Although calls to turn biology into an engineering discipline have frequently been met with disdain and frustration by industry insiders, new players continue to emerge, undeterred, in search of ways to solve the notoriously inefficient process of drug development where things that work in labs often fail to work in humans.
Synthace, a London-based firm developing software for what it terms “computer aided biology,” wants to be at the forefront of that effort. And it now has $25.6 million in Series B cash to prove it can.
Horizons Ventures led the round — joined by Luminous Ventures and SOSV among others — which will fund development of Synthace’s digital-to-physical workflow platform as well as ramp up sales and marketing efforts.
Much of the funds will be directed toward recruitment with an aim to double the team to 90 employees in a matter of months, adding both software engineers at its White City facilities and commercial staffers in a new Silicon Valley office to be opened in 2019.
Synthace currently counts Merck, GSK and Fujifilm Diosynth among its cell and gene therapy customers, CEO Tim Fell tells me.
Taking a page out of the semiconductor and automotive industries, Synthace’s platform, dubbed Antha, provides “interoperability” across different pieces of lab equipment such that a protocol optimized to run on one make of liquid handling robot can run on another without the user needing to know how.
“An analogy is printing a PDF,” he writes over email. “It hardly occurs to us that we all use different makes of printers. They work not because they run the same software but because of a driver that translates the PDF to be compatible with that printer. With this funding Synthace will invest in both expanding the breadth of interoperable lab equipment by writing more of the necessary ‘drivers’ and developing libraries of highly optimized protocols.”
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