The cancer screening upstart Grail got started with more than a billion dollars in launch money from some of the biggest gamblers in the US venture community. And now some prominent Chinese investors want into the game, anteing up a $300 million monster round to fuel the development of new products.
Hong Kong-based Ally Bridge Group led the financing alongside Hillhouse Capital Group and 6 Dimensions Capital. They are joined by Blue Pool Capital, China Merchant Securities International, CRF Investment, HuangPu River Capital, ICBC International, Sequoia Capital China, and WuXi NextCODE. No specifics were given regarding the use of proceeds, except that they will “support ongoing development and validation of products for the early detection of cancer in Grail’s clinical research program.”
The money could be a crossover round for Grail, which has been rumored to be in the hunt for an IPO on the Hong Kong exchange. The city just revamped its rules to allow pre-revenue companies like Grail to list.
“Many of our new investors have a focus in Asia, which we believe is a natural fit as we plan to grow our capabilities and operations in the region, following the planned launch of our first product for early detection of nasopharyngeal cancer in Hong Kong this year,” said Ken Drazan, president, in a statement.
A well-known investment firm operating between China, the US and Europe, Ally Bridge Group played a crucial assist role for Ge Li when he took WuXi private in 2015. Founder and CEO Frank Yu has also invested in Tesaro and Sorrento Therapeutics.
“We are very impressed with the scientific, clinical, and software engineering achievements the team at GRAIL has made in just over two years. Our significant investment in GRAIL aligns well with Ally Bridge’s strong focus on investing in some of the world’s most innovative life science technologies and enhancing value-creation across geographies,” said Yu in a release.
The funds bring Grail’s total haul to $1.5 billion — with the $300 million being part of $1 billion Grail is reportedly seeking before the Hong Kong IPO.
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