Acorn Biolabs announces $11-million CAD Series A to boost access to regenerative medicine via cell preservation

Biotech startup aims to unlock hair regrowth, skin rejuvenation, disease treatment by preserving cells.

Toronto-based biotechnology startup Acorn Biolabs, which helps customers freeze their stem cells in preparation for cell-based regenerative medicine treatments, has announced approximately $11 million CAD ($8 million USD) in Series A funding across multiple closings.

The all-equity, all-primary round was led by new backer Merz Aesthetics with support from Telus Global Ventures, MDE Investments, The Leslie Group, Lee Li Holdings, and several undisclosed physicians in the aesthetics, orthopedic, and longevity fields.

Acorn claims to offer “the world’s first non-invasive, [hair] follicle-based cell cryopreservation service.”

Founded in 2017, Acorn aims to provide clients with access to personalized regenerative medicine through what it claims is “the world’s first non-invasive, [hair] follicle-based cell cryopreservation service” and patented cell-based treatments from patients’ hair follicle cells. By preserving cells, the startup hopes to unlock the possibility of future hair regrowth, skin rejuvenation, injury recovery, and disease treatment through regenerative medicine.

Acorn plans to use this capital to expand its commercial footprint and develop cosmetic offerings. Acorn co-founder and CEO Drew Taylor told BetaKit he believes that since its launch in North America over a year ago, Acorn has proven its model in hair follicle-based stem cell banking. He expects the startup’s business to accelerate following investments in direct-to-consumer advertising and in-clinic promotion.

“We are entering a pivotal time in our history where we’ll launch the first, personalized cosmetic skin and hair product made specially leveraging the person’s own hair follicles,” said Taylor. “We believe the market is primed for this type of personalized approach based on the positive reception we’ve received to date.”

Taylor declined to share when the startup’s Series A round closed. He also declined to share the company’s valuation but claimed it was higher than Acorn’s seed financing. With this latest capital, Acorn has now raised more than $13.6 million CAD in total funding to date.

The announcement of Acorn’s Series A round comes more than five years after Acorn raised $3.3 million in seed funding from Real Ventures, Globalive Technology, Pool Global Partners, and Epic Capital Management to fuel its launch. In 2021, Acorn closed another $250,000 from MCI OneHealth, now Healwell AI.

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Last year, Acorn launched its stem cell banking service in Canada and the United States.

Acorn customers can visit participating clinics—often dermatologists or plastic surgeons—and have a clinician collect a sample of their hair follicles, which Acorn then preserves at their labs indefinitely until they are required again. Clients pay an annual subscription fee for this service. In 2023, Taylor said Acorn saw cumulative patient growth of more than 10 percent monthly.

Taylor claimed that Acorn and its 21-person team possess “a true first-movers advantage in the category of stem cell cryopreservation leveraging hair follicles as the source.” The next step in the company’s evolution involves creating topical skin and hair care products, which Acorn plans to make available through those same clinics.

Taylor said Acorn will also expand its commercial operation partner sites in North America and hire a sales team to support clinics in dermatology and plastic surgery, as it gears up to launch its first skin and hair care product in the next year.

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He acknowledged that “the skin and hair care markets are both quite large and competitive,” but claimed that no other company currently sells a personalized skin or hair care product like the one Acorn plans to launch. Taylor noted that other offerings in the topical cosmetic space leverage donated tissues from other humans or derived from plants.

In a statement, Merz Aesthetics chief corporate development officer Jon Parrish noted that regenerative aesthetics aims to “stimulate the body’s own systems to repair and restore the structure and integrity of aging skin.”

“We are looking to invest in opportunities that lie at the intersection of regenerative aesthetics and personalized medicine and our investment in Acorn directly aligns with this strategy,” he added.

Feature image courtesy Acorn Biolabs.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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