Business / Funding / Startups

Pittsburgh Money Moves: Astrobotic won a NASA grant, Duo Oncology raised $3M and more

Plus: Carmell Therapeutics made a $65 million acquisition, Gov. Shapiro announced a $400 million workforce training program, and NeuBase has halted production.

Astrobotic's Peregrine Lunar Lander. (Photo by Atiya Irvin-Mitchell)
Money Moves is a column where we chart the funding raises of tech companies across the region. Have a tip? Email us at

Astrobotic won $34.6M for its moon demo

Astrobotic’s plans to go to the moon may have been delayed, but that hasn’t stopped the North Side space tech company from receiving votes of confidence in the form of dollars and cents: In July, the company announced it’d won a $34.6 million NASA Tipping Point partnership to show off its power transmission capabilities on the moon’s surface. During the company’s forthcoming demonstration, which is being called LunaGrid-Lite, an Astrobotic 6U CubeRover “will transmit power from a lunar lander to a tethered rover,” per its announcement.

Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said in the announcement that the LunaGrid-Lite will “pave the way for power generation and distribution services on the Moon.”

“With renewable, uninterrupted commercial power service, both crewed and robotic operations can be made sustainable for long-term operations,” Thornton said.

Duo Oncology raised $3 million

Duo Oncology, a Shadyside-based company that’s developing cancer nanomedicines, has raised a $3 million seed round led by Seedfolio. The raise also included participation from local firms LifeX and Innovation Works, plus others.

The funding will be used to advance its clinical studies.

“Investments in this seed round will allow Duo Oncology to push ahead with the development of DUO-207 and we are excited to demonstrate how a novel self-assembling nanomedicine can improve therapeutic outcomes for patients with stroma-rich tumors,” CEO Sam Rothstein said in the announcement.

Carmell Therapeutics acquired a Arizona biotech firm for $65 million

Carmell Therapeutics HQ. (Courtesy photo)

After leaving 2022 with a series of FDA wins and ending the first half of 2023 by closing its SPAC deal, South Side-based Carmell Therapeutics has announced it’ll be acquiring an Arizona biotech company for $65 million.

Both Carmell and the acquired Axolotl Biologix develop regenerative medicine products. The former is focused on tissue, hair, skin and bones, and the latter is focused on “active soft tissue repair, aesthetics and orthopedic indications,” per an announcement.

“I look forward to working with Josh [Sandberg, CEO of Axolotl] and the Axolotl team to accelerate our goal of building Carmell into an industry-leading regenerative medicine company through a combination of in-house product development, bolt-on acquisitions and business development aimed at aesthetics/soft tissue and orthopedic indications,” Carmell Therapeutics Executive Chairman Rajiv Shukla said in the announcement.

Shapiro announced a $400M workforce training program

In July, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced a $400 million workforce training initiative designed to address workforce shortages felt throughout the state. The governor created this Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program through an executive order.

As part of the initiative, a grant program will offer organizations working on federally funded infrastructure projects up to $40,000 for each new worker hired. The funding comes from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

“It’s very clear: More trained workers equals quicker progress, cleaner water, better infrastructure, more economic opportunity for Pennsylvanians,” Shapiro said during an announcement event.

NeuBase halted production to explore ‘strategic alternatives’

NeuBase, a Strip District-based company developing precision genetic medicines, announced a pause in production to explore “strategic alternatives.” According to the company’s announcement, NeuBase’s future could include an acquisition, merger, business combination or some other transaction. The news reportedly follows a 60% staff reduction and the October 2022 departure of its president, as well as a recent $5 million raise.

“There can be no assurance that this evaluation process will result in NeuBase pursuing a transaction or that any transaction if pursued, will be completed on attractive terms, if at all,” the announcement said. “The Board has not set a timetable for completion of this evaluation process and does not intend to disclose further updates unless and until it is determined that further disclosure is appropriate or necessary.”

More Money Moves spotted these raises in SEC filings, though the orgs’ leaders declined to comment:

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Aspinity / Carmell Therapeutics / Astrobotic
Series: Money Moves

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