Koniku Inc., a Nigerian-founded, California-based biotech company, has announced the close of its Series A financing round led by Platform Capital Investment Partners, a Nigeria-based private equity firm.
Founded in 2017 by Oshiorenoya Agabi, a Nigerian-born scientist who now runs the company’s team of engineers in Silicon Valley. Koniku’s technology is a fusion of traditional computer cells with living biological neurons to give computers power to detect odors.
The company’s product, Konikore, can sniff bombs and detect diseases. The technology can do this by detecting 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.
“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.
As part of the terms of the deal, 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.
“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 said in an interview.
“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.
Per CrunchBase, Koniku has raised a total of $1.7 million spread over 4 rounds. Platform Capital and Sand Hill Angels are the most recent investors.
Koniku’s latest round provides the company with “the necessary resources and momentum to deliver on our objectives,”
“The clear goals we have set for the next two years ensure that we will be moving forward with surgical precision.” The company said in a statement.