Start-up insights: AminoAnalytica

Abhi Rajendran is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Department of Materials. Together with recent alumnus Adam Wu, they have founded a new start-up, AminoAnalytica and are participating in this year’s Venture Catalyst Challenge, Imperial College London’s flagship entrepreneurial competition.

In this new blog post, the team tell us more about their start-up and what they’ve learned so far.

Can you tell us more about your company?

One of the main challenges when making drugs is that it takes a long time to test them in a laboratory. A lot of time and cost is spent on screening thousands of proteins in a lab, often to find only one has a chance of making it to a phase-one clinical trial. It can cost over $1000 to physically screen a single compound, making this process incredibly wasteful.

Our new company, AminoAnalytica is a protein property prediction software that aims to accelerate drug discovery. We develop an AI tool to predict the physical properties of drugs before you need to synthesise them in the real world. This means the only drugs that are made are the drugs that will cure your target disease.

Long term, we are aiming to form strategic partnerships with biotech companies where we can combine their in-house data with our proprietary datasets to develop the most accurate virtual screening method for protein-based therapeutics.

What was the inspiration behind starting your company?

I took a deep dive into the into the world of protein modelling as part of my MEng project with Dr Stefano Angioletti-Uberti. This was new space for me, but I did have some prior experience in data-driven environments which was quite applicable. As soon as I started to see promising technical results from my project, I reached out to my housemate Adam Wu who graduated from the Department of Materials last year.

Using his experience in business consulting, we assessed the market and made a few calculations to see if there was potential in the property prediction space. From there, we applied to the Imperial Venture Catalyst Challenge and got accepted onto the 2024 AI x Robotics track.

Starting a business as a student or new graduate can be challenging. Have you had any obstacles and how have you navigated these? 

At this stage in our careers, it has been challenging to grow a significant network in the biotech/pharma space – this makes everything from customer discovery, idea refinement and feedback a challenge. Fortunately, the Enterprise lab at Imperial have been incredibly helpful in perfecting our approach to reaching out and we’ve met some very useful people as a result.

In addition to this we have got involved in several student led organisations such as Nucleate (biotech community) which has been great for sparking interesting conversations with academics and industry leaders.

Are there any key lessons or skills you’ve learned through the process?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people, just be honest about what you know and what you are after – most people are actually out to help you!

Since publishing this blog post, AminoAnalytica has won its track and is a finalist in the Venture Catalyst Challenge 2024 Grand Final!

Get your tickets for the Grand Final.