African genomics company, 54gene, raises $15m

Posted on: 14 April, 2020 at 11:49 AM

54gene, the African genomics research, services, and development company has closed a series A round of $15 million, led by Adjuvant Capital, a life sciences fund backed by the International Finance Corporation, Novartis, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The round included participation from Raba Capital, V8 Capital, Ingressive Capital, and follow on investment from Y Combinator, Better Ventures, Fifty Years, KdT Ventures, Aera VC and Pioneer Fund. In July 2019, 54gene secured a seed round of $4.5 million which brings the company’s total VC investment to $19.5 million.

54gene was launched in January 2019, to address the significant gap the genomics market currently poses for Africa, and build and use African genetic data sets to make landmark discoveries to support therapeutic development. As of 2018, less than 3% of the data used in Genome-wide Association Studies (GWAS) were of African ancestry and currently, less than 1% of global drug discovery occurs on the African continent. Located in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, and in the US, 54gene aims to improve the development, availability and efficacy of medical products that will prove beneficial to Africans and the wider global population.

54gene currently works with over 300 researchers, clinicians and geneticists across the continent, to improve the global collective knowledge of genomic determinants of health and to facilitate translational research. The company has also built an African biobank, a state-of-the-art biorepository which stores biological samples to provide access to aggregated, de-identified data and bio-specimen mainly for secondary use by researchers, to support both academic and development research.

Jenny Yip, managing partner of Adjuvant Capital said, “There is enormous potential in expanding the reach of global drug and vaccine discovery by including more diverse populations in research efforts. We were impressed by 54gene’s commitment to building a world-class network of African clinicians and geneticists and are excited to work with them as they scale and seek to drive meaningful improvements in global public health.”

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