Seattle’s Adaptive Biotech Will Set Up Shop in New York

Published: Jul 02, 2015

Seattle’s Adaptive Biotech Will Hire 20, Set Up Shop in New York City
July 1, 2015
By Alex Keown and Riley McDermid, Breaking News Staff

SEATTLE – Following the largest venture capital raising in Washington State, Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies is opening a New York City office and will aim to hire 20 new employees across its multiple sites this year, the company said Wednesday.

Chad Robins, Adaptive’s chief executive officer, told the Puget Sound Business Journal that the New York office, located in Manhattan, would have about 10 employees, all of whom are currently based on the east coast. No lease has been signed yet, but Robins said he expects the office to open within the next six months. The office will be used for the Adaptive’s corporate development and business development operations.

A New York office will put the company within arm’s reach of the ever-expanding biotech hub in Boston, giving it transcontinental access to research being conducted by numerous universities, businesses and research institutions.

Adaptive Biotechnologies was a 2009 spinout of the Seattle-based nonprofit Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center .

The new office comes on the heels of the company raising $195 million in a Series F financing in May, which the company said will be used to support research in studying T-cell and B-cell receptors in the immune system. In addition to the Series F financing, the company nabbed about $200 million more in funding, including $94 million as part of its buy-up of San Francisco-based Sequenta, Inc. and $105 million in Series E funding last year.

Adaptive Biotechnologies, which develops immunosequencing platforms, currently employs about 90 people in its Seattle office and 65 people in its San Francisco office. Adaptive Biotechnologies is currently looking to hire more than 20 positions to support various areas of operations, including administration, research and development, general scientists, sales and quality control. The positions listed on its website include openings for both its Seattle office and its San Francisco office.

Adaptive Biotechnologies is not the only Seattle-area company looking to fill openings. At least three other biotech firms have been on hiring sprees over the spring and early summer. Juno Therapeutics is currently hiring for about 40 new positions, while Seattle Genetics, Inc. has about 100 open positions. NanoString Technologies Inc. also announced it had some open positions.

In late May it became clear that the battle of the Seattle-based biotechs appears to be more of a love fest than a feud, after perennial favorite Juno Therapeutics (JUNO) said that it thinks its other main local competition, Adaptive Biotechnologies is “vital.”

Juno CEO Hans Bishop, himself a multimillionaire after Juno’s ragingly successful IPO last winter, told a conference hosted by Xconomy that the cancer related research Adaptive is doing is crucial.

"It's absolutely vital," Bishop said. "The technology the folks at Adaptive have is an incredibly important window into understanding responses and non-responses (to drugs)."

That’s an unusual show of support from what can traditionally be a pretty sharp-elbowed marketplace, but Bishop was not stinting in his praise—perhaps another sign that with biotech’s bull market run continuing, companies are feeling confident there’s plenty of venture capital funding the go around.

But with or without the support of its regional peers, Adaptive’s traction in the market has been impressive.

Adaptive announced May 6 that it had raked in $195 million in Series F financing round, the largest venture capital raise in Washington State so far this year, and a boost the startup says it will use to fund its work studying T-cell and B-cell receptors in the immune system.

The round was led by Matrix Capital Management and included new investors Senator Investment Group, Tiger Management, Rock Springs Capital and an additional large healthcare investor, as well as existing investors Viking Global, Casdin Capital and Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

Adaptive is also backed by industry-leading strategic investors Illumina , Celgene Corporation , BD Biosciences and LabCorp .

The late-stage funding, unusual for a company of its size, which in a different market may have taken a run for the public markets or exited to a larger competitor, comes after a spate of infusions. Most recently, Adaptive banked $94 million as part of its buy-up of San Francisco-based Sequenta, Inc., and it scored $105 million in a Series E round last April.

All that money pouring in, from such a broad range of investors, is a testament to the market’s increasingly bullish interest in anything biotech, particularly in the CAR-T or immuno-oncology spheres.

“The disruptive potential of our ground-breaking immunosequencing technology is evidenced by the tremendous commitment of our world-class investors,” said Adaptive Biotechnologies CEO Chad Robins in a statement. “We are honored to work with a consortium of investors who share in our vision that understanding the adaptive immune system will change the course of medicine across many therapeutic areas including cancer and other immune-mediated diseases.”

The fundraising caught the eye of longstanding tech journalist and GeekWire founder John Cook, who said in a column the very size of the round was astonishing.

“To put the $195 million figure in perspective, consider this,” wrote Cook. “Last quarter, there was $381 million invested throughout the entire Pacific Northwest, so that mean’s Adaptive’s latest funding round is more than half of all the money raised last quarter.”

Adaptive said it will also be expanding its immunosequencing platform to develop target identification technology for adoptive T-cell therapy. The company’s VC backers appeared to agree with that plan, saying they have high hopes for Adaptive as it moves into an increasingly competitive field.

"Adaptive has ingeniously combined the vast power of next generation sequencing, distributed computing, and data analytics with proprietary chemistries to create the industry leading immunosequencing platform that enables a portfolio of innovative applications addressing the research, clinical and therapeutic development markets," said David Goel, managing general partner of Matrix Capital Management.

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