Chicago-based Tempus got its start in 2015, and in the last three years has rocketed into unicorn territory. The startup, founded by Groupon founder Eric Lefkofsky, aims to use data to come up with better cancer treatments, using both clinical data — information such as what medications patients have taken and how they have responded to them — and genetic data from the tumors of cancer patients.
In March, Tempus raised $80 million, bringing its total funding to $210 million.
Rani Therapeutics — $1 billion
Biotech startup Rani Therapeutics is taking on a problem that has eluded companies for decades — finding a way to turn injectable drugs into pills for people living with chronic conditions. The approach has the potential to upend billion-dollar markets for drugs such as insulin, and current treatments for autoimmune conditions like Humira.
The San Jose-based company raised $53 million in February from Alphabet's venture investment arm GV. To date, Rani has raised $107 million.
Clover Health — $1.2 billion
Clover Health sells Medicare Advantage health insurance plans. When seniors in the US turn 65, they can choose to be part of either traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage, which is operated through private insurers like Clover and often provides additional healthcare benefits. The hope for New Jersey-based Clover and other technology-based health insurers is to use data to improve patients' health.
In January, CNBC reported that the company had hit some rough patches, including upsetting members who faced unexpected bills and missing financial targets.
Founded in 2014, the company most recently raised $130 million in May 2017, bringing its total funding raised to $425 million.
Auris Health — $1.28 billion
Auris Health is the fourth venture of Frederic Moll, who's dubbed the "Bill Gates of robotics." He was behind the DaVinci surgical robots that helped surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery. Now at Auris, the Redwood City, California-based company developed a surgical tool to help doctors diagnose lung cancer earlier.
The technology, known as Monarch, got FDA approval in March. "We believe that Monarch will become the go-to approach for diagnosing lung cancer in the future," Auris chief scientific officer Josh DeFonzo told Business Insider shortly after the approval.
Ginkgo Bioworks is a startup that designs microbes to produce substances like fragrances or medications. The Boston-based company sends the programmed bugs to partner companies that put them to use. And in September 2017, Ginkgo formed a $100 million joint venture with Bayer to develop microbes that could lead to more sustainable agriculture practices.
In December 2017, the company raised $275 million at a $1.3 billion valuation. In total, Ginkgo's raised $429 million.
Indigo Agriculture — $1.4 billion
Indigo Agriculture is harnessing plant microbiome to try to make plants more likely to survive. Indigo does this by coating seeds with certain microbes, with the hopes that the plants will better withstand poor soil conditions, drought, and insects.
The Boston-based company raised $203 million from investors including the Investment Corporation of Dubai in December, valuing the company at $1.4 billion. In total, the company's raised $359 million.
HeartFlow — $1.5 billion
Redwood City, California-based HeartFlow is trying to make the process of finding blockages in the heart a lot less invasive. Using imaging from a CT scan, Heartflow builds a 3D model that pinpoints the blockages associated with coronary artery disease, a heart condition that affects millions of Americans and is the leading cause of death in the US.
HeartFlow reached unicorn status in 2018 after raising $240 million, bringing its total funding to $476 million.
Proteus Digital Health — $1.5 billion
Proteus Digital Health is developing what is known as digital therapeutics: pills with built-in chips designed to communicate that a patient has taken his or her dose. When ingested, the pill communicates with a patch worn on the patient's body, which in turn sends signals to an app that collects the information for the patient and whomever the patient chooses to share it with.
In November, the Redwood City, California-based company's first drug — a version of Otsuka's schizophrenia drug Abilify — was approved.
Human Longevity, cofounded by the genomics pioneer J. Craig Venter, wants to get a comprehensive view of your health through an extensive, $25,000 physical exam with the hopes that along the way doctors may be able to catch diseases sooner and keep you alive longer.
The San Diego-based company has raised $300 million for the endeavor.
BenevolentAI — $2 billion
BenevolentAI is a UK-based startup that uses artificial intelligence to discover new treatments for conditions like Parkinson's disease and rare cancers. Ideally, BenevolentAI's technology can amplify that information, opening up the possibility of finding more experimental drugs.
UK-based Oxford Nanopore makes technology used in labs to sequence DNA, the genetic code that makes up living organisms. The company specializes in reading longer strings of DNA, using small devices that are about the size of an original iPod Shuffle.
Founded in 2012, Oscar Health is a health-insurance startup that got its start operating on the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges. The goal is to be a more consumer-friendly insurance option by integrating technology.
For example, in 2017, the New York-based company put its members' healthcare data onto a single platform that may be accessible to doctors treating a patient. The company has also built out concierge healthcare services available to all its members.
In 2019, Oscar plans to be in nine states, including Florida, Arizona and Michigan.
In March, Oscar raised $165 million, bringing its total funding to $892 million and upping its valuation to $3.2 billion.
Intarcia Therapeutics, a Gates Foundation-backed biotech, is developing implantable devices intended to treat conditions like Type 2 diabetes and to prevent HIV.
In September 2017, the Food and Drug Administration put the Boston-based company's plans for its diabetes implant on hold, citing manufacturing concerns.
Intarcia has the chance to file for approval again after changes are made. "We remain confident in the approvability of ITCA 650 and we look forward to working very closely with the FDA on next steps," CEO Kurt Graves said in a letter on the company's website.
In September, the company also said it was raising more than $600 million. To date, the company's raised $1.6 billion.
3. Outcome Health — $5.5 billion
Outcome Health made a splash in May 2017 when the company raised $500 million at a $5.5 billion valuation from investors including CapitalG, Pritzker Group, Goldman Sachs, and Leerink Transformation Partners.
As part of a settlement with investors, in January the company's founders Rishi Shah and Shradha Agarwal, stepped down from their roles as CEO and president to become chairman and vice chair of the board, respectively. In June, the company named advertising veteran Matt McNally as its CEO.
Moderna Therapeutics, a company developing treatments based on messenger RNA, has raised eyebrows in the biotech community for its high valuation along with its secretive nature. Its goal is to use synthetic mRNA to get cells to make proteins the body needs to treat conditions like cancer and viral infections, essentially transforming cells into drugmakers. For example, the company is testing personalized cancer vaccines that are tailored to just one person's tumors.
Founded in 2010, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Modern most recently raised another $500 million, bringing its total amount raised to $1.5 billion and upping its valuation to $7 billion.
1. Samumed — $12 billion
Samumed, the highest-valued private biotech on this list, is a company you've most likely never heard of.
The San Diego-based company has attracted $300 million in funding and a heady valuation thanks to a pipeline of what could be revolutionary treatments to regenerate hair, skin, bones, and joints.
The company's science hinges on something called progenitor stem cells. Samumed hopes to manipulate the pathway that makes these progenitor stem cells spring into action, so that they don't cause conditions like hair loss or osteoarthritis.