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22 Synthetic Biology Companies Have Raised Half a Billion Dollars in 2017

Updated August 2nd

The synthetic biology industry is off to another great start in 2017. In just the first half of the year, the industry has raised an impressive amount of more than $500 million in venture capital, public funding, and grants. This puts the industry on track to beat all years prior to 2016 in total funding raised.

A Look at the Top Four Fundraisers

Of the 22 companies represented in this figure, Editas Medicine took the lead by bringing in an estimated $90 million dollars from its underwritten offering of common stock in March. Editas has topped the list of blockbuster fundraisers in the industry for several years, bringing in $120 million in Series B funding in 2015 and $94.4 million in its 2016 IPO. The MIT spinoff platform uses CRISPR genome engineering to develop cures and treatments for a number of human diseases, and their outlook has only looked brighter since the CRISPR patent interference hearing was decided in favor of MIT’s Broad Institute earlier this year.

Editas is not alone in the top tier of fundraisers whose platforms are based on CRISPR technology. Silicon Valley-based startup Synthego, maker of the first CRISPR kits for academia and industry, closed a Series B fundraising round in January for the third highest year-to-date amount of $41 million. This figure is no surprise to those who know how well Synthego has delivered on its vision to make CRISPR efficient, affordable, and accessible for researchers around the world.  In May the startup rolled out its new CRISPR guide design software and continues to expand its presence and grow its team with the 2017 raise.

Coming in at second place is synthetic DNA maker Twist Bioscience, who brought in $60 million between two separate raises so far this year. This amount is just shy of the $61 million that Twist raised during all of 2016, and brought the company’s total funding since inception to a whopping $191 million.

Calyxt, Cellectis’ agriculture company, announced the pricing of its $56 million IPO. The company is utilizing the gene editing technology TALEN® to create valuable traits through precise modification of plant genomes. They are developing specialty food ingredients, such as healthier oils and high fiber wheat for consumers as well as delivering agriculturally advantageous traits, such as herbicide tolerance to farmers.

Synthetic Biology Funding


A Look at the Rest of the Pack

While genome engineering solutions appear to be one the hottest platforms of early 2017, other areas were also represented among the eighteen fundraisers. Two companies focused on modifying the human microbiome, BiomX and AOBiome, raised $24 and $30 million respectively.

Alternative aquaculture and livestock feed companies also showed up among the fundraisers.  Calysta, maker of sustainable fermented protein FeedKind®, raised $40 million in Series D funding and KnipBio, maker of fish feed incorporating carotenoid pigments, raised $2 million in its Series B. The UK’s 3f Bio also recently raised £461k to develop a sustainable protein production platform based on mycelium, this was the first investment that John Cumbers made through the new DCVC SynBioBeta Fund that was announced in April.

Overall, the most well represented sector among the group was health and biomedicine, including but not limited to Editas, AO Biome, and BiomX. Joining these companies was eGenesis, a startup focusing on enabling xenotransplantation through genome editing, who raised an astonishing $38 million Series A round. Teewinot Life Sciences, developer of cannabinoid-based therapeutics, also brought in a $12.3 million Series B.

Learn More About the Synthetic Biology Industry

SynBioBeta classifies any company that is making biology easier to engineer a synthetic biology company.  Many of these companies will be speaking at SynBioBeta SF 2017, October 3rd – 5th. If you are interested in learning more about the field, we encourage you to join us there. For more details on companies working on synthetic biologybecome a member with SynBioBeta and get access to our company database.

Has your synthetic biology company raised an investment recently? We want to know about it!  Please contact us through our web form.

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Note from the editor: this article has been updated on August 2nd and removed the Renewable Energy Group Financing on $24 Million to Ralston Biorefinery.


Christine Stevenson

Christine Stevenson is a freelance science writer and adjunct professor of biology at the Maricopa Community Colleges in the Phoenix metropolitan area. She holds an M.S. in Biology from Arizona State University and has a background in both wet lab research and venture capital consulting. She lives in Tempe, AZ with her dogs, cats, chickens, and goat.

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