Culture Biosciences Adds $15M for New Software, Bioreactor Expansion

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Culture Biosciences, a contract development and manufacturing organization, has added new funding to increase bioreactor capacity and create additional monitoring software.

The San Francisco startup announced the completion of a $15 million Series A financing round this week, bringing aboard fresh cash from new venture capital backers in addition to earlier investors.

Culture Biosciences said it will use the cash to triple bioreactor capacity and to create additional cloud-based biomanufacturing R&D software monitoring and development tools.

“This funding will support our goal of making biomanufacturing R&D a digital experience by enabling scientists to manage their entire R&D workflow in our software application,” CEO Will Patrick said.

“Making biomanufacturing R&D a digital experience” translates roughly as using computers to make bioprocess R&D more efficient. Culture Biosciences has a software platform and bioreactor set-up that allows biopharmaceutical developers to run, analyze and monitor experiments in real time without needing to be present.

The advantage, according to the firm, is that real-time monitoring lets bioprocess scientists carry out multiple studies in parallel, meaning they “can spend more time designing and analyzing experiments.”

“This scale-up process is bottlenecked by legacy approaches to fermentation, which require companies to either build in-house fermentation facilities or contract an outside lab to run their experiments,” the company wrote earlier this year. “Both approaches are limited in speed, flexibility and convenience, contributing to lengthy lab-to-market timelines that can stretch well beyond five years and cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D expenses.”

The company was founded by former engineers from X, Google’s “semi-secret” technology R&D arm. (Read more about Biosciences’ origins here).

The firm claims it has a 30-strong client base that includes both biotechs and large biopharma companies. It also works with the wider biomanufacturing sector.

Culture Biosciences also says it has recently expanded it capabilities to include mammalian cell culture development R&D.

In February, the company landed a $5.5 million seed funding round, and used the proceeds to quintuple bioreactor capacity at its facility in South San Francisco.

Culture Biosciences’ Series A round was led by Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, a Chicago-based venture capital firm. New investor The Production Board, a tech incubator and investment holding company in San Francisco, participated, as did earlier investors Verily Life Sciences, Section 32, YCombinator, and E14 Fund. As part of the deal Cultivian Sandbox managing director Dan Phillips and Production Board founder and CEO David Friedberg join Culture’s board of directors.

Sarah de Crescenzo contributed to this report.