Heads Up Biotechs: Illumina Ventures Closes $230M Fund

Published: Oct 16, 2017 By

Finance

A new venture capital fund with a focus on early-stage companies is making waves in the biotech world.

Illumina Ventures, a spinout from gene-sequencing firm Illumina, has raised $230 million for its first fund. Illumina Ventures was founded with $100 million in seed money from its parent company. The remaining $130 million for its first fund was raised from a mix of corporate, institutional, sovereign and individual investors, the company said.

Illumina ventures was founded by Nicholas Naclerio, Illumina’s former senior vice president of corporate strategy and business development. Although Illumina Ventures sprang out of Illumina, the VC company is managed independently from Illumina and focused exclusively on genomics and precision medicine. On its website, the venture firm said its focus includes applications of genomics in life science research, healthcare, agriculture and environmental science, public safety and personal wellness.

"Genomics has the potential to solve many of society's biggest challenges, from understanding the molecular basis of life, to more accurate medical diagnosis, life-saving drugs, and more sustainable sources of energy and food," Naclerio said in a statement. "The investor interest in this fund exceeded my expectations and will allow us to expand our team and support a greater number of entrepreneurs."

On its website, Illumina Ventures pointed to the relationship with its parent company and noted that not only did it dole out the seed funding, but the parent company also provides “access to the expertise and vision of the world’s leading genomics solution provider.”

Francis deSouza, president and chief executive officer of Illumina, Inc., said in the company elected to provide $100 million in seed funds to the venture firm because executives believe Naclerio and his team are positioned to identify and accelerate the “most promising entrepreneurs” in genomics.

"The rapid advances in genomics are creating tremendous entrepreneurial opportunities across industries from novel therapeutics, diagnostics and research tools to food security and synthetic biology," deSouza said in a statement.

As Illumina Ventures announced the financing of its first fund, the company also pointed to several investments it has already made. So far, Illumina Ventures has provided funding to seven companies including Biota Technology, DNA Script, Encoded Genomics, Genome Medical, Kallyope, SerImmune, and Twist Bioscience. Investments made prior to the launch of Illumina Ventures include companies like 23andMe, Ariosa, baebies, Boreal Genomics and CareDx.

Genome Medical co-founder Randy Scott said genomic insights will “revolutionize clinical medicine.”

"There is a big need to bridge the growing gap between available genome technology and current medical practice. This is something Illumina Ventures well understands,” Scott said in a statement.

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