Benchling logs largest funding round yet with $200M to expand cloud-based R&D platform

Though it was never much of a benchwarmer to begin with, Benchling has certainly hit the big leagues with its latest fundraising, the largest by far in the startup’s almost decade-long history.

Sequoia Capital Global Equities led the $200 million series E. Other participants in the funding round included Altimeter Capital, Byers Capital and serial entrepreneur and Color Genomics founder Elad Gil, as well as several previous investors.

The round brings Benchling to unicorn status with a $4 billion valuation, according to Forbes. It also easily outstrips Benchling’s past funding rounds, the largest of which was a $50 million Series D investment led by Alkeon Capital that closed in May 2020.

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The company will use the new funds to further expand the global reach and technical capabilities of its cloud-based R&D platform for its biotech and pharmaceutical users.

Those users include heavyweights like Gilead Sciences, Sanofi, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sana Biotechnology. With Benchling’s platform, they can analyze complex datasets, streamline research workflows, design DNA using CRISPR gene-editing technology and more.

“This past year has proven the impact biotechnology can have on the world. It’s been thrilling to see our customers at the center of developing everything from life-saving therapeutics for COVID-19 to more sustainable products for our planet,” CEO and co-founder Sajith Wickramasekara said in a release.

“This funding will enable us to provide more products, solutions and services that scientists around the world ultimately need to solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges,” Wickramasekara added.

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The influx of funding also caps off a busy year for Benchling. In 2020, the company doubled its annual recurring revenue; brought in more than 150 new users, including Gilead and Sanofi; and opened its third office—and the first outside the U.S.—in Zurich, Switzerland.

It also launched several new products. Most recently, in January, Benchling began rolling out the Validated Cloud, which provides tools bridging the gap between research and development, making it easier for life sciences companies to prepare their data findings and research proposals for regulatory approval. The Validated Cloud could therefore significantly speed up the process of bringing urgently needed products, such as COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, to market.

Next up, according to Forbes, Benchling is aiming to continue its track record of doubling revenues each year while also pursuing plans to go public. To that effect, the company recently hired new financial and information security chiefs plus a general counsel, though it has yet to lay out a specific timeline for filing an IPO.