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MindMed vs ATAI: A Look at the Psychedelic Leaders

Let’s take a closer look at the companies and see how they stack up against one another.



The post MindMed vs ATAI: A Look at the Psychedelic Leaders appeared first on Microdose.


For month’s we’d been waiting for it, for the psychedelic sleeping giant to enter the ring and finally give MindMed a run for its money.

Well, it happened less than two weeks ago when ATAI Life Sciences officially began trading on the NASDAQ.

So with the two presumptive industry leaders finally in the market at the same time, let’s take a closer look at the companies and see how they stack up against one another.

Product Pipeline

For the last year or so we’ve been crowning MindMed the psychedelic medicine king, primarily because they had the most dynamic and diverse product portfolio in the business. But now ATAI is here and MindMed finally has some competition for the title.

mindmed mdma companies


Despite any new competition, the company has a deep product pipeline that secures its spot as an industry leader.

  • -Project Lucy is studying the potential benefits of treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder with LSD, a huge market and widespread condition in desperate need of new treatment options.
  • -There’s also their proprietary Ibogaine derivative, 18-MC, a drug with a history of treating addiction and being developed by MindMed for opioid addiction. Another desperately needed solution with huge market potential.
  • -MindMed’s pipeline continues with LSD microdosing for ADHD, as well as numerous preclinical developments on DMT, MDMA, and others.
  • -Take note that MindMed has the development of LDS almost completely for themselves at the moment. No other company is near them in acid R&D. See our look at the business of LSD here.

atai life sciences


ATAI stealing some of MMEDs thunder (and investment dollars) might be a good thing, pushing them to keep their foot on the gas and keep on developing their pipeline. ATAI works with a different structure, owning or running different independent companies rather than putting everything under one banner.

  • -Perception Neuroscience is using an R-Ketamine compound to treat Major Depressive Syndrome. Ketamine is a crowded market but apparently, this compound can differentiate itself from the competition with rapid-acting profile and at-home use. Also, they’ve signed a deal with Otsuka Japan, one of the biggest pharma names in neuropsychiatry, already securing a 20 million upfront payment for use of this drug. A sign that they might be onto something.
  • -Recognify is developing a non-psychedelic drug for the treatment of schizophrenia. This is ATAI’s most advanced compound, starting Phase 2a soon. Although a relatively small market compared to depression and anxiety, there is no effective treatment for schizophrenia, so this could be a market ripe for a new alternative.
  • -ATAI has 8 other subsidiaries, developing compounds from DMT to MDMA to Ibogaine. See the company’s program list and our ATAI deep dive here.

Conclusion? Taking all of their subsidiaries into consideration, ATAI might have a slightly deeper development portfolio, although MindMed’s pipeline is really right up there.

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials

Intimately connected to the company’s product development, clinical trials are the single most important factor in predicting if biotech firms like these will be successful in the long run.

What’s interesting here is that despite having a development pipeline that rivals MindMed’s, ATAI is actually very early in the trial process. In fact, only one of their drugs is actually in Phase 2 trials (Recognify) with Perception on track to start Phase 2 this year. All of their other compounds are in Phase 1 or pre-clinical stages.

This means that MindMed, with several drugs in or about to start Phase 2, is ahead in the trial process and thus technically closer to actually getting a product to market.

It’s not a huge difference, but MindMed could be considered half a step ahead here.



This is where ATAI, in some people’s minds, pulls away from the pack. In pre-revenue, clinical-stage biotech, cash is king. And ATAI, for the moment, is the undisputed champion.

ATAI had already raised around $360 million in private funding before going public, now add another $225 million from their IPO a few weeks ago, and deduct their spending this year (just over $100 million according to their filing) – and ATAI is starting their public life with somewhere around $440 million cash in the bank.

That’s an unbelievable amount of money, more than double that of anyone else in the sector. Compass Pathways has cash reserves somewhere in the low $200 million with MindMed coming in third at around $160 million.

Taking into account the companies’ cash burn rates, both have enough cash to last for 3 to 4 years, depending on their increasing costs as trials pick up speed. Still, the sheer amount of cash puts ATAI in a power position to be aggressive in all sorts of manners, developmental or otherwise.

Company Structure

Company Structure

Normally not a main consideration in comparing two companies in the same space, but in this case, there is a substantial difference.

MindMed operates as most firms do, with their operations centralized under the same banner and management (although MindMed, like many biotechs, do have development partnerships with clinics and universities).

ATAI on the other hand operates as a sort of umbrella company. They buy or fund or start individual companies, allowing them to run independently (while remaining ultimately under ATAI’s financial control).

Some potentials pros and cons of this model:

  • -Allows for autonomy, for efficient decision making made by people on the ground and with the expertise in question. Potential gains here versus central management.
  • -Despite the autonomy, the companies share resources and information. Benefiting from help and finances of the bigger parent company.
  • -The individual company executives, many of them scientists or non-businesspeople, are able to focus on what they’re good at. Removing the burden of having to build new startups on their own.
  • -Potential extra motivation; they need their individual companies to perform, can’t slack.
  • -ATAI’s independent structure could provide liability protection if something goes wrong once a drug is commercial.
  • -Some negatives in not having the intangibles of a united banner and team like MindMed does.

This one is a toss-up and only time will tell which works best. Note: Keep in mind that MindMed just replaced their founder and CEO, while ATAI still has their big-name figurehead. Let’s see how the companies move on from here.


There is much to like about both companies. The two are similar in many ways, so it’s tough to deem one company a clear winner. Although in these cash-sensitive early stages, ATAI’s monster financial lead perhaps gives them a slight advantage.

One last point for investors to consider (even though this is definitely not investment advice!): ATAI’s market cap is at the moment about 300% bigger than MindMed’s. So for investors more concerned with the short or medium term, MindMed’s smaller market cap and potential room to grow might be something that puts them over the top.

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