E Ink participated in the $42.5m first tranche of the gene and protein-focused 3D printing technology developer’s latest round having worked with it on a digital microfluidic tool called eDrop.

UK-based bioprinting technology developer Nuclera reached a $42.5m first close for its series B round yesterday that included electronic paper display producer E Ink, as additive manufacturing gains more attention in the pharmaceutical industry. State-owned financial services firm British Business Bank’s Future Fund also took part in the round, as did M&G Investments, Amadeus Capital Partners, RT Partners, Future Planet Capital and G K Goh Holdings. Founded in 2013 by three PhD students at University of Cambridge, Nuclera is working on a 3D desktop bioprinter called eProtein that will help researchers print genes and proteins within 24 hours, far less time than the conventional protein synthesis process. The product is based on eDrop, a digital microfluidic platform Nuclera developed together with E Ink through a strategic alliance and acquisition. Its customers come from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agribiotechnology and synthetic biology sectors. The funding will be used to conduct additional bioprinting research and development and further improve eProtein in a bid to commercially launch the product. Michael Chen, co-founder and CEO of Nuclera, said: “There is a fundamental productivity problem in biotech today. A biotech scientist needs to know how to make proteins to design drugs. That is like expecting a computer scientist to know how to build a computer to design software. “Our eProtein desktop bioprinter makes it easy for scientists to access the proteins they need in a single day rather than the weeks, months, or even years it currently takes. The new financing and partners we are announcing today is a strong vote of confidence in our mission to increase the accessibility of the drug discovery and general bioinnovation process.” The 3D printing medical equipment market is expected to triple in size to nearly $6.6bn by 2028, according to growth equity firm Insight Partners. Last month, cellular rejuvenation technology developer Altos Labs launched with $3bn from undisclosed investors. Synthetic DNA printing group DNA Script closed a $200m series C round the same month, after a $165m first close three months earlier featuring genomics technology producer Illumina, laboratory equipment maker Agilent, pharmaceutical firm Merck Group and conglomerate Danaher. Other bioprinter developers including Inventia Life Science and Healshape have also raised funding in recent months, though they do not have corporate backing. Nuclera had prevously secured approximately $820,000 in seed funding, subsequently joining a 10-week accelerator scheme dubbed Bio-Start at a similarly undisclosed date. Image courtesy of Nuclera Nucleics Ltd.

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Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.