Nigerian biotech startup, 54gene, raises $15 million in Series A funding

by | Apr 14, 2020

Nigerian biotech startup, 54gene, has secured a $15 million Series A funding led by New York-based venture capital firm, Adjuvant Capital with follow-up investment from Y Combinator, Fifty Years, KdT Ventures, Better Ventures, Aera VC and Pioneer Fund.

This comes nine months after it raised $4.5 million in seed funding. The Series A funding takes the total venture capital 54gene has raised to $19.5 million.

Founder and CEO, Abasi Ene-Obong says the funding will allow 54gene to expand its biobank capabilities to 200,000 samples with a target to meet 500,000 in the nearest future. The funding will also allow the startup to boost its lab capabilities.

“We are trying to address the gap that currently exists in precision medicine for people of the African continent. With this funding we are about to expand that lab so we can process actual genetic data for tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people,” Ene-Obong said.

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54gene founder and CEO, Abasi Ene-Obong

54gene was founded in January 2019. As a biotech and genomics startup, it offers genetic testing and molecular diagnostics services to Africans which helps unlock information about their health.

Also, the one-year-old utilises human genetic data derived from diverse African populations to improve medical products in the continent.

By partnering with more than a dozen hospitals to analyse the genomes of their patients, the startup has over 300 researchers, clinicians and geneticists across the continent and a research lab in Nigeria.

Speaking of revenue, 54gene’s plan to make money is dependent on co-developing drugs and medicine in partnership with pharmaceutical companies.

“When the drug is in the market, approved medicine [54gene] and the pharma company will share revenues. When you are a service provider to big pharma you can’t really make such a request. But when you are a development partner you co-own a significant stake of what’s being developed and have more of a say.”

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However, the startup isn’t disclosing its partners or the primary health issues it will be tackling just yet as its focus is on boosting lab and biobank capabilities.

Endlessly amused by technology. @ulonnaya


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