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Synthetic DNA Firm Twist Bio Raises $26M, Wins $5.1M DARPA Contract

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Synthetic DNA manufacturing firm Twist Bioscience today announced it has raised $26 million in a Series B financing round and received a $5.1 million federal grant to further develop the company's technology platform.

The $26 million financing will go toward commercialization of Twist's semiconductor-based synthetic gene manufacturing process, it said. Nick and Joby Pritzker through their family's Tao Invest firm led the round. Yuri Milner, Arch Venture Partners, Paladin Capital Group and other strategic corporate and venture investors participated in the round. All existing investors participated in the round, Twist said.

The San Francisco-based company also announced a $5.1 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop Twist's platform for the large-scale, high-throughput construction of genetic designs. DARPA awarded the contract under the Living Foundries: 1000 Molecules Program, "which seeks to build a scalable, integrated, rapid design and prototyping infrastructure for the facile engineering of biology," the firm said.

During the past 10 months, Twist has created a working prototype of its 10,000-well silicon platform for synthetic DNA production, Twist CEO Emily Leproust said in a statement. It also has raised a total of $40.2 million during that time.

"Today, we have all the necessary components in place to automate and scale our synthetic gene manufacturing process and staff strategically, with the goal of bringing our first products and services to the market in 2015," Leproust said.

The firm said that it plans to hire 80 employees in informatics, hardware and software engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, sales and marketing, and operations during the next 18 months.