Illumina Ventures sets sights on European genomics startups with new $325M fund

Illumina Ventures, the independently managed venture capital firm bankrolled by the DNA sequencing giant, has closed its second investment fund, amassing $325 million in new commitments.

​The proceeds will be used to support genomics-focused, early-stage startups looking to build new clinical diagnostics and life science research tools as well as targeted therapeutic platforms and digital health initiatives.

Bringing the firm’s total capital to $560 million, the latest fund was anchored by Illumina; however, the majority of the dollars came from other investors including the nationally backed Ireland Strategic Investment Fund among others.

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"Genomics and precision medicine are revolutionizing the healthcare industry," Illumina Ventures' Founding Partner Nick Naclerio said in a statement. The former Illumina senior VP added that the larger fund will allow them to pursue more ambitious projects in the U.S. and Europe.

Since its launch in 2016 and initial $230 million fundraising, the firm has invested in 25 companies including the diagnostic developers Cernostics, Delfi Diagnostics, LetsGetChecked and Pattern Bioscience as well as genetic screening companies Genome Medical, Cradle Genomics and Alamar Biosciences. 

Two of its portfolio companies have since gone public: the cell-therapy-focused SQZ Biotech through a NYSE IPO last October and the synthetic DNA weaver Twist Bioscience, which recently inked a $710 million antibody discovery collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim. 

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Most recently, Illumina Ventures backed Walking Fish Therapeutics, a B-cell therapy developer that debuted earlier this month with $50 million in funding. It also backed NanoCellect Biomedical, makers of laser-powered benchtop cell-sorting devices, which raised $35 million over the course of two venture rounds this year.