Gokul Rajaram and Charley Ma.

Based in San Francisco, Sanlo will use these funds to grow its team and continue building a proprietary technology that analyzes different facets of the business to help game and app developers know where to deploy capital while assisting with access to capital.

In a statement, Olya said, “companies may not always be able to fully realize their potential because of the insufficient visibility into their financial picture and, therefore, miss opportunities to get timely insights and suitable financing to accelerate growth. We want to change that by taking all of the guesswork out of the financial side of running and growing the business.” Olya began her career in venture capital in one of the first mobile-focused funds, before moving to operator roles in gaming, stock photography and fintech at EA, Getty Images and SigFig. She later joined XYZ Venture Capital as an entrepreneur in residence.

Casentini’s Resource Innovations is acquired by BV Investment Partners

Resource Innovations, which whose founder and CEO is Lauren Casentini, is acquired by a private equity firm. Terms of BV Investment Partners’ investment in the San Francisco-based company were not disclosed.

Resource is a provider of demand-side management, energy efficiency and energy consulting services, and is led by an all-women C-suite. Concurrent with BV’s investment, Resource acquired Nexant, Inc., an energy software and consulting firm. The combined company will focus on providing energy and software solutions for utilities and commercial, industrial and residential energy consumers.

Lauren spent more than a decade at Pacific Gas and Electric Company, where she spearheaded some of the nation’s first and most successful energy efficiency and market transformation programs, including PG&E’s first program dedicated to serving the low-income market.

BV is a middle-market private equity firm focused on the tech-enabled business services, software and IT services sectors.

Trivisvavet-led Inari raises $208M in Series D funding 

Investors plant significant capital in a company led by Ponsi Trivisvavet that is out to sustainably transform the global food system. Inari raised $208 million in Series D financing from founding investor Flagship Pioneering, new investors G Squared and Pavilion Capital and existing investors Alexandria Venture Investments, Investment Corporation of Dubai, Rivas Capital and Banque Pictet on behalf of their clients. Inari has now raised more than $352 million.

Inari will use the capital to advance its mission to restore diversity in food by unlocking the full potential of seed though its SEEDesign platform. The funding also enables the Cambridge, Mass. company to further accelerate advancements across its science platform and product development for corn and soybeans in both North and South America.

In a statement, Ponsi said, “we are taking a nature positive approach to advance new possibilities with seed using predictive design and advanced multiplex gene editing. Our technology matches the complexity and diversity of nature to address the needs of the planet and society. And we have the ability to enhance any seed for any geography, making our products – and impact – globally scalable.”

Petro, Harrison and Mirchandani’s Eleanor Health raises capital

A provider of outpatient addiction and mental health services founded by Corbin Petro, Dr. Nzinga Harrison and Srishti Mirchandani raises additional capital. Eleanor Health closed an oversubscribed $20 million in Series B financing led by Warburg Pincus with participation from existing investors including Town Hall Ventures, Echo Health Ventures, and Mosaic Health Solutions.

Based in Waltham, Mass., Eleanor currently operates 18 clinics with a fully virtual model and will manage more than 50,000 members under its population-based partnership models by 2022. It will use the capital to meet increased need for population, value-based, whole-person care for individuals with substance use disorder and mental health needs. The company plans to scale the business by executing additional payer contracts to manage new populations and further developing its proprietary analytics and technology platform that will support identification, engagement and treatment of those who need the services the most.

In a statement, Corbin, who is CEO, said that the infusion of capital “will be instrumental in furthering our ability to engage, treat, and produce high-quality outcomes while reducing the total cost of care for patients. With the addiction crisis continuing to worsen, many have ignored the most important fact about addiction: it’s chronic. When cared for in the right way, using a whole-person and evidence-based approach, people have the ability to not only survive, but thrive.”

Mahoney-led DecoPac trades hands

Seven months after taking over as CEO of DecoPac, Inc., Cindy Mahoney sees the world’s largest supplier of cake decorations to professional cake decorators and bakeries sold by one private equity firm to another. Terms of Kohlberg & Company’s purchase of the Anoka, Minn. company from Snow Phipps Group were not disclosed.

DecoPac offers a variety of edible and non-edible products, including sprinkles, fondant, pastry bags and various inedible figurines. It provides tech-enabled platforms like PhotoCake, which allows bakeries to print edible, customizable images onto baked goods, and Cakes.com, which allows consumer to personalize baked goods online. DecoPac employs approximately 650 employees.

Cindy joined DecoPac in October from Hallmark Cards, Inc. where she was president and CEO of its international business.

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