Digital health firm Akili raises $163m in Nasdaq listing

Akili has started trading publicly today, raising $163 million as a result of its merger with a blank cheque company, saying the cash injection will help fund further development of its video-game based digital therapeutics (DTx).

The company made its debut on the Nasdaq on Friday under the AKLI ticker with a starting share price of $9.65, and made swift gains, more than doubling to $20-plus in trading today having spiked as high as $36.

In a statement, Akili – part of the Puretech group – said that the proceeds will fund the launch of EndeavorRx, its FDA-cleared and CE Mark-certified DTx for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is used to improve attention function in children aged eight to 12.

It will also allow it to develop EndeavorRx for other ADHD patient populations, and bring forward additional DTx candidates designed to treat neuropsychiatric diseases, including autism spectrum disorder, multiple sclerosis and depression.

The gross proceeds from the listing come on the back of a $160 million fourth-round financing for Akili last May that was supported by a number of pharma groups and took its total capital raised to $230 million.

EndavorRx was approved by the FDA in 2020 and is scheduled to be launched in the US market in the fourth quarter of this year, said Akili.

Now that the merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Social Capital Suvretta Holdings Corp I has closed, the company’s principle Chamath Palihapitiya – a former Facebook executive and founder and CEO of investment group Social Capital – will come on board as Akili’s chair.

The digital health company’s co-founder and chief executive Eddie Martucci will continue to lead Akili’s management team and serve on the combined company’s board.

Palihapitiya tweeted that ” there are limited options and access to treat the cognitive issues (memory/attention/etc) associated with diseases like depression, autism, ADHD.”

“Treatments like therapy & pills may help mood, but don’t target cognition – which can be just as debilitating to daily life,” he added. “Akili has pioneered an entirely new category of medicine designed to directly and safely target these issues in the brain.”

The market debut comes amid a downturn in financing deals for the digital health category. According to a recent Rock Health report, the first half of 2022 saw 329 digital health funding deals totalling $10.3 billion, a sharp reduction on the $14.7 billion raised in the first half of 2021 from 372 deals – although still well up on 2020 levels.

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