Dimension, which was founded by alumni of Lux Capital and Obvious Ventures, wants to focus on the intersection of life and computer sciences.
At first glance, it seems like a rough time for venture capital, especially in the healthcare industry. Overall, venture investments in 2022 were down 35% from 2021, according to CB Insights, with digital health investments down over 50%. Biopharma investment beat the trend a little bit, according to Evaluate Vantage, down only 23% from the year before.
That said, overall investment in healthcare is really just back to 2019 levels, a seeming regression to the mean after the pandemic spurred investment capital into areas like drug development, telehealth and other parts of the healthcare industry. What’s missing from the venture investment space for healthcare, argues investor Zavain Dar, 34, is a firm that’s prepared to capitalize on the growing intersection of biotech and computation.
“There was no form of firm that was sector-specific, wholly built soup-to-nuts to invest exactly at this intersection,” he tells Forbes.
That’s why Dar has left his previous firm, Lux Capital to join forces with fellow former Lux alumnus Adam Goulbourn and Obvious Ventures alumnus Nan Li. In March 2022, the three created a brand new venture capital company, Dimension, which aims to be that sector-specific firm.
“The gist of it is that we’re looking to build a new, very different hybrid investment firm that’s part traditional life science firm and part traditional software firm,” says Li, 36.
Despite the macroeconomic headwinds, the trio found plenty of people willing to invest in their vision. Their first fund, for which Dimension was seeking $300 million, closed in December and was oversubscribed at $350 million. One reason for that enthusiasm, Li says, is that “we were authentically following the calling of the industry and pulling on threads based on our investment track record and learnings from Lux and Obvious.”
Goulburn, 41, adds that key to the firm’s investment thesis is looking for companies that are truly embracing data science as an integrated part of research in biotech–companies that are looking for investors who are able to speak the same language.
“There’s hundreds of billions of R&D spend annually through life science companies,” he says. “It shouldn’t be a bolt-on sort of technology play from traditional life sciences and it shouldn’t be a piece of a larger strategy from general tech firms. This community deserves a sector focused fund. Entrepreneurs are craving investors that are native and multilingual in both life science and computational bio.”
Right now, Dimension is an early-stage fund, focused on seed and series A rounds, and it’s already writing checks. In its first year of operation, Dimension has already started making investments into four portfolio companies: Kaleidoscope Bio, which provides project tracking software for science teams; Enveda Biosciences, which is building AI tools to discover drugs from natural products; and Lamin AI, which is building a data infrastructure for R&D data from laboratories, making it easier to share information. The fourth company is still in stealth, Goulburn says.
From Dimension’s perspective, says Dar, this intersection where data science is digitizing life sciences is still in its infancy, and he sees his firm as launching at the right time to help determine the direction of the sector. “We’re excited to be able to write the playbooks, protocols and KPIs and help transform these companies,” he says.