Investor appetite is growing for startups that can make proteomics faster, cheaper, and more informative for use in precision medicine. Here are five proteomics innovators that have raised significant investments in the last few years.

The growth of genomics has proven instrumental to the adoption of precision medicine by allowing researchers to map the genetics of complex diseases like cancer and predict how patients respond to treatments. However, genes alone are generally static and only reveal part of the bigger picture in a disease.

In contrast, the proteome—a set of proteins present in a cell, tissue, or other biological context—is dynamic and can reflect rapid changes in disease biology. For this reason, studying the proteome can be essential for predicting how a disease can develop and for speeding up drug discovery and diagnostics in the clinic.

The global proteomics market was valued at $36.8 billion in 2023 and could hit $72.9 billion by 2028, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets research. Some of the biggest players in the proteomics market are the U.S. suppliers Thermo Fisher Scientific, Danaher, Agilent Technologies, and Bruker Corporation, and Merck KGaA in Germany.

Several emerging proteomics companies have gone public in the last few years, like the U.S. firms Quantum-Si and Seer and Sweden’s Olink. These players are targets of interest for large companies, with some notable deals from last year including the takeover of Olink by Thermo Fisher for $3.1 billion, Bruker’s CHF 75 million ($84.6 million) investment in the German firm Biognosys, and the merger of the U.S. firms SomaLogic and Standard BioTools.

Institutional and strategic investors are also betting on newer startups that are pushing the boundaries of traditional proteomics techniques, like those based on mass spectrometry (MS) and gel electrophoresis. Many of the early-stage plays have already garnered impressive support from the likes of Bruker Corporation and Agilent.

Read on for our take on five top proteomics startups that have piqued the industry’s interest with major investment rounds in the last few years.

1. Alamar Biosciences
Founded: 2018
Headquarters: Fremont, California

Alamar Biosciences logo

The main co-founders of Alamar Biosciences have their roots in Advanced Cell Diagnostics, an RNA tissue imaging player that was snapped up by Bio-Techne in 2016. They set up their latest enterprise, Alamar, to develop a sensitive proteomics platform that can detect low-abundance proteins, such as those in blood plasma.

Alamar’s platform, named NULISA™, uses two antibodies that are conjugated with oligonucleotides, which in turn carry a barcode specific to the antibody target. The two antibodies form a complex when they find their protein target conjugate. The company can then wash out unbound antibodies to reduce non-specific binding and analyze the nucleotides using DNA sequencing technology and quantitative PCR.

Using this method, the company can screen up to thousands of proteins simultaneously from as little as one microliter of plasma.

One of Alamar’s notable investors is Illumina Ventures, which is backed by the DNA sequencing giant Illumina. The startup raised an impressive $128 million Series C round in February 2024, led by Sands Capital, with participation from undisclosed financial and strategic investors. Alamar plans to use the proceeds to boost its commercial and customer support capabilities and increase the range of its products. This follows on from an $80 million Series B round in 2021 led by Sherpa Healthcare Partners.

At the beginning of 2024, Alamar commercially launched a product called the ARGO™ HT System, designed to automatically run NULISA assays for proteins in biofluids. It also unveiled a panel product for profiling low-abundance proteins involved in immune responses.

Alamar set up a separate company in collaboration with Frazier Life Sciences, called Attovia Therapeutics, in 2023. The company was established with a $60 million Series A round to develop immunological therapies based on Alamar’s antibody technology.


2. Navignostics
Founded: 2022
Headquarters: Zurich, Switzerland

Navignostics logo

Navignostics’ co-founders originally worked together as academic researchers at the University of Zurich before spinning the company out from the university.

The startup uses a mix of spatial proteomics and artificial intelligence (AI) to offer diagnostic services that help clinicians target cancer immunotherapies more effectively than with current methods. They also aim to support clinical studies and help pharmaceutical companies speed up drug development.

The tests involve staining cancer tissues with antibodies attached to metal particles, which serve as labels. The company then screens the metal-labelled antibodies using imaging mass cytometry and constructs a digital map capable of profiling protein expression from single cells and even measuring cell-to-cell interactions. This helps researchers shed light on disease mechanisms and determine which patients may or may not benefit from a cancer drug.

Navignostics is also developing tests in collaboration with the University Hospital of Zurich to guide first-line treatments for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

To fund the development of its tests, Navignostics raised a seed round of CHF 7.5 million ($8.5 million) in November 2022 led by Bruker Invest, a subsidiary of Bruker. The startup also won a grant of around CHF 2.4 million ($2.7 million) from the Swiss Innovation Agency Innosuisse in November 2023 to fund the development of a single-cell proteomic test to guide immunotherapy.

