£9m for Cambridge business making synthetic genes

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19/02/2018

A Cambridge company taking a new approach to synthetic genes has raised £9m to develop its technology.

Evonetix has raised the cash from an array of investors in a funding round led by California-based DCVC and European-based Draper Esprit, and including the Morningside group. Existing investors Providence Investment Company, Cambridge Consultants, Rising Tide Fund and Civilization Ventures have also contributed.

Tim Brears, Evonetix CEO, said: "We are delighted to be supported by such high-quality investors who have a deep understanding of the requirements of synthetic biology and are committed to this important, emerging area of science, and we look forward to working with them through the next stage of the company’s development."

A spin-out from Cambridge Consultants, Evonetix was founded in 2016 to develop technology that enables the parallel synthesis of DNA on silicon arrays, to facilitate the fast-emerging field of synthetic biology, where there is increasing demand for high-throughput and highly accurate DNA synthesis.

The company’s platform uses an addressable silicon array to direct the synthesis of DNA at many sites in parallel, followed by an error-detection process to allow the assembly of high-fidelity DNA at scale.

Serial tech investor and entrepreneur Hermann Hauser is an investor in the firm, and said: "Synthetic biology will unquestionably be the next frontier in the life sciences and provides the opportunity to fundamentally change the way in which our planet’s resources are managed, but this brings a requirement for very large amounts of DNA synthesised with high accuracy. Evonetix is developing a solution to this problem through its highly parallel and high-fidelity approach to synthesis."

Matt Ocko, managing partner of DCVC, said: "This is a truly novel approach to gene synthesis that can deliver massive parallelisation with an extremely low error-rate for high-complexity RNA and DNA constructs.’ He continued, ‘We are excited to back a team and technology that can materially reduce costs and improve innovation in our own portfolio companies and multiple global industries."

Vishal Gulati, venture partner at Draper Esprit, added: "Evonetix’s platform offers the prospect of synthesising DNA sequences accurately without limitation of size. This is the superpower that could transform the world of synthetic biology and allow us to engineer next-generation medicines and better versions of products we use every day."


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