Our Investment to Enable the Synthesis of DNA on a Chip – Evonetix Raises $30 Million for Desktop Gene Synthesis Technology

By Brent MacDonald – Principal @ Rising Tide VC




Evonetix gene synthesis platform

At Evonetix they are reimagining biology by developing a radically different approach to gene synthesis – a highly parallel desktop platform to synthesize DNA at unprecedented accuracy, scale and speed. The company’s platform will place DNA synthesis, the biological process by which a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule is created, in the hands of every researcher and change how DNA is accessed, made and used – a new paradigm for gene synthesis.

The challenge in the space has been the creation of “high-fidelity DNA” at scale, which can be rapidly produced and utilized to test and create new synthetic biology systems. Evonetix is building this very architecture and represents a significant step forward in allowing pharmaceutical companies, universities, research laboratories, and other major industry players to test new compounds swiftly and effectively. Applications of this technology spread across vertical markets including healthcare, pharma, biotech, food and agriculture, and data storage. Use cases include drug discovery (antibody screening), therapy development (CAR-T: cells are modified to recognize cancer cells in order to more effectively target and destroy them), synthetic circuits (programmable microbes for detection and delivery of antibiotics in infectious disease), and bioproduction (engineering organisms to produce high value molecule i.e. plants, yeast). The Global Gene Synthesis market is forecast to reach $13.8 Billion in 2022. (BCC Research)

“Synthetic biology has the potential to solve some of the world’s most intractable problems, but we require innovation in gene synthesis to accelerate progress” – Tim Brears, CEO Evonetix

Evonetix’s silicon chip is made by micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) processing and controls the synthesis of DNA at many thousands of independently controlled reaction sites or "pixels" on the chip surface in a highly parallel fashion. This is compatible with both chemical and enzymatic DNA synthesis. Following synthesis, strands are assembled on-chip into double-stranded DNA in a process that identifies and removes errors, enabling accuracy, scale and speed that is several orders of magnitude better than conventional approaches. With the huge increase in DNA sequence information available over the past decade, there now exists opportunity to engineer metabolic pathways and organisms, improve industrial processes, create new processes, engineer genomes with new and improved traits and use DNA as a medium for data storage. See video for details.

Why We Are Excited:

Gene synthesis has multiple advantages including generating mutated, recombinant, and completely novel DNA sequences without use of template. A wide variety of types of sequences can be produced which aid in research applications. For Evonetix, its desktop DNA synthesis platform will generate high fidelity DNA at scale for the rapid prototyping of biological designs. Whole metabolic pathways will be created on a chip using its technology - and there is the prospect that eventually the DNA synthesized will be used to replace conventional methods of storing data, from servers to hard drives to memory sticks. Some of the major secular tailwinds driving the business forward include the reduced cost of genetic sequencing (down to <$1,000 from $95 million) and increased public awareness / experience of the benefits of genetic sequencing. The continuing reduced cost of genetic sequencing enables huge amount of electronic gene-sequence information to be stored. Using DNA as a digital data storage medium is another revolutionary application that could be enabled by the Evonetix approach. Finally, the Company’s engineering team has decades of experience developing high integrity automated systems. This high caliber team brings together needed expertise and includes biologists, physicists, chemists and engineers.

Evonetix’s funding round was led by new investor Foresite Capital. Existing investors, Draper Esprit, DCVC (Data Collective), the Morningside Group, Providence Investment Company, Cambridge Consultants Ltd, Civilization Ventures and Rising Tide also all participated in the round. To date, Evonetix has raised a total of $46 million.

Read the full press release here.

Rising Tide Fund Managers, LLC and its affiliates (“Rising Tide” or “We”) is a United States venture capital firm investing primarily in the information technology and healthcare / life sciences markets. Over the last 35 years, we have partnered with family funds, high-impact investors, and strategic partners to help launch and expand startups in a variety of industries across three continents. We are dedicated to cooperating with our entrepreneurs at all stages: from financing to leveraging our international networks to facilitating exits by design. For more information, visit www.rtf.vc.

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