A lot of money is being poured into genomics lately, including the genomic information company WuXi NextCODE (WXNC), which just announced it has closed on $240 million in Series B financing, led by Sequoia.
We tend to hear very little about this company in the tech industry but Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma is one of its many backers and WXNC is counted among the largest genetic database outfits in the world, offering B2B products for research and B2C products for the Chinese consumer market.
The company was founded in 2013, as a spinoff of deCODE genetics in Iceland. In 2015 WXNC was acquired by WuXi AppTec, the Chinese and US open access R&D platform. WuXi AppTec then merged the company with its Cambridge, Massachusetts-based sequencing laboratory to create WuXi NextCODE. WXNC is now a standalone subsidiary with offices in Cambridge, Shanghai and Reykjavik.
WXNC’s cloud-based database is used by researchers around the world to visualize and analyze whole exomes (these are the expressed or “turned on” genes in a genome; a genome being all the genes in an organism).
On the consumer side, the company is a bit of a 23andMe, Color Genomics and Helix all rolled into one, with several consumer genetic test products available for purchase in China.
WXNC is on track to have more than 2 million genomes in its information database by 2020, more than any other database in the world, according to the company. Now WXNC would like to take that fresh $240 million and put it towards building out the infrastructure needed to make its database the “gold standard” of genome sequence data.
“Only a platform with millions of genomes can provide the network effect and knowledge base that enable everyone to derive greater benefit, continually attracting more users, more data, and delivering ever more powerful health insights to serve people and patients everywhere,” said WuXi NextCODE chairman and WuXi AppTec founder Dr. Ge Li.
The company announced it had raised $75 of the $240 million back in June from Temasek and the Jack Ma-backed Yunfeng Capital. Other participants in the round include Amgen Ventures, 3W Partners, and “other existing long-term partners.”
WXNC had previously raised $30 million, bringing the total raised to $270 million.