HOUSTON, Jan. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — First Bight Ventures, the Houston-based VC firm, which focuses exclusively on the advancement and acceleration of early-stage Synthetic Biology companies, has established a group of veteran advisors who will work together with Founder Veronica Wu, and play a critical role in the development of the firm’s investment and growth strategy. The six individuals offer relevant industry and domain experience within the Energy, Equity Investments, Life Sciences, and Natural Resources industries.
Dr. Ethel Rubin is an experienced life sciences executive with commercialization and investment experience across multiple therapeutic areas and modalities. She has held leadership roles in global clinical strategy, external innovation, medical affairs, business and operations functions in both large public companies as well as entrepreneurial ventures. She earned a PhD in Biochemistry & Biophysics from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, was a fellow in the Breast Cancer Research Program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and holds Board certification from The George Washington University School of Business.
Lekan Akinyanmi has over three decades of experience in the oil/gas and natural resources sectors. He currently serves as Founder and CEO of Cambridge Growth Partners, a holding company with interests in mining, finance, oil/gas, and renewable energy. Mr. Akinyanmi received his MBA from MIT Sloan Business School and his Bachelors in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.
Dr. Guochun Liao is the founder of IDbyDNA, which focuses on utilizing next-generation sequencing and AI/ML for infectious disease management. He holds a Bachelors in Biophysics from the University of Science and Technology of China. He earned a Masters in Computer Science (AI), PhD in Genetics, and MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.
Mario Maia currently heads the corporate investment arm of Novozymes. His portfolio includes companies in the in the agri-food-energy-health sectors. holds an MA in Applied Finance from Macquarie University, a BSc in Civil Engineering from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, and Executive Certificates from Harvard Business School and The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Peter Oleksiak is a veteran financial executive who previously held the position of Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President for DTE Energy Co., a Fortune 500 diversified energy company, based in Michigan. Mr. Oleksiak received a Bachelors from Wayne State University (Michigan) and an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Davy Wang is Senior Director at Oracle Cloud. Prior to this Mr. Wang served as Chief Solutions Architect for Tencent Cloud, where he built and customized a strong and robust cloud platform for international customers, as well as helped enhance branding awareness and reputation in the United States. He received his Bachelors of Science in Information Engineering from Chong Qing Communication Institute and an MBA from University of Wales.
One of the firm’s advisors, Dr. Rubin, has consulted for VCs and other corporate clients, taking the lead on due diligence for investment and M&A efforts. “First Bight is taking a ‘first bite’ at accelerating innovation in this area by funding the most ambitious and visionary companies utilizing SynBio for the benefit of humankind,” said Rubin. “It’s a first-of-its-kind venture fund focused on Synthetic Biology for both life sciences and industrial applications, which is poised to drive significant value and growth across these sectors.”
Mr. Akinyanmi, who holds the position of Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LEKOIL Nigeria Limited, an Africa-focused oil exploration and production company, “is excited to work with a first-class team led by [Veronica Wu], and to play a role in applying cutting-edge Synthetic Biology technologies to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.”
“I am excited to be part of an organization whose purpose is to invest in cutting-edge companies,” said Mr. Oleksiak. “The use of science and technology will make a positive impact on our environment and overall quality of life,” he added.
Mr. Maia sees the timing (and acceleration) of Synthetic Biology as being particularly relevant.
“Synthetic Biology has come a long way in recent years through technological and economic advances with a fast-expanding deal flow of opportunities across a multitude of sectors and supported by a growing ecosystem.”
More about First Bight can be found on the company’s website at firstbight.com.
SOURCE First Bight Ventures