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Oxford Nanopore Raises $21.1M from Illumina and Other Investors

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb Daily News) - Oxford Nanopore Technologies has raised $21.1 million from Illumina and private investors, and has partnered with Illumina to develop and commercialize its third-generation DNA sequencing technology, the companies said today.

Under the strategic agreement, Illumina has made an $18 million equity investment in the Oxford, UK-based startup to accelerate the development of the firm's label-free single-molecule nanopore sequencing technology, called Base technology. Illumina plans to make an additional equity investment following the achievement of a specific technical milestone.

In addition, Oxford Nanopore has received £2.1 million ($3.1 million) from existing investors, according to IP Group, a university IP commercialization company that holds a 29-percent stake in Oxford Nanopore.

Once commercialized, Illumina will also exclusively market, sell, and distribute Base technology products for DNA sequencing into the research and diagnostic markets worldwide. Both companies will share profits from sales.

"Oxford Nanopore's technology holds tremendous promise to achieve the sub-$1,000 human genome," said Illumina President and CEO Jay Flatley in a statement. "Making electrical measurements of unmodified DNA removes the need for complex samples prep and the high-performance optics found in today's sequencing systems."

Oxford Nanopore was founded in 2005 as Oxford Nanolabs and has been developing protein nanopore technology developed by Hagan Bayley, a professor at the University of Oxford.

Last summer, the company licensed additional nanopore-related intellectual property from Harvard University and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Last March, the firm raised £10 million ($14.9 million) from existing non-VC institutional and private investors to support its R&D.

The Base technology will sequence DNA by coupling a processive exonuclease that clips off individual nucleotides to an adapted protein nanopore that detects them.