Q1 2021 Portfolio Company Updates: $9B increase in NIH funding, Group COVID Testing, Major Partnership Announcements, Fundraising News
|While the vaccine roll-out has helped us start our social normalization process, one thing that has remained is the increased attention paid to scientific innovation and acceleration of progress in OS Fund verticals. This increased awareness and progress will help drive the continued adoption of the revolutionary science and technology of our portfolio companies. We are seeing this both within our portfolio and at a much larger scale at the federal level.|
The Biden administration has prioritized large increases in federal funding of scientific research in its upcoming budget. Some highlights include:
-$9 billion increase in NIH funding, including over $6 billion for a newly created Advanced Research Projects Agency – Health that would focus on research into a diverse array of diseases
-A nearly $2 billion increase in NSF funding, with the potential for massive incremental funding coming in the debated infrastructure bill
Federal support of scientific programs helps the entire OS Fund ecosystem, from early stage non-dilutive SBIR funding (which numerous OS Fund companies have utilized in the past), to massive late stage programs like the $1 billion federal loan approved for Ginkgo Bioworks we highlighted last quarter. An increase in federal funding will accelerate the continued evolution of scientific commercialization to positively impact our everyday lives.
With the increased focus on scientific potential from both the private and public sectors, we are incredibly optimistic on what the future holds. We are proud to work with the founders who help author our future by turning dramatic scientific discoveries into commercial successes.
|Portfolio Company Spotlights|
CEO Jason Kelly presented at the 39th Annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference on the company’s response to COVID-19. The organization also announced Joyn Bio–a joint venture with life sciences leader Bayer focused on the engineering of microbes that could help replace widely used chemicals and fertilizers in conventional farming–and was awarded a DARPA contract for up to $15 million to create a novel mosquito repellent using engineered microbes that will last for at least two weeks per application. The organization’s COVID-19 testing program, Concentric by Ginkgo, has been successfully rolled out in thousands of classrooms nationwide to help students and staff return to–and stay in–school, safely.
After receiving first-ever FDA approval for an at-home COVID test in late 2020, Lucira completed a $115 million IPO this quarter. The high-sensitivity molecular diagnostic test that can be used in a healthcare setting or at home–and produces results in 30 minutes or less with much higher accuracy than “rapid” antigen tests–were successfully launched for sale in February, helping alleviate a testing shortage faced by patients and outpatient physicians.
In early Q1, Eat Just announced that Dicos–a major Chinese fast food chain serving 600 million customers annually–would be replacing all conventional egg products in their 2,600 stores with JUST Egg’s meatless folded egg product. The global organization also launched a new sous vide format of their plant-based Just Egg, in partnership with Cuisine Solutions. In late March, the company announced that it had raised a $200 million investment round led by the Qatar Investment Authority, and met the incredible milestone of having sold the plant-based equivalent of 100 million eggs.
Lygos has begun work to generate the largest multi-omics dataset for guiding the development of organic acids; together with the US Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office’s Agile BioFoundry (ABF), the pair are using the dataset and the ABF’s artificial neural networks to demonstrate a high-throughput engineering cycle utilizing multi-omics analysis and machine learning with an industry-leading cycle time. The company also announced the launch of LygosCBx, a commercial-scale cannabinoid production platform, which is scheduled to launch this month and run multiple production campaigns before the end of 2021.
|Other Portfolio Company News|
|–Truvian Sciences announced the close of an oversubscribed, $105M Series C financing round. The funds will be used to further develop Truvian’s automated benchtop blood testing system and scale its team to support broad commercialization.|
–HelixNano is working to develop a second-generation COVID-19 vaccine booster that aims to “zoom and amplify” function for the current mRNA vaccines.
–Miroculus announced the completion of a Series B financing extension, bringing the total capital raised in the round to $45M.
–Verge Genomics and the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) announced a research collaboration focused on validation of new drug targets for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.
–TwoXAR announced preclinical safety and efficacy data for Chronic Kidney Disease (CDK) at the annual Chronic Kidney Disease Drug Development Summit.
–NuMat Technologies was named a top Chemicals & Materials startup; experts at Lux Research discussed how NuMat Technologies is building “The Chemicals & Materials Company of 2040”.
–Synthego announced The EclipseTM Platform by Synthego. This ground-breaking cell engineering platform leverages their best-in-class sgRNA, unmatched level of process standardization, and AI-driven machine learning to deliver the new gold standard in cell-based models.
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