Executives from the shuttered Boston digital health company Pear Therapeutics are launching a new VC firm, offering early access to new startups formed by serial biotech entrepreneur Bob Langer.
Former Pear CEO Corey McCann and former licensing head Michael Langer formed the new firm, T.rx Capital, earlier this year, according to three people with knowledge of the firm and documents reviewed by STAT. Michael Langer, the son of Bob Langer, confirmed the news and that they had set a $175 million cap for its first fund.
The firm will invest in therapeutics and digital health products by forming new companies and taking pitches from early-stage startups. T.rx has brought in Everly Health executive Liz Kwo and Caris Life Sciences vice president Debbie Lin as venture partners, while current Eli Lilly business development team member Kwesi Frimpong-Boateng will be joining T.rx’s founding team. Bob Langer is a scientific adviser.
The elder Langer is prolific in the world of biotech startups. He’s helped found more than 40 companies, including Moderna and PureTech Health. His patents have been licensed or sublicensed to over 300 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, and medical device companies, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is a distinguished faculty member.
“We expect that Dr. Langer’s decades of wisdom in creating leading-edge companies, working with founders, and his deep expertise in science will be extremely helpful to our investment thesis,” Michael Langer said.
For many years, Bob Langer has maintained a close relationship with Boston VC firm Polaris Partners, which has funded more than half of his startups. Former Polaris employees said T.rx is unlikely to replace that relationship, and that the two firms will likely both invest in Bob Langer’s future companies. The two firms have an “informal but strong relationship,” according to Michael Langer.
The younger Langer founded the family-associated investment firm Old Silver VC in 2020. His father is a senior adviser to the firm, according to Pitchbook.
Michael Langer and McCann incorporated T.rx in February, just a couple of months before Pear Therapeutics filed for bankruptcy. The company had spent nearly a decade developing software-based medicines — also called digital therapeutics — for conditions like substance use disorder and insomnia. Pear received a landmark first clearance for a prescription digital therapeutic in 2017, but struggled to convince many insurance payers to reimburse the cost of the applications. The company burned over $100 million in cash in 2022 while just missing its modest revenue target of $14 million to $16 million.
In May, a business entity formed by McCann called Harvest Bio purchased several Pear assets at auction, including its pipeline candidates for schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and multiple sclerosis. Court documents show that Harvest Bio’s purchase was financially guaranteed by T.rx. The firm declined to comment on the purchase.
Mario Aguilar of STAT contributed to this report.