Samsara Biocapital, Evotec and KCK Launch Autobahn Labs, a Novel Early Stage Drug Discovery Incubator

Autobahn Labs and UCLA Announce Strategic Collaboration

PALO ALTO, CA and HAMBURG, Germany (June 24, 2020) — Samsara BioCapital, a leading life sciences investment firm, Evotec SE, a global drug discovery alliance and development partnership company (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: EVT, MDAX/TecDAX, ISIN: DE0005664809), and KCK Ltd., a family investment fund, today announced the launch of Autobahn Labs, a novel virtual incubator partnering with top academic and research institutions to catalyze early-stage drug discovery and development. Autobahn Labs also announced a first-in-kind strategic collaboration with UCLA Technology Development Group to identify and advance the most promising areas of scientific research with the greatest potential for patient therapies.

“Autobahn Labs was created to be a catalyst for translational research, working with academic scientists and institutions to design and execute an accelerated path to deliver transformational new therapies,” said Thomas Novak, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Autobahn Labs. “We are very excited to partner with UCLA, a university with a premier reputation for innovation in the life sciences, to realize the potential of that innovation for patients.”

“UCLA TDG’s mission is centered on innovation, research, teaching and entrepreneurship to benefit society,” said Amir Naiberg, Associate Vice Chancellor, CEO & President of UCLA Technology Development Group. “TDG is exploring new models for Tech Transfer, this novel strategic collaboration with Autobahn Labs allows us to partner with industry experts earlier than ever before. We believe this will enable us to accelerate the transformation of our early scientific research into new drugs.”

Built on a model of long-term partnership and collaboration, Autobahn Labs invests earlier than traditional venture financing models, providing intellectual, financial and physical capital to efficiently and effectively advance new scientific discoveries from novel concept to preclinical drug candidate. Working in partnership with leading scientists and university tech transfer offices, the incubator identifies and de-risks early-stage research projects with significant therapeutic potential. Autobahn Labs creates jointly-owned new companies and invests up to $5M per project. This model provides Principal Investigators with scientific and operational strategy as well as direct and immediate access to Evotec’s state-of-the-art drug discovery and development technologies and capabilities, including more than 3,000 scientists with proven drug discovery expertise.

“Many of the most important advances in medicine were born in university labs,” said Srinivas Akkaraju, MD, PhD, Managing General Partner, Samsara BioCapital. “While government funding and grants support basic research, there are limited resources available for translational research, particularly in the early stages. Autobahn Labs is investing early with a long-term perspective and a strong commitment to each program’s success.” 

“Autobahn Labs is a one-of-a-kind incubator that builds on the well-established foundation of our model of academic partnership programs, to support multiple academic institutions,” said Dr. Werner Lanthaler, Chief Executive Officer of Evotec. “Providing both funding and access to a powerful drug development platform, Autobahn Labs will be able to efficiently translate the ground-breaking research of leading academic institutions into medical progress to benefit patients with unmet medical need. We are very glad about our first partnership with the internationally renowned UCLA.”

Autobahn Labs has assembled a Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board composed of highly experienced biotechnology industry experts and successful drug discoverers.

Board members include:

  • Perry Karsen, Executive Chair of Autobahn Labs, Venture Partner at Samsara BioCapital
  • Thomas Novak, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, Autobahn Labs
  • Srinivas Akkaraju, MD, PhD, Founder and Managing General Partner at Samsara BioCapital
  • Thomas Hanke, PhD, Executive Vice President, Head of Academic Partnerships, Evotec
  • Nety Krishna, PhD, Senior Managing Director, KCK
  • Abraham Bassan, Vice President, Samsara BioCapital (observer)

Scientific Advisors include:

  • John Curnutte, MD, PhD, former Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Portola Pharmaceuticals, President of Schering-Plough Biopharma
  • Steve Kelsey, MD, President of Research and Development at Revolution Medicines
  • James Larrick, MD, PhD, CEO at Panorama Research
  • Robert Stein, MD, PhD, Operating Partner at Samsara BioCapital

About Autobahn Labs

Autobahn Labs is a new model for early-stage drug discovery and development, partnering with leading research institutions to accelerate the advancement of novel science to deliver transformational new therapies for patients. We invest intellectual, financial and physical capital, applying our proven drug discovery framework to efficiently and effectively move projects from feasibility to novel drug candidates. Autobahn Labs was created by Samsara BioCapital, a leading life sciences venture capital firm, Evotec, a global leader in drug discovery research and KCK Ltd, a family investment fund. For more information, visit

About Samsara BioCapital

Samsara BioCapital is a new breed of biotech investment fund focused on translating cutting-edge biology into new therapies to treat patients with unmet medical needs. Founded in 2016 by Srinivas Akkaraju, MD, PhD, our team of scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs takes a long-term view to value creation across all stages of public and private life science companies. We believe in a collaborative, hands-on approach, working closely with entrepreneurs to harness exciting scientific advances and build leading companies. Samsara actively manages approximately US$410 million in assets on behalf of endowments, foundations, and family offices. For more information, visit

About Evotec SE

Evotec is a drug discovery alliance and development partnership company focused on rapidly progressing innovative product approaches with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academics, patient advocacy groups and venture capitalists. We operate worldwide and our more than 3,000 employees provide the highest quality stand-alone and integrated drug discovery and development solutions from target to clinic. For additional information, please go to and follow us on Twitter @Evotec.

About KCK Ltd.

KCK, Ltd. is a single-family, evergreen fund with offices in the SF Bay Area and New York City. We invest across a broad range of sectors and in companies of all stages in the US, Europe and Emerging Markets, including in biotech, industrials, deep tech, med tech and financial services. Our investments are flexible and long-term, with a unique focus on technically and scientifically challenging projects.

Lissette Steele
Verge Scientific Communications