CRISPR platform company Synthego announced that it raised $100 million in a Series D financing led by new investor Wellington Management, co-led by RA Capital Management and 8VC. Previous investors include: WI Harper Group, Founders Fund, Menlo Ventures, and Intel Capital. This new round brings Synthego’s total private funding to more than $250 million. Synthego will use the proceeds from the financing to expand the capabilities of its proprietary platforms.
For several years now, Synthego has been helping academic researchers and companies run tests and experiments that require gene editing. However, when WI Harper Group initially invested into Synthego’s Series A round in 2013, the company was operating in stealth. WI Harper Group’s conviction to back the company came two-fold: an opportunity to disrupt the archaic processes of synthetic biology and disease treatment; and a strong conviction in Paul and Michael Dawbroski’s (both SpaceX alumni) unique capabilities – the powerful combination of engineering and biology that enable scaling. WI Harper Group saw a revolution in gene editing and disease treatment.
Fast-forward to the current – Synthego’s platform makes world-class genome engineering tools accessible to all scientists by accelerating research and adoption of CRISPR to help make it a standard lab technique. CEO Paul Dabrowski said he wants to use their more recent and future funding to push the company to a far more ambitious goal, one that the former SpaceX engineer couches in terms reminiscent of an a16z blog post: “virtualizing biology.”
Mainly, though, what Dabrowski means is that they’ll not only provide people with the tools to run CRISPR and cell therapy experiments, but in many cases fully run the experiments for them.
“This idea of virtualizing biology: In the tech world, you have cloud server infrastructure. Amazon Web Services is, like, a thing. You would never try to build out your own infrastructure of servers and maintain all of that. You just swipe your credit card and go, and you focus on your content, your website, your media,” he told Endpoints News. “And I foresee this becoming a reality probably within the next 5-10 years, where scientists get to focus on their domain, their biology, their cell models, their disease areas and they don’t have to worry about the underlying difficulties of doing the experimental work.”
Partially that would mean just doing the work of a specialized CRO. But Dabrowski says Synthego has been focusing on standardization and scale, building out predictability software and an automated factory that would make them far more efficient than companies or researchers could be on their own.
“The expectation is that the turnaround times keep getting shorter, the success rates get higher, and ultimately this whole thing becomes — you swipe your credit card and go,” he said.
Since the 2012 launch, Synthego has expanded from largely providing CRISPR guide RNA to a suite of options, most recently adding capabilities to edit iPSC stem cells line on a large scale. During the pandemic, they’ve aided several efforts, most notably an analysis of how SARS-CoV-2 proteins interact with human ones that was later published in Nature. And they provided guide RNAs for Sherlock’s CRISPR-based diagnostic. Dabrowski said more tools are in the works and will be added in the near future.
| About Synthego:
Synthego is a genome engineering company that enables the acceleration of life science research and development in the pursuit of improved human health. The company leverages machine learning, automation, and gene editing to build platforms for science at scale. With its foundations in engineering disciplines, the company’s full-stack platform vertically integrates proprietary hardware, software, bioinformatics, chemistries, and molecular biology to advance both basic research and therapeutic development programs. By providing both commercial and academic researchers and therapeutic developers with unprecedented access to cutting-edge genome engineering products and services, Synthego is at the forefront of innovation in engineered biology.
| About WI Harper Group:
WI Harper is a pioneer and leading cross-border venture capital firm investing in early and expansion stage companies globally. With offices in San Francisco, Beijing, and Taipei, the firm actively oversees more than $1 billion in assets under management. Since inception nearly three decades ago, WI Harper has invested in over 400 startups and has successfully experienced more than 100 IPO and M&A exits.
We look for innovative companies and visionary founders in healthcare, technology and sustainability fields where there are high synergies and meaningful value added cross selling opportunities. While our healthcare team is presently honing on bioinformatics and digital biology, our technology team is focused blockchain, big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, AR/VR, IoT, robotics, drones, autonomous driving, as well as digital media and green energy projects.