Most recently, Navignostics inked a pact with Standard BioTools in February 2024 to use the latter’s imaging system and spur the development of its AI-fueled assays.


3. Nicoya
Founded: 2012
Headquarters: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

While working at the University of Waterloo, Canada, the CEO and co-founder of Nicoya, Ryan Denomme, observed that many researchers lacked access to cutting-edge proteomics equipment. He set up Nicoya to make these instruments more available to researchers around the world.

The company is developing technology based on surface plasmon resonance (SPR): a type of imaging that lets researchers see proteins and other molecules binding to one another in real-time without needing to label them first.

SPR typically involves coating a glass material with a gold film to make a sensor chip. One of the binding molecules of interest, called the ligand, is immobilized on the sensor. When a molecule binds to the ligand, it produces specific optical signals that are picked up by detectors to measure the binding activity.

Although SPR technology has been used for decades, it can be costly and difficult to set up for non-experts. Nicoya’s OpenSPR system uses a modified form of SPR with metal nanoparticles to make the hardware smaller, cheaper, more robust, and easier for researchers to use in drug discovery, diagnostics, and more.

To finance the development of its technology, Nicoya raised $20 million in a Series A round extension in December 2021, led by Whitecap Venture Partners. This took Nicoya’s total Series A winnings to $30 million. One of the strategic investors in this round was Agilent.

Nicoya is using the investment to expand globally and propel its product development. The firm took over the Canadian startup LSK Technologies in 2022 to snap up its rapid diagnostics technology for detecting nucleic acids and proteins. Most recently, Nicoya inked a distribution agreement with Medispec in February 2024 to expand its commercial reach to India.


4. Pixelgen Technologies
Founded: 2020
Headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden

Pixelgen Technologies logo

Single-cell profiling often focuses on gene expression of a single cell as a whole. However, a lot of spatial information between proteins in the cell is not picked up by traditional methods—information that can be crucial to understanding a cell’s function, particularly in the case of immune cells.

To address this issue, Pixelgen Technologies deploys a technology that it calls Molecular Pixelation to bind DNA-conjugated antibodies to the surface proteins of a cell. The company then adds DNA location barcodes that, once sequenced with the DNA on the antibodies, provide a spatial map of the cell’s surface proteins.

By doing so, the user can simultaneously identify large numbers of cell proteins and the spatial relationship between them. This helps users understand a cell’s spatial proteomics to provide insight into drug development and diagnostics.

Pixelgen raised $7.3 million in a Series A round in October 2023, backed by leading investors Industrifonden and returning seed round investor Navigare Ventures. The company is using the funding to fuel its commercial expansion, which was given a boost with the release of its first kit in June 2023.

Since the Series A round, Pixelgen has launched plans to distribute its products in Japan and Australia via partnerships with BioStream Co. and Australian Biosearch, respectively.

Pixelgen’s co-founder and CEO Simon Fredriksson was a co-founder of Olink, now part of Thermo Fisher. Other executives have their roots in companies like 10x Genomics, Vanadis Diagnostics, and Halo Genomics.


5. PreOmics
Founded: 2016
Headquarters: Munich, Germany

PreOmics logo

PreOmics’ MS-based proteomics technology was conceived by its co-founders when they worked at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

The technology, based on a proprietary in-StageTip (iST) method cuts the time and manual labor required to carry out typical proteomics preparation methods. For example, the firm optimizes the reagents, making them easier to combine at different times along the procedure and eliminating steps from the workflow.

As a result, PreOmics’ proteomics preparation kits are designed to take less than 2.5 hours to carry out, with less than an hour of manual time, compared with around 44 hours total time and up to 4.5 hours manual time required by a typical protocol. The kits can also be run automatically on PreOmics’ own PreON® product or on automation devices from Agilent, Hamilton, and Tecan.

The proteomics giant Bruker Corporation has shown significant interest in PreOmics, securing a majority stake in the company via a €13.5 million ($15 million) Series B round in January 2022. The companies are working together to pool their technologiea, like the PreOmics’ tissue homogenization BeatBox® product and Bruker’s timsTOF 4D proteomics platform, to develop complete and automated proteomics.

PreOmics also released specialized kits for proteomics in blood plasma and other biofluids in July 2023.


Jonathan Smith is a freelance science journalist based in the U.K. and Spain. He previously worked in Berlin as reporter and news editor at Labiotech, a website covering the biotech industry. Prior to this, he completed a PhD in behavioral neurobiology at the University of Leicester and freelanced for the U.K. organizations Research Media and Society of Experimental Biology. He has also written for medwireNews, Biopharma Reporter and Outsourcing Pharma.


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