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Audacious bit.bio nets $103m for first close of Series B round





In an audacious set of moves combining a $103m finance raise and an expansion of its board with world-famous additions, bit.bio has propelled itself to the forefront of the synthetic biology sector – and is now set up to exponentially expand the possibilities of what the new science can achieve.

bit.bio’s official opening of its new offices in The Dorothy Hodgkin Building on Babraham Research Campus. From left at the ribbon cutting are Campus chief executive Derek Jones, co-founder and CEO Dr Mark Kotter, Anthony Browne MP, and co-founder and COO Florian Schuster with some of the team. Picture: Keith Heppell
bit.bio’s official opening of its new offices in The Dorothy Hodgkin Building on Babraham Research Campus. From left at the ribbon cutting are Campus chief executive Derek Jones, co-founder and CEO Dr Mark Kotter, Anthony Browne MP, and co-founder and COO Florian Schuster with some of the team. Picture: Keith Heppell

bit.bio was founded in 2016 by Dr Mark Kotter, CEO, from his labs at the University of Cambridge after his discovery of opti-ox technology, which combines synthetic and stem cell biology. In 2018 he was joined by co-founder Florian Schuster, COO.

The remarkable timeline to a whole new level of success accelerated in September when the company moved to purpose-built new labs on Babraham Research Campus.

Last week, as reported in the Cambridge Independent, it was announced that the bit.bio board will be chaired by serial entrepreneur Dr Hermann Hauser.

As if that were not enough – and at the same time – it was announced that Sir Greg Winter, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner, had also joined the board, along with Alan S Roemer, another global pharmaceutical savant who has to date raised $1.75bn in private and public capital and consummated five IPOs.

Then – appropriately on Fireworks Night – came the the news that bit.bio had completed the first close of its Series B financing to the tune of $103m.

New and existing institutional and strategic investors in the Series B round, thus far, include Arch Ventures, Charles River Laboratories, Foresite Capital, National Resilience Inc, Metaplanet, Puhua Capital and Tencent.

Touring bit.bio’s offices in The Dorothy Hodgkin Building on Babraham Research Campus for the official opening in September are, from front left, Anthony Browne MP, bit.bio founder and CEO Mark Kotter, and scientist Dr Marcos Herrera Vaquero. Picture: Keith Heppell
Touring bit.bio’s offices in The Dorothy Hodgkin Building on Babraham Research Campus for the official opening in September are, from front left, Anthony Browne MP, bit.bio founder and CEO Mark Kotter, and scientist Dr Marcos Herrera Vaquero. Picture: Keith Heppell

The funding will accelerate the clinical development of the company’s opti-ox proprietary cell coding technology – a breakthrough gene engineering approach that enables unlimited batches of any human cell to be manufactured consistently at scale through direct reprogramming of stem cells.

It will also support the continued growth of the company’s ioCells product portfolio – where opti-ox is used to create human cell products that are unique because they offer consistency at scale and the cells are highly defined.

Speaking to the Cambridge Independent, Dr Kotter said: “Essentially the financing allows us to accelerate our clinical development, which means building a pipeline of cell therapies and getting them into the clinic.

“This has really been the biggest goal for me from day one: because I see patients every week, I want to make cell therapies possible on a scale and price point so every patient everywhere can access them.

“I think they are going to be the next generation of transformational medicines and opti-ox means we can manufacture them consistently at scale, which is currently one of the big barriers. It’s going to be hard of course, as it’s a new technology, but that’s what the funding will help us do.

bit.bio screen showing cell activity. Picture: Keith Heppell
bit.bio screen showing cell activity. Picture: Keith Heppell

“In terms of the team, we continue to grow: we introduced two new VPs of translation recently, and it’s these types of hires that will help us build that pipeline out. They are both based on the West Coast in the US and that’s our second home.

“And of course, we will honour our commitment to provide the best cells for the research and drug development community.”

bit.bio has already launched two products for research and drug discovery – glutamatergic neurons and skeletal myocytes – with disease models and other cell types to follow.

“I’m thrilled that bit.bio is supported by world class investors and strategic partners,” added Dr Kotter. “The capital will enable us to accelerate our clinical and commercial scale-up and to deliver cell therapies for every patient, everywhere.”



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