Raise 3D

In the field of 3D bioprinting, the major, overarching goal is to be able to fabricate functional 3D printed human organs. Many bioprinting companies, such as Organovo and Aether, are making progress, and OxSyBio, an Oxford University biotech spinout company, joined the ranks back in 2014 when it raised £1 million to develop its proprietary 3D droplet printing technology. The startup has developed a 3D printing platform that is capable of printing biological materials with a range of therapeutic purposes, with a goal of using living cells or non-living ‘artificial’ cells, or hybrid materials, to create therapeutic tissues for patients.

This could transform regenerative medicine, as the technology would allow for the 3D printing of new tissues that could repair or replace damaged body parts. That’s why OxSyBio, which was spun out from the university’s innovation arm, Oxford University Innovation, by Professor Hagan Bayley, the founder of university spinout Oxford Nanopore Technologies, is still working to raise funding for its important research.

The startup announced this week that it has successfully raised £10 million in Series A financing. Woodford Investment Management led the round, and backers like IP Group plc and Parkwalk Advisors Ltd. contributed as well.

“This deal provides the long-term capital required to deliver our ambition of building affordable tissues for patients,” said Professor Bayley. “The company has already made important strides in translating this technology into a real world product, and we look forward to continuing our close research collaboration.”

Fund manager Neil Woodford contributed £5 million to OxSyBio, only a day after news broke that his firm had sold out of a leading investment platform just before its stock market listing. Woodford’s investment occurred while questions were being asked regarding its ability to take part in investment rounds, as the fund has received £1 billion of redemptions in the past year.

Neil Woodford’s fund management firm has been hit by £1 billion in redemptions in the past year. [Image: Tom Stockill via The Times]

However, Woodford, which also backed Oxford Nanopore Technologies, says that it will not have any issues participating in fundraising, despite its outflows.

A fund spokesperson said, “When we sell, or don’t participate in a funding round, it is not a function of an inability to follow on, but typically a function of our preference to focus our capital on businesses earlier in their life cycle or which have the potential for more attractive returns.”

In fact, the fund has said that it’s “pleased” to invest in the biotech startup.

“Advances in synthetic biology, and the ability to print tissue-like material, now position this technology for commercial application,” Woodford said.

OxSyBio is hoping to help solve the donor organ shortage with its 3D bioprinter, which uses tiny droplets of biological material to build up complex tissues that can be used in regenerative medicine.

“Instead of having to wait for a donor, we could manufacture in a much more affordable way,” explained OxSyBio CEO Dr. Hadrian Green.

A portion of this latest investment round is subject to OxSyBio actually achieving some of its set milestones.

“The 3D printing of tissues from living cells in high-throughput formats is already proving interesting to academic and pharmaceutical research teams, with massive potential impact right across the board,” said Moray Wright, CEO at Parkwalk Advisors. “The concept of artificial cells has had a long history, but with OxSyBio’s platform technology, the concept is becoming a reality.”

OxSyBio hopes it can help solve the donor organ shortage. [Image: Andrew Milligan, PA via The Times]

The round builds on its previous £1 million seed funding, which brings the startup’s total amount of fundraising to £11 million. This investment will allow OxSyBio to continue developing its 3D bioprinting technology and artificial cell platform, so it can help create, according to Oxford University Innovation, “disruptive products that harness the power of biology for impact in medicine.”

“Biological functions are difficult to create using electrical or mechanical devices, therefore, harnessing the power of biological materials in non-living devices will be highly disruptive,” said Dr. Green. “This investment is testament to the power of the original ideas and the hard work of our Chief Technology Officer Sam Olof, the OxSyBio team and the founding lab to turn research into reality. OxSyBio wishes to pay tribute to Oxford University and the unique culture of patient capital, pioneered by Neil Woodford and IP Group, which is instrumental to delivering long-term transformational technologies.”

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