Vancouver-based AbCellera has closed a $144 million CAD ($105 million USD) Series B funding round to help further advance its antibody drug discovery platform.
The round was led by OrbiMed, a United States-based healthcare-focused fund, and current investor DCVC Bio, with an investor syndicate that included Viking Global Investors, Peter Thiel of Founders Fund, University of Minnesota, and Presight Capital. The round also saw participation from Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly), an American pharmaceutical company that recently entered into a multi-year strategic research partnership and license agreement with AbCellera.
AbCellera recently received a commitment of $175.6 million from the federal government under the Strategic Innovation Fund.
Founded in 2012, AbCellera is a biotech company with a drug discovery platform that searches and analyzes immune systems to find antibodies that can be used to prevent and treat disease. The startup plans to use its newfound capital to “expand its capacity” and invest in technologies that “complement and extend” its antibody discovery platform.
Earlier this week, AbCellera announced the Lilly partnership, which will see the startup work to discover antibodies for nine therapeutic applications, of which Lilly will have the right to develop and commercialize any therapeutic products resulting from the research. According to The Globe and Mail, AbCellera has partnered with several of the world’s largest drug companies to use its technology to help identify dozens of drug candidates for diseases.
According to the company, it has successfully completed more than 55 programs, delivering high-quality antibody drug candidates for a wide variety of drug targets. AbCellera also noted that it has generated “lead therapeutic antibody candidates” for various diseases including cancer, immuno-oncology, neurodegeneration, pain, fibrosis, and metabolic disorders.
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The newly raised Series B and the partnership come just a few short weeks after AbCellera received a commitment of up to $175.6 million from the federal government under Innovation, Science, and Economic Development’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). The funding was part of the government’s $192 million commitment to new COVID-19 projects that were prioritized under SIF.
AbCellera’s federal government funding was intended to help the company expand efforts to discover antibodies for use in drugs to treat COVID-19, as well as build therapy technology for future pandemic threats. In addition to the support from the Government of Canada, AbCellera received an undisclosed amount of funding from the City of Vancouver.
The $144 million Series B will also support the growth of AbCellera’s facilities and team. The biotech startup has plans to open a new 48,000-square-foot research and development facility in 2021. AbCellera is also building a manufacturing facility for the production of pharmaceutical drug products for clinical testing.