10X Genomics locks down $55M for long-read sequencing tech

10X Genomics' product--Courtesy of 10X Genomics

10x Genomics has made its name distinguishing itself from the competition, rather than trying to play hardball. That approach seems to be paying off. The company recently brought in $55 million in a Series C round to support development of its long-read sequencing technology.

Fidelity Management & Research led the round, and new investors such as Softbank and JS Capital Management and old investors including Venrock, Foresite Capital and Paladin Capital also chipped in. 10x plans to use the financing to drive marketing and sales for its genome sequencing products and create new tools.

Pleasanton, CA-based 10x has forged a different path than other key players in the field. Instead of trying to compete head-to-head with sequencing giants such as Illumina ($ILMN), 10x bills its technology as complementary to existing products. The company's sequencing tech allow labs to add long-reads to their existing infrastructure, which in turn can offer more information about a person's genetic variants.

"While there have been a variety of companies that have sought to augment or displace Illumina, no one has been very successful," Venrock's Bryan Roberts told FierceMedicalDevices. "I would argue that there's huge opportunity there and that there hasn't been anyone who's gotten a lot of traction."

Venrock's Bryan Roberts

10x sees a window and it's moving fast. The company last year snagged $55.5 million in Series B funding for its genome tech at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference, bringing its total VC funding to $80 million and catapulting it into the limelight.

10x then announced that it would roll out an add-on for Illumina sequencers that help them map long reads of DNA. The deals started rolling in, with the Broad Institute in July buying some of the company's GemCode Platform for longer reads of DNA. In February, 10x struck deals with Illumina, Agilent Technologies ($A) and Qiagen ($QGEN), underscoring the demand for its long-read technology.

"These guys have been fantastic at product development, and have brought industrialization and scalability to this effort. Every time I see them, the platform gets broader and there's new information that no one knows about," Roberts said. "I think that they will deeply penetrate the market for people doing DNA sequencing and wanting longer read information."

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