Venture

Atomico promotes surgeon-turned-VC Irina Haivas to partner

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Irina Haivas, the surgeon-turned-VC who joined London-based VC firm Atomico in late 2018 and has already led several investments on behalf of the firm, has been promoted to partner.

Her Atomico investments to date include: Healx, the Cambridge, U.K.-based startup using AI to help discover new treatments for rare diseases (and is clearly a big bet for Atomico); Accurx, the messaging service for doctor surgeries (I broke news of the startup’s Atomico-led Series A back in February 2019); and Kheiron Medical Technologies, a machine-learning startup helping to support radiologists.

What’s particularly interesting about that list is that Haivas was able to lead those investments as a principal, dispelling the myth that you need to be a partner to source and lead investments — at least, that isn’t the case at Atomico. In that sense, it is business as usual, and being promoted is recognition of her work to date and clearly a sign that the VC doesn’t want to lose her.

To that end, Haivas will continue investing in “frontier technologies” and deep tech-driven enterprise companies, but in her new role will also lead Atomico’s investments in the area of healthcare and Biology 2.0, the term the VC uses to describe companies applying engineering and computer science principles and tools to biological problems. (You can read her thoughts on Biology 2.0 in a blog post.)

Originally a practicing surgeon, Haivas joined Atomico after working at specialist healthcare-focused growth investor GHO Capital Partners, and before that, at Bain & Co in Europe and the U.S. She also has some operational experience at Medtronic, a large medical engineering company. Prior to this, she trained as a doctor and was a surgical fellow at Harvard Medical School before completing a Master’s in International Health Policy at the London School of Economics.

Meanwhile, Haivas is the latest of a slew of Atomico promotions in the last few years. In September 2017, Tom Wehmeier, the firm’s head of Research, made partner. Next up, in November 2018, Sophia Bendz, the former Spotify global director of Marketing, was promoted to partner. And in March 2019, three new (non investment) partners were added to the list: Bryce Keane (comms), Alison Smith (chief of staff) and Camilla Richards (investor relations).

There have been departures, too. Most recently, long-time partner Mattias Ljungman left to raise his own seed fund. Before that, Carolina Brochado jumped ship to join SoftBank’s Vision Fund in London, and Teddie Wardi left for America to join Insight.

Atomico VCs say that ‘everybody cares’ in Europe about where the startup dollars are coming from

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