Singapore Digest: X-Zell closes Seed+ round; blockchain startup Persistence bags $3.7m

X-ZELL Founder & CEO, Dr Sebastian Bhakdi (centre), and his international leadership team.

Healthtech startup X-ZELL has closed an oversubscribed Seed+ round led by German industrial service group Deutsche Industrieanlagen (DIAG); while blockchain startup Persistence secured $3.7 million from several VC firms.

X-ZELL closes oversubscribed Seed+ round

Singapore-based healthtech startup X-ZELL has closed an oversubscribed Seed+ round led by German industrial service group Deutsche Industrieanlagen (DIAG).

Initially capped at $3 million, the round was extended to $4 million at the start of 2020, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the clinical research landscape, it said in a statement on Thursday. “X-ZELL was backed by a variety of high-profile angel investors from Asia, Europe, and the US, as well as Hong Kong-based biopharmaceutical specialist, Essex biotechnology,” the company said.

X-ZELL specialises in the detection of early-stage cancers from small blood samples using a patented platform technology combining next-generation multiplexing with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

According to company founder and CEO Dr Sebastian Bhakdi, the funds collected will enable X-ZELL to scale up its R&D department and expand into new markets beyond Asia — with a special focus on his native country Germany and central Europe.

X-ZELL’s Seed+ round commenced in mid-2018 and gained significant momentum during the second half of 2019, according to Bhakdi. “2019 was a pivotal year for X-ZELL. It saw the highly anticipated publication of our first clinical data — confirming the vast potential of our cancer detection technology — as well as the opening of our new headquarters in Singapore,” he said.

Blockchain startup Persistence secures $3.7m

Persistence, a blockchain startup focused on Decentralised Finance (DeFi) and Open Finance (OpFi), has secured $3.7 million from several venture capital firms and investors.

Our mission has attracted the support of a plethora of industry VC heavyweights including Arrington XRP Capital, LuneX Ventures (crypto arm of Golden Gate Ventures), IOSG Ventures, Spark Digital Capital, Woodstock Fund, Incrypt (crypto arm of First Principles VC), Genesis Block HK, Moonrock Capital, NGC Ventures, AU21 Capital, and Amplifi Capital,” the company said in a post.

Other investors include Persistence ecosystem partners Alameda Research, Terraform Labs and 3Commas, Dokia Capital, SG-1 Validator, Cosmostation, and TRG Capital, and Quantstamp founder Richard Ma and Bitcoin.com Exchange head Danish Chaudhry (head of Bitcoin.com exchange).

Persistence provides the tools for seamless institutional DeFi adoption and also caters to crypto-native users using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to tokenise real-world assets (such as invoices), which can be used by companies as collateral for acquiring loans and traded on decentralised marketplaces.

“A core goal of Arrington XRP Capital is to assist blockchain innovators to create value in the real world. The merging of blockchain and fintech is beginning to usher in a new era of open finance which is poised to transform global finance mechanisms,” Arrington XRP Capital, TechCrunch, and Crunchbase founder Michael Arrington said.

Persistence co-founder and CEO Tushar Aggarwal said: “We’ve laid the technical groundwork for a new era of blockchain-powered, real-world value creation and we have built a strong network of strategic partners.”

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.