Koniku Inc., a Nigerian-founded biotech company that operates out of California, on Friday said it has closed a Series A financing round led by Nigeria-based private equity firm, Platform Capital Investment Partners.
In the wake of the fresh investment, four new members will be joining the company’s board of directors, including Akintoye Akindele, Chairman and CEO of Platform Capital.
Other members named to the board are Kevin McAleenan, former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Markus Pertl, Chairman & CEO of the Stern Stewart Institute, and Ivan Genadiev – Partner at Andon Okapi Holdings & Former COO at Jumia.
Koniku was founded in 2017 by Oshiorenoya Agabi, a Nigerian-born scientist who now runs the company’s team of engineers in Silicon Valley. The company’s technology combines traditional computer cells with living biological neurons to give computers power to detect odours.
“The new age we are getting into is the age of biotech. It will change what it means to be human,” Agabi said on his visit to Nigeria in February 2020. Koniku means ‘immortal’ in Yoruba, one of three predominant languages in Nigeria.
The company’s product, Konikore, is able to sniff bombs and detect diseases. For each disease, the Konikore will aim to detect a defined set of biomarkers that are most closely associated with the disease. Beyond security and healthcare, the device has broad applications in industrial monitoring, energy, food and agriculture sectors, and more.
“As an early investor in the company, we saw how practical, sector-agnostic, and cutting-edge its technology is and the impact it could have in Africa. The founder is also African, intelligent, passionate, and committed to the Koniku vision,” Dr. Akintoye told TechCabal in an interview, explaining the rationale behind backing Koniku for a second time.
“As part of our vision at Platform Capital, we are interested in partnering with entrepreneurs bringing Africa to the world and using technology to solve Africa’s problems.”
In May last year, Koniku secured a deal with global aircraft manufacturer Airbus to develop aircraft safety solutions for detecting biological hazards and spotting chemical and explosive threats.
Koniku’s latest round provides the company with “the necessary resources and momentum to deliver on our objectives,” it said in a statement sent to TechCabal.
“The clear goals we have set for the next two years ensure that we will be moving forward with surgical precision.”