Same Twist, New Funding: Gene Synthesizer Raises $61M Series D

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Twist Bioscience is reeling in millions more in funding as the company, which has developed a process of manufacturing synthetic DNA, plans to expand in the U.S. and internationally.

Based in San Francisco, Twist announced a $61 million Series D round of funding alongside a piece of debt financing for as much as $20 million. The company, founded in 2013, said in a statement that the funding will help it advance research and development in markets that it has existing relationships, such as industrial chemicals and data storage. The funding may also help create additional partnerships in markets such as pharmaceuticals, CEO Emily Leproust said in the statement.

Twist has indeed started building partnerships. In November, it announced a purchase agreement with Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks, in which Ginkgo will buy a minimum of 100 million base pairs of synthetic DNA from Twist over the course of a year. Ginkgo designs and builds organisms for customers that can be turned into customized cultured ingredients, such as flavors, fragrances, cosmetics, and nutritional ingredients, and is using the Twist DNA for that.

Other companies have developed the ability to synthesize gene sequences, but as Xconomy’s Alex Lash described in May 2014, Twist believes the process it has developed—doing so on silicon instead of traditional plastic plates—sets it apart. Now, Twist has raised $133 million (as well as the $20 million of debt financing) from people who believe in its potential.

The Series D round of funding came from crossover investors ARCH Overage Fund, Merieux Developpement, Cormorant Asset Management LLC, Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Foresite Capital Management LLC. Other strategic corporate and venture investors also participated, including ARCH Venture Partners, WuXi Healthcare Ventures, Illumina, Nick and Joby Pritzker (who led a $26 million Series B their family’s firm Tao Invest), Paladin Capital Group, Yuri Milner, and Boris Nikolic, among others.

The $20 million debt financing comes in two tranches through Silicon Valley Bank. The first is a $15 million loan; Twist can draw only a portion of the loan immediately, though it did not reveal the amount. The company says the rest is available if it meets “certain business milestones.” The company also has a $5 million account receivable revolving line of credit with the bank.