Nigeria’s 54gene secures $15m Series A funding round to scale operations

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Nigeria-based African genomics research, services, and development startup 54gene has closed a Series A round of US$15 million to allow it to scale operations.

Launched in 2019, 54gene is a research, services and development company founded that utilises human genetic data from diverse African populations to improve the development, availability and efficacy of medical products that will prove beneficial to Africans and the wider global population.

The startup raised a US$4.5 million seed round last year, and has now secured US$15 million in Series A capital in a round led by Adjuvant Capital, a life sciences fund backed by the International Finance Corporation, Novartis, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The round included participation from Raba Capital, V8 Capital, and Ingressive Capital, as well as follow-on investment from Y Combinator, Better Ventures, Fifty Years, KdT Ventures, Aera VC and Pioneer Fund

54gene will use the investment to scale operations, accelerating discovery capabilities by bolstering operations in genetics, bioinformatics, preclinical, clinical and commercial programmes.

As part of its next stage of growth, the company will further explore partnerships and opportunities for co-development of drug targets and therapeutics, and expects to partner with pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic companies for clinical programmes in Africa.

“This new partnership marks a significant evolution in the growth of our company. In the coming months we will be focusing on building a genomic resource that we hope will add significantly to global health, while also translating to the health benefits of patients in Africa,” said 54gene founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Abasi Ene-Obong. 

“We will also be expanding our collaborations in Africa with both public and private stakeholders and investing in setting up a state-of-the-art research lab with high-throughput genetic processing and BSL 3 capabilities in Nigeria, and ensuring that we build some of our innovative pipelines on the African continent.”

Jenny Yip, managing partner of Adjuvant Capital, said there was “enormous potential” in expanding the reach of global drug and vaccine discovery by including more diverse populations in research efforts. 

“We were impressed by 54gene’s commitment to building a world-class network of African clinicians and geneticists and are excited to work with them as they scale and seek to drive meaningful improvements in global public health,” she said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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