Biotech billionaire raises $100M for synthetic biology venture Intrexon

Demonstrating once again just how hot the synthetic biology field has become, Blacksburg, VA-based Intrexon has raised a $100 million E round for its work on a range of programs stretching from therapeutics to ag bio. The biotech company--which took in funds for its fifth round from unnamed new backers as well as previous investors Kirk and his Third Security venture group--has now raised $259 million.

It's been a busy year for Intrexon, which is run by Randal Kirk, a biotech billionaire who sold New River and Clinical Data. The company announced an exclusive channel partnership with Ziopharm near the beginning of 2011. Then it acquired Agarigen and Neugenesis and launched two new commercial divisions: Intrexon's ag bio division and the animal science division.

"We welcome our new investors, who share our vision of the historic potential of synthetic biology generally and of Intrexon's technology specifically," said Kirk. "The success of the raise, including the valuation that Intrexon was able to attain, speaks strongly in favor of our business model and the opportunity that synthetic biology represents. Given the vast scope of applications that are amenable to biological synthesis, Intrexon's unparalleled ability to produce gene programs for the control of cellular function, and our scalability, I believe that Intrexon today represents one of the most exciting endeavors in all of life sciences."

Kirk has made a fortune building and selling biotech companies. And he recently explained his strategy to Forbes' Matthew Herper. "Aside from the more obvious advantages that naturally may flow from an intensely interested, dedicated and (I would like to think) capable shareholder, the length of the holding periods to which I refer may actually have been required in biotech because the product development cycle times have been so long," Kirk said.

- here's the Intrexon release