Photo: Feodora Chiosea, Getty Images
A startup that provides biomanufacturing research and development services has raised $15 million in a Series A venture capital funding round.
South San Francisco, California-based Culture Biosciences announced the round Wednesday, led by Cultivian Sandbox Ventures. The Production Board also participated, along with existing investors Verily Life Sciences, Section 32, Y Combinator and E14 Fund.
The company plans to use the money to triple its current bioreactor capacity while also developing new software designed to help digitize biomanufacturing R&D. “This funding will support our goal of making biomanufacturing R&D a digital experience by enabling scientists to manage their entire R&D workflow in our software application,” CEO Will Patrick said in a statement.
“These companies have all historically struggled with slow and inflexible legacy approaches to scaling up their lab discoveries to commercial production,” Patrick said in a statement. “Our goal is to enable them to develop and scale their bioprocesses in less time, helping to bring their transformational bioproducts to market sooner.”
The company’s last financing was a $5.5 million seed round that it raised when it launched last year. It has since acquired more than 30 customers that range from startups to large firms, scaled up its cloud bioreactor infrastructure, launched life data monitoring and visualization and expanded from fermentation into mammalian cell culture.
In a phone interview, Patrick touted the company’s ability to rapidly expand capacity. Previously, he said, the company built 80 bioreactors, a process that took about 10 weeks. With the latest round of financing, it will “definitely” get to more than 300 in total. He added that the company does not currently anticipate hitting any capacity constraints.
“We can build bioreactors in response to market demand versus having to plan out a year in advance,” he said in the interview, pointing to Culture’s emphasis on lean, just-in-time manufacturing.
Part of its ability to expand rapidly is its practice of building bioreactors itself rather than buying them. “We’ve been designing the reactors to be lower-cost – part of that’s because we design them for our own use,” he said. “It means it can be pretty capital-light.”
The company also employs several practices to ensure the security and integrity of data and samples from its customers. This includes segregation of all the data that are collected, encryption and various standard operating procedures in the lab.