Oxford Nanopore raises $59M to scale up production of MinION sequencer

With the early access program for its MinION sequencer now in full swing, Oxford Nanopore has tapped new and existing investors for cash to fund the next stage of its evolution. And with the oversubscribed offering pulling in $59 million (£35 million), the British startup has the money to scale up production of its sequencer while developing new uses for the underlying technology.

The first priority is to establish the production, logistics and commercial infrastructure Oxford Nanopore needs if MinION--its pocket-sized genome sequencer--is to become a major product. After several delays MinION is now being used by participants in an early-access program, putting Oxford Nanopore in a position to prepare for a wider rollout and become the first company to commercialize a nanopore sequencer. The fundraising will enable this work.

Oxford Nanopore will use the rest of the cash to further develop its intellectual property. "We can now make devices tailored to specific high-value sequencing applications and, importantly, ultrahigh-throughput devices designed for large-scale whole genome sequencing," Oxford Nanopore CEO Gordon Sanghera said in a statement. Sanghera also noted the potential to apply the core technology to sensing applications other than nucleic acids. 

With Illumina ($ILMN) dominating the genome sequencing market and the National Institutes of Health awarding $8.2 million to U.S. nanopore projects earlier this month, Oxford Nanopore faces competition from the incumbent and upstarts. But with a head start in nanopore sequencing and a $59 million cash injection--which saw Neil Woodford's new fund back the company--Oxford Nanopore has laid the groundwork to hold off these threats.

- read the release