Twist Bioscience, the rising star of DNA synthesis, has announced the completion of its most recent financing round with the addition of $27 million to the raise. In combination with the $33 million in funding that Twist announced in March, this latest addition brings the company to a total of $60 million in financing this year.
While Twist’s most recent fundraising is impressive, it pales in comparison to the $191 million that the company has raised since its founding. In 2016, Twist brought in $61 million in Series D funding. In 2015 they closed a $37-million Series C.
Twist’s DNA synthesis platform has attracted the likes of Microsoft, Ginkgo Bioworks, and others who have inked supply agreements of historic scale with Twist. With multiple customers expanding their partnerships with Twist over the past year, this funding announcement is in line with the many steps—or, rather, leaps—that Twist has recently made as the company commercializes its platform and expands its business.
Twist CEO and cofounder Emily Leproust commented on the announcement of the company’s 2017 funding: “We have built a truly disruptive, scalable DNA synthesis technology platform that is now operating on a commercial scale, providing customers in many different synthetic biology-driven industries with products to accelerate their research and product development efforts,” she said. “Importantly, with top tier investors and strategic partners standing behind us, we look forward to rapidly advancing the growth of our core gene synthesis market, and expanding our focus into two key vertical markets, drug discovery and DNA digital data storage.”
Biomatics Capital was the noteworthy returning investor to Twist’s newest fundraising round. The round also included a slew of first-time Twist investors, including Reinet Fund S.C.A., F.I.S., NFT Investment Limited, KANGMEI Group, Bay City Capital GF Xinde Life Science Investment Fund, 3W Partners Capital and Ditch Plains Capital Management LP.
Twist continues to focus on drug discovery & data storage
Twist has announced its intention to use its latest funding to continue accelerating the growth of its gene synthesis platform. As with its previous raise of $33 million, the company plans to focus this funding on the market segments of drug discovery and DNA data storage.
The latter of these two focal markets happens to be that of Twist’s highest profile customer: Microsoft Corporation. In April of this year, Microsoft renewed its supply agreement with Twist for an additional ten million strands of DNA, signaling that the software giant’s venture into DNA digital data storage and its partnership with Twist was going well. The original deal was made a year prior in April of 2016 for the same quantity of DNA.
Microsoft is hardly the only group exploring the possibilities of storing data in the form of DNA. It is widely recognized that, when it comes to certain types of data, DNA may represent a superior storage medium as compared to magnetic tape and hard drives. Despite its long-term stability and high data density, progress in the realm of DNA data storage has been hampered by the high cost of synthesizing custom DNA molecules. The efficiency of Twist’s platform, however, is slowly nudging the fantastical notion of DNA data storage toward a viable reality.
Another company that has been eager to tap into Twist’s platform is Ginkgo Bioworks, itself a disrupter in the market for custom microorganisms. In need of large quantities of DNA to construct these organisms, Ginkgo established a supply agreement with Twist in 2015 for 100 million bases of DNA and, shortly after, tripled the size of that agreement to 300 million base pairs. In January of this year, Twist announced that it was now supplying genes of unprecedented length—3200 base pairs—to Ginkgo under the terms of their agreement.
Thus, whether it be through data storage or microbial engineering, Twist seems to be fulfilling on its promise to revolutionize synthetic biology by finding a better way to supply its raw material. We watch with anticipation for Twist’s next move.1