Jan 22, 2016

SYNTHETIC DNA COMPANY TWIST BIOSCIENCE RAISES $61 MILLION

by Grand Goad

San Francisco’s Twist Bioscience, a manufacturer of synthetic DNA, announced on Tuesday that it has raised a $61 million Series D round. Additionally, the company has secured $20 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley bank. Twist has raised $133 million since its founding in 2013.

The round’s participants included Arch Overage Fund, Merieux Development, and Cormorant Asset Management and Research Company, as well as San Diego-based Illumina, the largest player in the DNA sequencing technology business.

Twist’s main advantage is its technology. Instead of using the industry standard 96-well plastic plate, they’ve developed a silicon plate a fraction of the normal size. In fact, it’s the size of a postage stamp, and it’s covered in 96 tiny wells, each of which contains another 96 microscopic wells, resulting in a massive 9000-plus wells per plate.

The silicon plates are also less error prone due to their improved temperature control as compared to plastic. These advantages enable Twist, according to CEO Emily Leproust, PhD, to deliver to their customers “high quality, high throughput DNA faster and cheaper.”

The company currently has a business relationship with Gingko Bioworks of Boston, which, in November, entered a deal to purchase a minimum of 100 million base pairs of synthetic DNA. Gingko creates organisms for customers in the industrial chemicals industry that produce cultured ingredients for use in food and cosmetics.

Twist will use the funds to expand into other industries, such as pharmaceuticals.

It’s interesting to note that some of Twist Bioscience’s initial funding, a $5 million grant, came from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the federal agency that helped develop the Internet in the early 1970s.

For more information, visit the Twist Bioscience website.

Read the company’s press release with more details on the Series D funding round.